Telenor is involved in several activities related to 5G. In Norway, Telenor is running several 5G pilots in cooperation with private and public sectors within areas such as autonomous vehicles, remote health services and disaster management. We are also piloting in Denmark and have conducted showcases in Thailand and Malaysia. Further, Telenor is leading a 3-year pan-European research and innovation project (the ViNNi-project) with 23 partner organisations. The purpose of this EU-funded project is to accelerate the uptake of 5G in Europe by providing an end-to-end facility that validates the performance of new 5G technologies by operating trials of advanced vertical sector services. Telenor is also engaging with key international bodies such as 3GPP, the main engine for standardising 5G and exchanging 5G learnings with other operators.
As with any mobile technology generation, the transition to 5G will be gradual and offer new and welfare enhancing capabilities and services. During the next years, 4G technologies will continue to be utilised and developed as these technologies currently give society the most effective solutions. 5G will be introduced in steps based on local market needs as 5G technology matures and new business cases are developed. This means that 4G will play a supporting role to 5G during the initial roll-out phases.
5G will be more efficient than previous generations, and will pave the way for new and innovative ways of digitalising operations in both public and private sectors with additional benefits such as reduced environmental impact (e.g. reduced carbon footprint).
Three main use case categories have been defined for 5G:
Enhanced Mobile BroadBand, eMBB: Builds on the existing 4G mobile broadband model by providing higher bit rates and improved efficiencies. Mobile operators recognise this need, given the expected growth in general mobile usage of internet-based content and services. Several markets, such as Japan and South Korea, are driving eMBB to support the growing density of traffic in their major cities. In addition, several early initiatives are underway to use mobile systems to provide cost efficient alternatives to fixed services (Fixed Wireless Access) to homes and offices.
Massive Internet of Things, mIoT: Addresses the support for high density of connected devices, e.g. related to smart cities, smart energy grids, and so forth. Sensors, control units, and other connected devices will be used to optimise time, effort and performance in various contexts. Besides supporting a huge number of devices, power consumption of the devices is reduced to allow for extended battery operation of up to 10 years. Many companies and the public sector deem mIoT as interesting for addressing new business verticals such as eHealth monitoring, transport management and production control.
Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication, URLLC: Is designed to support business or mission critical communication scenarios, such as during emergency situations. Remotely operated or autonomous vehicles or robots also belong to this category. Many use cases are still to emerge, and we expect governmental agencies and specific industries and possibly gaming to drive this. Examples include public safety services (police, ambulance and fire departments), remote operation of excavator/mining vehicles, industrial robots and virtual and augmented reality used for remote inspection, remote medical intervention and entertainment.
The different use cases will create value to society in various ways and their introduction will depend on the value they contribute to the actors involved.
Many of the expected use cases can be introduced using 4G and will be further improved or scaled by 5G. The key improvements offered by 5G will be lower latency, higher peak rates, better resource utilisation and more flexible business models/partnerships. It will take some time before 5G handsets are widely available, but several use cases such as those within mIoT will not depend on mass market device availability.
Initially 5G coverage may be spotty, meaning that a smooth integration with 4G is needed. This will also be important to take into account when deciding upon support for certain use cases. If, for example, autonomous vehicles depend on 5G coverage, 5G will have to be rolled out according to the relevant geographical areas and somewhat lower service levels have to be planned for when outside of 5G coverage.