By Jim Machi

Last week, I wrote about the status and projections of LTE subscriptions. So I figured I should do a brief update on 5G this week.  First of all, as I’ve written before, 5G is clearly in its hype phase.  It was all over MWC a couple of months ago.  Although there are no specs yet, nor even any official 5G icon, there has been a lot of work done, which justifies some air time here.

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It’s becoming increasingly clear that 5G will be where the NFV/SDN world intersect.  There has been a lot of work done on NFV, with still much more to do, and there will be NFV/SDN deployments before 5G ever hits the streets. But 5G will most likely be built on NFV, so it won’t be a “choice” anymore. It will be the way you implement it.  5G needs to support many more use cases than networks have in the past, given that networks aren’t just designed for voice or for high speed web access this time around – they’ll incorporate IoT connectivity, which comes with a huge variety of use cases such as connected cars, remote health care, and robotic (including drones) control.  Of course, they’ll also be designed for very high speed mobile broadband access as well.

One interesting concept coming forth is known as “network slicing” where the physical network architecture (built on NFV/SDN), is “sliced” into virtual networks that are tailored to specific vertical industries or use cases (i.e., the connected car use case, connected sensor use case).  The infrastructure therefore can be optimized for that service slice, as the needs of the service slice would be different.  The programmability / elasticity / etc. of the NFV networks would therefore enable this concept to actually occur.

5G will introduce a new lifestyle to the masses by accommodating many more use cases. The questions is when all of this will happen.

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