So What Happens to 4G When 5G Arrives?

So What Happens to 4G When 5G Arrives?5G is expected to be available to the public within the next few years and companies such as Qualcomm are already developing 5G ready chips. You may be starting to wonder to how the current standard will fit into the new 5G technology, and how smoothly the transition will occur. With previous transitions between generations being fairly significant with a clear divide between the standards that preceded and succeeded, it looks like the move from 4G to 5G technology may be a bit more smooth. This transition appears to echo that of the 2G to 3G move, which would be good news for deployment plans as mobile carriers have spent a tremendous amount of money deploying LTE networks and hope to continue that investment in the future.

“I like to explain it that in every generation we try to do two things: one is do more of the same, which is add more peak rates and capacity to support more data growth; and the other is to expand where wireless can be used to make more money,” explained Michael Murphy, CTO for North America at Nokia. “5G is the same. It provides higher peak rates and higher capacity and has the second part in terms of the various revenue sources.”

Because LTE networks are currently providing large amounts of coverage and carriers are quickly increasing the capabilities of the networks with LTE-Advanced enhancements, 4G technology is being seen as the foundation upon which 5G is built upon.

“Things like evolved packet core and LTE will continue to serve as a solid control plane for 5G,” said Larry Davis, national sales manager at Anritsu. “It’s always a tough issue for the industry to see how far out we can look past where we are in terms of LTE deployment. We see 5G as an evolution of 4G and thus see current 4G networks as being very important as we move toward 5G. … A lot of the challenges are being introduced today so we are getting some work on them and they are not going to be new. They are already here in terms of heterogeneous networks, for instance, and that is all stuff that we are working on today. Getting it right in terms of 4G will ensure that we are prepared for 5G.”

With all of the excitement over 5G, you may be thinking the technology will be upon us at any given moment. However, as with past transitions, there will definitely be some speed bumps along the way, before the technology is neatly ironed out.

“I would agree that we are indeed seeing a lot of 5G hype at the moment, with some of that perhaps a bit overhyped for what we will actually see in terms of 5G networks,” said Bill Ho, principal analyst at 556 Ventures. “But, we are seeing greater tangential benefits to wireless connectivity and more specifically to what 5G advances can bring to the market. We may still be some years away from seeing the full benefit, but the industry is making steady and significant progress toward a 5G future.”

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Doug Atkinson

President at Solutions Review
An entrepreneur and executive with a passion for enterprise technology, Doug founded Solutions Review in 2012. He has previously served as a newspaper boy, a McDonald's grill cook, a bartender, a political consultant, a web developer, the VP of Sales for e-Dialog - a digital marketing agency - and as Special Assistant to Governor William Weld of Massachusetts.
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