MWC 2016 LIVE: 5G to embrace unlicensed bands and Wi-Fi

5gThe 5G technology roadmap will include Wi-Fi and the use of unlicensed spectrum bands, said Nokia’s head of e2e mobile network solutions, Peter Merz.

“Wi-Fi has become a de-facto service and needs to be integrated into 5G,” claimed Merz at a panel session on 5G technology, timelines and applications. “While the use of unlicensed spectrum needs agreed standards, it could be considered a goldmine for 5G, offering huge potential.”

This viewpoint was supported by Ken Stewart, Intel’s chief wireless technologist for its platform engineering group.

“802.11’s roadmap will run alongside that of 5G,” said Stewart. “The IEEE standard provides a very important ecosystem, and is thought to carry more than 50 per cent of today’s wireless data traffic. The development of 802.11 will continue, and will include support for IoT applications in the future.”

However, the Intel exec highlighted the effort involved to design and develop the semiconductor technology necessary to support 5G integrated with other wireless standards.

“5G will require profound semiconductor and software development for the device market. There is a huge engineering effort needed if we’re to meet the timescales.”

A side effect of this, according to Stewart, will be the disappearance of a physical SIM card, especially in small devices. “Operators should be able to embed this functionality into the device, but it has implication on how security is managed and perceived by the subscriber.”

On a more philosophical note, Stewart said that the wireless industry could never really perceive a use for the megabyte speeds it was inventing. “I’m still not sure what the use case will be for 5G, but our past efforts have always paid off.”

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