Work on new technologies that will form the foundation of 5G standards has been occurring for the last few years; however, the formal standards process has just begun, according to ABI Research.
A range of major vendors are working on all aspects of 5G including: Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Networks; plus device, semiconductor and IP vendors including Intel, InterDigital, Qualcomm, Samsung, various mobile operators, academic bodies and start-ups as well. “These companies are all waving their 5G flags, although 5G definitions and visions remain very vague,” commented research director Philip Solis. “But this is not merely marketing. These companies are most certainly putting a stake in the ground with regards to contributions to 5G that will leverage their work, competitive strengths, and most crucially, patents.”
Some highly influential companies, such as Qualcomm, have remained quiet until recently about their vision and plans for 5G. Meanwhile, more companies, previously not very involved with standardization efforts are putting their hands up. Apple’s involvement with the NGMN 5G Initiative is a perfect example, as is Google’s acquisition of Alpental—even if Google might only use a 5G or 5G-like air interface to augment fiber-to-the-home deployments with a combination of fiber-to-the-curb and 5G.
These companies are working together so the standardization process can hit the ground running. They are doing their own work, forming alliances with universities and other companies, and hedging their bets by partaking in different research projects that focus on different parts of the network and air interface, in an effort to dictate the direction of 5G.
“Expect efforts to get intellectual property into standards to be fiercer than with 4G, but naturally much of the existing IP will be in play as well,” added Solis. “More companies learned the importance of having a fair amount of IP with 2G and 3G, so the 4G playing field evened up a little. This trend will continue with 5G.”
Companies should also move beyond sometimes vague marketing and generalizations around 5G and the IoT and create more definitive messaging around how technology will improve specific applications. They need to better describe how waveforms and modulation schemes best apply to increasingly mixed-use traffic. This can only help them with more brand building and influence in the standardization process.