Yesterday I had a meeting with some Huawei researchers to brainstorm on the future of wireless with an horizon at 2025. Some interesting points came up.
Technology is now supporting a 100Mbps downstream and 50Mbps upstream. There is already a defined roadmap to multiply by 10 this capacity by the end of this decade.
One should expect Gbps capabilities to be available in many places by 2025, supported by 5G (Future Radio Access – FRA) and beyond.
However, it is not just about capacity and performance. It is about scaling from 10 billion users to 100+billion users in 2025 (clearly the lion share taken by “things”).
Achieving this performances requires the availability of larger chunks of spectrum, different ways of using it but more than that it requires an economic sustainability.
These latter forces architectures that are mixing private investment in micro networks (WiFi and smaller) and in back bones and radio cells similar to what we have today.
In turns, this requires the capability to manage both horizontal roaming (moving form one cell to the next with the same technology, as it is being done today) and to manage vertical roaming, moving from one small cell to a bigger one once you step out of that small cell (it is unlikely that one can provide an overlapping of small cells) and the other way round. It was noted that with present technology moving from a small cell to a larger overlapping one is feasible but the other way round requires more research. It should be achievable by the next decade.
One way to manage the complexity can be through the C-RAN, Cloud-Radio Access Network.
Here the issues are both technological and organisational: who is going to own the cloud, who will be operating it? Will it be an integral part of the infrastructure or will it be a service provided to decouple infrastructure from services?
Another interesting question is: by 2025 are we going to have cell phones? Or will have they be morphed into something different, like wristwatch, table top, shirts, purses…?
And if they will have been morphed into something else, wouldn’t it be that we are now becoming terminals, each of us with her IP address? The overall communications will take place across ambient and we will be the ones defining, by the fact of being in a given place, the ambient. Different people, in the same environment will likely have different communications ambient.
Just by moving my eyes I will be able to direct an incoming video to a specific display surface available in this ambient.