5G Is a Huge Opportunity for TEMs

By Caroline Chan, Wireless access segment manager, Network Platform Group, Intel

No matter where you fit in the wireless food chain, expect the transition to 5G to be exhilarating. The demand for new devices and mobile infrastructure will be incredible, making the coming years a very busy time for telecommunications equipment manufacturers (TEMs). First deployments in 2020 is a realistic objective, according to a panel of industry leaders hosted by Frost & Sullivan.1

5G Vision

Although final requirements haven’t been ironed out yet, major industry players already have high aspirations for 5G. This includes major performance improvements such as an order of magnitude reduction in latency (both air and end-to-end) and more than a ten times increase in peak data rate. There will also be provisions for critical service assurance for connected cars and very low-rate services for the billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that come online.

Along these lines, the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance recently released a 5G white paper proposing requirements around system performance, user experience, devices, business models, management and operation, and enhanced services.2

5G Technology at MWC 2015

To no one’s surprise, 5G was a key theme at this year’s Mobile World Congress. “Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia Networks demonstrated technology that forms the basis of their 5G road maps; and some leading operators, such as Deutsche Telekom, also spoke about how developments, including network functions virtualization (NFV) and software defined networks (SDN), are making 5G possible,” wrote Monica Alleven, editor of FierceWirelessTech.3

Sky-High Forecasts

Over time, 5G infrastructure is expected to serve around ten thousand times more devices than are currently connected to mobile networks, with IoT devices and cars accounting for a large part of the growth. This trend will ultimately generate a tremendous amount of business for TEMs per Intel’s 5G vision reflected in the following:


Radio access network (RAN) capacity expands by 1,000 times to increase mobility and coverage for subscribers, IoT devices, and cars. This includes more radio towers, smart cells, and remote radio heads (RHHs) supporting Cloud-RAN (C-RAN) deployments.

Mobile core adds 100 times more capacity to meet the growing traffic demand. This is primarily evolved packet core (EPC) equipment, which today is represented by various LTE network elements:

  • Serving Gateway (Serving GW)
  • PDN Gateway (PDN GW)
  • Mobility Management Entity (MME)
  • Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) Server
  • Home Subscriber Server (HSS)

Backhaul capacity is expected to increase ten-fold. It is the infrastructure, like routers, switches, fiber, and microwave, that connects a cell site to the mobile core.

Virtualized Infrastructure

The momentum behind virtualized equipment will grow stronger with 5G, as SDN and NFV advancements continue and spread to the RAN, customer-premises equipment (CPE), and other devices. Look for new services based on big data to influence the way networks are being constructed and monetized.

5G is looking like a wonderful opportunity for TEMs, perhaps even better than the first four generations of mobile networks. Read more about Intel’s 5G vision at http://iq.intel.com/will-5g-bring-new-dimension-wireless-world.

1 Source: Jessy Cavazos, Frost & Sullivan, “5 insights about 5G that may surprise you,” March 17, 2105, www.evaluationengineering.com/2015/03/17/5-insights-about-5g-that-may-surprise-you.

2 Source: Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance, “NGMM 5G White Paper,’ February 17, 2015, https://www.ngmn.org/fileadmin/ngmn/content/images/news/ngmnnews/NGMN5GWhitePaperV10.pdf.

3 Source: Monica Alleven, FierceWirelessTech, “MWC 2015: NGMN Alliance, Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia talk 5G and more,” March 9, 2015, www.fiercewireless.com/tech/story/mwc-2015-ngmn-alliance-huawei-ericsson-nokia-talk-5g-and-more/2015-03-09.

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