Through the generations of cellular and mobile technology, the most apparent changes have been in the radio technology and new services enabled, whether digital modulation or text messaging. While every new generation is a leap forward in performance and new services, the overarching trend in the mobility infrastructure has paralleled the trend in other networks; all IP-based services, and all-IP-based infrastructure. The reason for this is simple: packet-oriented infrastructure matches the capability of the endpoints, the communication service provider/cloud infrastructure, and the software. In addition, all-IP networks are already proven to scale to large numbers of endpoints. 5G is no exception: IoT, vehicle-to-network, augmented reality, and ubiquitous computing will all require a pervasive set of interconnected IP networks ready to provide the flexible underlay infrastructure that 5G demands. 5G is more than a new radio; it is the culmination of mobility and Internet architectures converging with one another to create a network platform that is high-capacity, always-on, and ubiquitous.
While current networks can support 5G deployments in “standalone mode,” to realize the full potential the following abilities must be intrinsic in the underlay network:
If performance is lacking in any one of these steps, the network’s ability to support 5G can be impaired.
5G won’t be just the mobile instantiation of the Internet … 5G will be the Internet. It will have the bandwidth, ubiquity, and service-readiness needed for always-on wireless access, to such a degree that it will end up surpassing many existing forms of wired Internet access and cloud services. Recognizing the critical importance of this latest wave of network convergence will prepare investors, operators, and consumers to benefit from 5G as it is defined, marketed, and deployed globally.