ITU Blog: A new age of orchestration for 5G

As we approach 2020, one of the most important areas of ITU work will be our international standardization of 5G systems.

ITU is supporting the development of a 5G environment where we will all have access to highly reliable communications, and where trusted ICTs will be key to innovation in every industry sector.

5G networks will be highly agile, orchestrated, all-around players

In 2012, ITU established a program on “International Mobile Telecommunications for 2020 and Beyond (IMT-2020)”, providing the framework for 5G research and development worldwide. ITU has defined the framework and overall objectives of the 5G standardization process, as well as the roadmap to guide this process to its conclusion by 2020.

“IMT Vision”, published in September 2015 as Recommendation ITU-R M.2083, put forward an initial set of 5G performance targets, which have now been elaborated more precisely in a draft report providing “Minimum requirements related to technical performance for IMT-2020 radio interface(s)”. This draft report is on course for final approval in November 2017.

These two documents make for very informative reading. Alongside enhanced mobile broadband and the Internet of Things, 5G will support ultra-reliable and low-latency communications for applications such as automated driving, remote medical surgery, collaborative robotics, and advanced virtual reality. At this high end of 5G applications, in some cases we will demand end-to-end latencies as low as 1 millisecond.

What becomes evident when looking at the ambitious performance targets of 5G systems, and the wide variety of envisioned 5G applications, is that future networks will need to be agile all-around players able to perform a wide array of specialized functions.

5G will make no compromises when it comes to performance

Engineers are developing specialized air interfaces, and specialized networks to support those air interfaces, to ensure that every application is able to perform to its full potential. As work has progressed on 5G air interfaces, it has become abundantly clear that today’s network architectures and orchestration techniques simply cannot support the performance targets of 5G systems.

In May 2015, ITU established a Focus Group on the network aspects of IMT-2020 to address exactly this challenge.

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