The 5th generation of cellular communications (5G) will address the communication needs for humans and devices far beyond 2020 and enable the all-communicating world. Different from earlier generation changes, 5G will not only considerably improve the telecommunication services currently offered to the end users, but it will enable the support of evolved services tailored for other industries and humankind as such, for instance vehicular safety and transport system efficiency, industrial control, eHealth applications etc.
When communication moves beyond communication between people to include communication between machines as well, there is a fundamental impact on people’s daily life. Old problems become possible to solve and old solutions are replaced by new ones. In this change, there will be new business opportunities and reshaping of existing industries. 5G will play an important role in this change since it provides the communication basis underlying the change.
The key challenge in the design of 5G, as opposed to earlier communications generations, is that it is not built for one clearly specified use case (as this was the case in e.g. 4G, which was from the very beginning tailored towards mobile broadband packet data), but is instead foreseen to serve a wide range of use cases, for which the business models behind are not always fully clear. Furthermore, it is expected that the entire communications ecosystem will change strongly, with new stakeholders such as vertical industries or novel forms of infrastructure owners entering the market, and a consequent massive change in the communications value chain. This uncertainty in the 5G communications landscape has led to a high global competition on visions, concepts and understandings of 5G.
In this environment, the ongoing METIS project has established itself as the global lighthouse project on 5G, by determining key 5G scenarios, test cases and KPIs which are in the meanwhile globally referred to, and by identifying and structuring the key technology components that are necessary to fulfil the 5G vision of the all-connected world. This has so far given Europe a clear leading position in 5G.
However, there is still a long way to go towards the successful deployment of an economically feasible and energy-efficient overall 5G system well addressing the diverse 5G requirements. While previous research has yielded a manifold of radio access technology elements tailored to different 5G use cases, it is now essential to design the technology for an efficient integration of these many concepts among each other and with legacy radio access technology into one holistic 5G system that can efficiently scale to meet all 5G use cases. Further, the proposed technology components have to be complemented by all further architectural elements that are needed for a comprehensive and detailed radio access network specification according to technology readiness level 2. Finally, it has to be proven that this overall radio access network design is techno-economically feasible and energy-efficient, and the standardization process has to be started in a well organized way.