Though no single 5G requirement is yet set in stone, there has been some consensus from various industrial partnerships, standards bodies, and regulatory agencies on a vision for 5G. Some aspects of this vision are debated as to when they may be realized, but a common timeframe is to have a full 5G definition with partial parameters rolled out by the year 2020.
Several governments, research organizations, and corporations have already developed proof-of-concept demonstrations and are planning to incorporate predicted 5G capabilities in some of their upcoming devices and infrastructure developments. As 5G is a global interest, many countries, and inter-country collaborations, have developed visions and steering organizations to contribute to the development of 5G.
The table above describes the main focus areas and some of the most dominate goals for 5G. One of the aspects of this vision is to have truly global wireless connectivity with incredible speeds in urban and indoor environments. As 5G is also seen as the enabling technology for IoT/IoE applications, supporting tens to hundreds of devices per node, even when moving around an environment, is a significant goal.
To support virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) systems, reducing the end-to-end latency below human perceptible limits, is another significant target area. Even lower latency would be necessary to assist with highly coordinate machine-type communications, such as V2V communication between autonomous cars, or vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. Critical applications would also require military level of assurance for up-time and interference immunity.
With an additional layer of devices all communicating vital information, having to transport that data, and further processing would consume huge amounts of power. Some of the remote sensor node devices will also likely be battery powered. Hence, the need for much more energy efficient communication protocols and low cost distributed data services. Reducing the cost per device is also seen as a method of enabling the expansion of multitudinous connected systems. This would require much more efficient design, manufacturing, and testing systems, which may pose a challenge considering the relative complexity of these upcoming smart devices.
Ultimately, avoiding the forced obsolescence of current 4G and prior technologies is another perceived necessity from service providers. The infrastructure investment in 4G LTE has eclipsed tens of billions of dollars annually, and the full capability of the 4G vision has yet to be completed on the proposed scale. Some sources suggest that unless the cost per bit for 5G service drops by factors of hundreds to thousands, the user price for service would be several times what current mobile service costs are.