5G specs are finalised and we now know what to expect

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has published a draft of what it believes will become the final 5G specification – offering us a glimpse at what to expect in terms of performance.

If you want all the granular details, hit the draft link above, otherwise, we’ll try and break down the highlights of “Draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.TECH PERF REQ]” for you here with less jargon and formulae.

To be truly classified as 5G, networks are expected to meet these minimum requirements:

  • Downlink peak data rate of 20 Gbit/s.

  • Uplink peak data rate of 10 Gbit/s.

  • Downlink peak spectral efficiency of 30 bit/s/Hz.

  • Uplink peak spectral efficiency of 15 bit/s/Hz.

  • Downlink user experienced data rate of 100 Mbit/s.

  • Uplink user experienced data rate of 50 Mbit/s.

For comparison, current players such as Nokia and Samsung have only reached 10Gbps (10 Gbit/s) and 7.5Gbps (7.5 Gbit/s) downlink speeds in their current 5G network tests, ITU’s expectation of 20Gbps (20 Gbit/s) is ambitious but could be achievable.

Researchers at the University of Surrey managed to attain speeds of up to 1Tbps in their 5G tests, but the research was conducted in lab conditions which are not as reliable as real-world field tests. With the expected wide rollout of 5G not expected until 2020, it provides several years of further research and development to meet the ITU’s specification.

Along with the above speed and efficiency requirements, the ITU also expects 5G to have no interruption time when switching between radios, at least 100MHz available bandwidth at all times and support for 1GHz in higher bands, and a minimum of one million connected devices per square kilometer.

There will also be mobility classifications for walking, driving up to 120 km/h, and travelling in high-speed trains up to 500 km/h. Each of these classifications are then placed into test environments for traffic channel link data rates to be normalised.

The draft will now be sent off to a study group to be signed in a November 2017 meeting and the ITU believes this will go through without an issue. A complete roadmap detailing all the next steps leading up to the rollout in 2020 is available here.

What are your thoughts on the 5G specification? Let us know in the comments.

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