Even if 5G will represent a business model revolution (growth fundamentally based on new applications for non-human users), its technological path is evolutionary, and based largely on innovations for advanced 4G.
One way of illustrating the “evolutionary” nature of the transition from 4G to 6G is to note the language now used to describe “pre-5G” developments. Sierra Wireless, for example, now talks about “5GNR” and “5G LTE.”
Some skeptics will argue that neither is “real” 5G; optimists will say such criticisms miss the point. The 5GNR air interface uses 4G signaling, but a 5G-compliant radio. Some internet service providers have pushed for a rapid introduction of the 5GNR standard because they plan to use 5GNR to support new fixed wireless services based on use of the mobile infrastructure.
5G LTE arguably is the bigger stretch, as most would say that is simply the latest release of LTE Advanced Pro (Release 15). On the other hand, Release 15 features are foundational for standards-based 5G.
Support for internet of things applications (LTE-M, NB-IOT, V2X (automotive) provide examples, adding the ability to support long-battery life, low data rate services that will be key for 5G.
Also important is use of aggregation capabilities that use both licensed and unlicensed spectrum. Much-lower latency and higher speeds also are key features of 5G that Release 15 will introduce first for 4G.
“it’s important to note that 5G LTE is not a ‘transitional’ technology; as mentioned, it’s an essential part of a true 5G system,” Sierra Wireless argues.