Telecom is moving steadily toward an interesting amalgamation of various technologies and areas of intellect. As we move toward 5G, telecom is looking to encompass and engage itself in all aspects of modern living; from media to mobility, driving to dining; from healthcare to high fashion, from photography to payments; from learning to licensing, from financing to farming. These are not individual technologies per-se, these are use-cases, adoptions of various technology trends. The 5G era is envisioned as an interwoven tapestry of various threads, a smooth amalgamation of available techniques for a better human existence. Transformation and convergence of ICT network is being driven alongside the telecom leap to the next generation. Capabilities of communication are being pushed to new frontiers, enabling a machine-to-machine interaction, hyperlocal services, and on-demand adaptability.
Data requirement and availability are both growing and at an exponential rate. The trends in technology are both causing and aiding this exponential growth of data. Monthly consumption of data in India is in the range of 3 Exabytes and in 5 years, is expected to climb 4 times to 12 EB and to a 136 EB level globally.
The next-gen networks must be built to meet a number of individual user and enterprise needs:
- Ubiquitous, ultra-broadband network would be supported through new kinds of network deployment, including ultra-dense radio networking with self-backhauling, device to device communication, dynamic spectrum re-farming, and radio access infrastructure sharing under 5G;
- Immersive experiences involving ultra high definition video and virtual reality applications can be supported by upwards of 1 GB/s data speeds and high-speed processing;
- Mobile cloud services need fiber based transportation providing at least 10 Gbps rates;
- Latency and response times in the range of unit milliseconds so as to support real-time mobile control and vehicle to vehicle communication;
- Seamless delivery of services through instant switching between different radio access technologies;
- Massive capacity and always-on is the range expected now as the world moves from eight billion mobile users and one billion IoT users to nine billion mobile users and four billion IoT users;
- IoT applications today generate small data volumes from a large number of connections however this is evolving into applications such as traffic safety, automated vehicles, drones, industrial automation that involve higher data and stringent requirements on availability, delay, and reliability;
- Energy consumption, storage, and recharge are areas requiring special engineering considering the sheer scale;
- Smart cities are vehicles for urban progress and citizens’ expectations and again are dependent on a strong telecom backbone for their delivery. The entire expectation of connected, responsive, and digital administration relies on monitoring, data analytics, connectivity, and real-time response for its delivery; and
- Video is the main driver behind the exponential data growth and is likely to become even more predominant as emerging media formats and applications such as streaming high quality video, video component in online content, video sharing, larger devices, better screen resolutions, 360-degree videos, high definition videos, demand and consume high capacity.
The technology trends creating maximum buzz today have a common thread; artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality/virtual reality, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, fintech, machine-to- machine communications (MMC) are all data-intensive, require strong networking and rely on real time responses. This inevitably places great expectations on the telecom network in its entirety as well as individually on network operators, service providers, infrastructure providers, solution architects. It is not only about creating bigger networks or adding more base stations or increasing power or having more equipment or more spectrum. The entire ecosystem has to be attuned to the requirement of using data to create value.