Clients & Projects Future Networks


The drivers for future network evolution include not only a greater amount of traffic per user but also a greater density of users, with a greater diversity of connected devices. Familiar user devices such as smartphones and tablets will be increasing joined by connected cars, home automation, personalised health, environmental monitoring, smart meters; and mesh networks of sensors in cities, amongst other growing applications.

Fifth generation, or 5G, networks will thus have to deliver a far broader proposition than a simple evolution of 4G cellular networks. In contrast, 5G will need to be truly revolutionary.

Future 5G networks will need to integrate across many heterogeneous elements, including coverage cells; small cells; the Internet of Things; backhaul and a configurable network architecture. This will cover wireless technologies such as cellular; satellite; Wi-Fi; Short Range Devices; Internet of Things; and fixed and microwave backhaul. It will also need to encompass higher level considerations such as spectrum sharing, Network Function Virtualisation and Software Defined Networking, in order to ensure the approach is flexible enough to meet the challenge. And all this must be achieved with lower power consumption, especially in the access network where wireless technologies are power-hungry and in the core where electronic switching energy requirements are not scalable.

New technology developments for short range communications are expected to be examined, such as ‘Li-Fi’ optical communications, which helpfully increases deployable densities by confining emissions to a single room. We expect other new technology examples will include advanced spectrum sharing by exploiting more diverse combinations of techniques; and integrated, cognitive approaches to orchestrating flexible, virtual network architectures.

All the above must be achieved within a context of ensuring security and personal privacy. A significant standards development effort will be required for all new technology approaches. Finally, of course, there must emerge a money-making model which is suitable for all the actors involved.