Standardization of 5G Mobile Networks: A Systematic Literature Review and Current Developments

Standardization of 5G Mobile Networks: A Systematic Literature Review and Current Developments

David Harborth, Maurice Pohl
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/IJSR.2017070101
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According to Rahim Tafazolli from the University of Surrey, users can expect the “perception of infinite capacity” from the future of mobile networks. The fifth generation of mobile networks, 5G, is expected to be released in 2020 and steps up to fulfill various expectations. This article systematically reviews existing research on standardization of 5G and provides an outlook on how to continue best in the future. The review of existing literature shows areas in standardization research, like standardization from a user's perspective, that are rarely covered. In the second part, the focus shifts towards specific publications of relevant standardization organizations and stakeholders for the 5G standardization. By matching the current status of the 5G standardization with historical success factors derived in the first part, this research shows that the standardization process of 5G is on a good way but acknowledges that there is much work to do in the future.
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In 2016, the technology company Cisco has published its Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for the years until 2020. The astonishing estimates are that the worldwide traffic on mobile devices will be 30.6 Exabyte per month. In measures that are more comprehensible this number translates to 30 billion Gigabyte, which is six times the size of a text file containing all the words ever spoken. This huge amount of data traffic, of which 81 percent will be consumed on smartphones, requires a mobile network that is able to handle all those bytes (Cisco Systems, 2016). Aware of this demand, industry and policy have started as early as 2012 to study requirements for a fifth generation of wireless, namely, 5G. If 5G at the end fulfils the requirements that stakeholders desire, the future is going to look a lot different in many areas of everyday life. Commuters will get to work in self-driving cars with the possibility to make more use of the commuting time, sports fans will watch games in 4K UHD quality on their mobile devices and a doctor will know of a patient’s high blood pressure without the patient having even visited him. Despite these interesting prospects, there is still a long way to go until 5G is expected to be diffused in 2020 by the industry (Samsung, 2015).

Many parties, some familiar with mobile network standardization, some not, want to have a say in 5G standardization and all of their interests have to be aligned to catch up with the speed of the market. Unfortunately, their requirements could not be more different. On the one hand, video-on-demand portals (e.g. Netflix) are hoping for high bandwidth to offer their content and on the other hand, online-gaming provider desire low latency to provide a smooth gaming experience. Additionally, producers of smart devices are worried about the power consumption of 5G to extend their devices’ battery lives (The Economist, 2016). This listing also does not even include the requirements of the classical stakeholders: the mobile industry firms and mobile service providers.

The problems of previous standardizations in the mobile area were many, from the poor handling of patent rights in the finding process of the standard to the emergence of two or more technologies that battled for market power (Bekkers, Verspagen, & Smits, 2002; Khan, Qadeer, Ansari, & Waheed, 2009). With this article, we want to outline the needs of standardization in theory and how 5G can avoid the mistakes that happened in previous mobile generation standardizations.

To study the standardization efforts of 5G, we have divided our work into two main parts. At first, a literature review will give the necessary theoretical background on standards theory in the technological area. Secondly, we have conducted an internet search to determine the actors of and the current developments in the 5G standardization process. Before summarizing and aligning the different requirements of these actors, we will briefly go through the history of mobile networks starting with the second generation, the first one that worked with digital signals (Khan et al., 2009). The last chapters in the second part of this article will give an outlook of the challenges that need to be solved until the 5G standard is ready for implementation and provide an estimation of the market chances of 5G. At the end, we will compare the findings of the literature review and especially the ideal way to handle a standard-setting process with the current developments that are happening around 5G. Afterwards a short outlook on future work will be given.

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