What’s the next big thing in wireless communications after 4G? 5G, of course. But right now there’s a lot of myth mixed with reality. In the second of a two-part analysis, Michael Sullivan-Trainor of Technology Business Research goes inside the next communication wave. Sullivan-Trainor is the executive analyst in the telecom practice at TBR.

HAMPTON, N.H. – The EU plans the future.

While advanced network access speeds and capacity are being demonstrated in APAC and the U.S. continues to optimize 4G, the European Union (EU), which includes many members that have not yet launched LTE, is unifying behind its 5G leadership plan.

At the 2015 Mobile World Congress, the EU Commission announced a multinational initiative called the 5G Public-Private Partnership (5G PPP), along with a €700 million fund to accelerate 5G development. The EU arguably missed the boat on 4G after leading the deployment of 3G, and 4G is most widely adopted in the U.S.

With indications that China, Korea and Japan are planting their flag in the 5G leadership column, the EU could not stand by, so its recent initiative is about national, commercial and civic interests.

According to the EU’s timeline, the following 5G events can be expected:

 2015: 5G PPP research launched with proof of concept of core network elements, culminating in a global consensus on the broad definition, key functionalities and target timetable for 5G

 2016 to 2018: Joint research between the EU, South Korea and Japan targeting frequency bands, supported by regulatory bodies, system definition and optimization, Pan-European experimental infrastructure, experimentation, validation trails, and standards requirement, culminating in the first showcase demonstrations at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea

 2018 to 2020: Production of standards and large-scale demonstrations and trials; close to commercial deployment with selected operators and end users; more than 1 Gigabit bandwidth to be made available at the Tokyo Stadium for the 2020 Olympics, followed by operational deployment

 Beyond 2020: First commercial offers by telecom operators along with optimized cost-effective end-user technology

Operator and Supplier Opportunities

The vision of 5G is driving a powerful set of market initiatives to move the industry forward. Ericsson, Huawei and Samsung, among others, have staked out thought leadership and offered demonstrations while working furiously in their R&D labs to drive technology and hopefully value for their companies and customers.

Operators such as NTT DoCoMo and Hong Kong Telecom have stepped forward with road maps of their own. However, the race is only just beginning and many new players will enter from the cloud and IT worlds to claim their share of the value. Additionally, digital service providers will stake a claim in the value chain as well, with or without network ownership. In a sense, 5G will support an industry struggling with transformation, but the business models will look far different than they do today.


NFV and SDN, Internet of Things, digital media and 5G are moving along parallel paths to redefine not only the technical landscape, but also the business environment for the information and communications technology industry over the next decade. Predicting the winning industry play is fraught with challenges, but playing the game by placing bets on these future technologies (in accordance with a company’s competence and capability) is critical to survival.

TBR believes there are successful models for each industry player, so long as they navigate by the compass points of the new technologies and use cases and release their hold over reliance on the old ones.


About TBR

Technology Business Research, Inc. is a leading independent technology market research and consulting firm specializing in the business and financial analyses of hardware, software, professional services, telecom and enterprise network vendors, and operators. Serving a global clientele, TBR provides timely and actionable market research and business intelligence in a format that is uniquely tailored to clients’ needs. Our analysts are available to further address client-specific issues or information needs on an inquiry or proprietary consulting basis. TBR has been empowering corporate decision makers since 1996. For more information please visit www.tbri.com