December 18, 2015
Predictions can be tricky no matter what industry, field or profession you belong to. For example, who would have ever anticipated that the Golden State Warriors would be the 2015 NBA World Champions when only five years ago they were a 36-win and 46-loss team? And just when you thought the Seattle Seahawks had it in the bag during Super Bowl XLIX when they were down 28-24 and had the football on the New England Patriots one yard line, who would have predicted that the Patriots would take home the trophy? Sports aside, and in relation to the wireless world, predictions, forecasts and trends can go in a whole different direction than expected. Thus, it’s (almost) safe to say that there are a few predictions that may be made by virtue of the pool of evidence for specific trends that are currently innovating the technology industry as 2016 approaches.
LTE: 4G LTE will continue to grow and mature in both its development and deployment. LTE will provide the mobile broadband foundation for future 5G deployments. Expect more than 490 LTE networks to be in service in 2016 with over 150 of them employing LTE-Advanced technology features. Total LTE connections should reach more than 1.5 billion by year-end 2016. The technology deployment of LTE-Advanced is expected to include more than just the popular feature of Carrier Aggregation in 2016.
Internet of Things (IoT): There is a large, powerful and fast train rolling down the tracks called the IoT ecosystem. The ecosystem will continue to grow as consumers, businesses and vertical industries open up their minds and wallets to deploying IoT solutions for the various benefits it can provide. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) IoT standards will make great advancements in 2016 as they work through the trade-offs of performance, mobility, power, cost and complexity. Look for the Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) to make a lot of progress in the 3GPP standards area.
5G: Let’s make no mistake, standardized 5G commercial deployments are not expected to be deployed until 2020 and beyond. However, in 2016, 5G will continue to make great progress in pre-standardization activities throughout the world. Phase 1 of the standards is expected to be completed by the second half of 2018 at the end of 3GPP Release 15. There is a lot of work to be done in 2016, but great progress will be made. 4G Americas, the Voice of 5G for the Americas, has been working on the use cases and requirements of 5G as well as spectrum planning over the past two years. We are liaising with other global organizations to set the stage in the pre-standardization process and continue our lead in innovation for North America.
Spectrum: In 2016, all the key stakeholders in the wireless ecosystem will need to do a paradigm shift in how they think about spectrum. The mobile broadband industry needs more exclusive use licensed spectrum in 2016. However, the mobile broadband industry will have to continue to consider all types of spectrum to meet their customers’ insatiable wireless data demands. This will include continued progress on licensed, shared and unlicensed spectrum opportunities, as well as consideration of high band spectrum above 6 GHz that was never before considered for the mobile broadband industry. In 2016, expect governments from around the world to focus on their planning and roadmap for 5G high band spectrum for the wireless industry.
The Connected Universe: There are many forms of technology currently in existence which are all competing for customers’ mindshare and money. However, mobile broadband technologies continue to be at the center of our connected universe as the reliance on smartphones and high speed data communications grows at unprecedented levels. In 2016, expect mobile broadband to continue producing innovative solutions to improve our connected lives through connected cars, homes, wearables and new enterprise solutions.
The mobile broadband path is successful due to excellent planning in standards bodies and the many fora, such as 4G Americas, which works cohesively to build our interconnected world.