White papers

We have extracted all the distinctive ideas from around the world and in particular from those leading organisations and industrial companies who are likely to have the most impact in shaping the direction of 5G and 6G.

6G wireless: A new strategic vision

In this white paper, we leverage the wealth of technical and commercial experience of the industry partners of the University of Surrey 5GIC and set out a commercially credible vision for the successor to 5G.

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White papers by sector

The papers are listed by sector for research managers and industry executives.

National Infrastructure Commission report - connected future

December 2016

The Commission’s central finding is that mobile connectivity has become a necessity. The market has driven great advances since the advent of the mobile phone but government must now play an active role to ensure that basic services are available wherever we live, work and travel, and our roads, railways and city centres must be made 5G ready as quickly as possible.

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EU Commission - EU unveils its vision for 5G

March 2015

The European Commission is the EU's executive body. A number of European Commissioners will influence the development of 5G across the EU including Günther H. Oettinger, the European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society and Carlos Manuel Félix Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science.

The European Commission and Europe's tech industry presented their vision for 5G. A global vision and standards for 5G was discussed and decided together with international partners. With this early input, the EU stood a good chance that key elements of its vision would form part of global standards.

The EU Commission’s 5G strategy has since been to work with the EU Technology Industries (via the 5G Public Private Partnership 5G PPP) to create the industrial base, the know-how and research to deliver the future 5G digital infrastructure via one single global standard for 5G. They have come behind the technology vision of 5G PPP and plan to provide €700 million of collaborative R&D support through to 2020.

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Ofcom - Laying the foundations for next generation mobile services: update on bands above 6 GHz

April 2015

Ofcom is the United Kingdom communications regulator. It regulates the TV and radio sectors, fixed line telecoms, mobiles, postal services, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate.

Ofcom is working to enable future mobile services, including ‘5G’ – the fifth generation of mobile services, whilst taking account of other users of spectrum. 5G networks are expected to comprise a number of different elements, each with different spectrum requirements. Spectrum at frequencies both below and above 6 GHz is expected to be relevant.

Ofcom has produced a comprehensive study of bands above 6 GHz that appear to have the best prospects for global harmonisation and fit within the UK's long term planning. This is an important preparation for key international discussions for WRC-15 at which the scope of a future WRC-19 agenda item on globally harmonised bands above 6 GHz will be considered. Ofcom has arrived at a short list comprising: 10.125-10.225 GHz / 10.475-10.575 GHz; 31.8-33.4 GHz; 40.5-43.5 GHz; 45.5-48.9 GHz and 66-71 GHz. The world will need to wait until 2019 before there is absolute certainty but there may be earlier signs of consensus emerging particularly within the EU. Bands under 6 GHz have not been considered yet.

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5G security overview

August 2017, revised March 2018

Security is fundamental to the successful delivery of 5G networks across a wide range of industry verticals. This document aims to explain why security is fundamental to 5G, and how it is different from 2G/3G/4G security in relation to requirements, threat landscape and solutions.

Specifically, this document looks at the stakeholders of 5G and demonstrates how security is a core driver for each group. A set of core challenges is presented and appropriate next steps are listed.

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Meeting the challenge of "Universal" coverage, reach and reliability in the coming 5G era


Everyone can foresee a gigantic capacity challenge for wireless networks over the coming decades. The research community is responding well by developing 5G technology in higher bands (eg mmWave) that will unlock huge data rates up to 10 Gb/s or more but its practical application will be limited to dense urban areas.

This inevitably leads to a new coverage challenge being pulled behind this capacity challenge i.e, the coverage of higher speeds and capacity. Nowhere will this challenge be greater than in rural areas where it will be an economic struggle to significantly lift the capacity above the current 4G coverage prediction of 2 Mb/s. Yet in spite of such a glaring need there is scant attention being paid by the 5G research community to improving universal mobile coverage. This White Paper is based on a brain-storming workshop on Rural 5G held at the 5GIC in 2015. The paper reviews a range of possible ways to improve rural coverage without regard to whether this needs new technology or just a more radical way of applying existing technology. This is in the spirit of the 5GIC’s vision of 5G being both a new technology and at the same time being the envelope within which all the technologies (new and existing) work together to deliver "always sufficient" resources to match users’ demands.

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The flat distributed cloud (FDC) 5G architecture revolution

The paper proposes a disruptive change to cellular networking that reaches out to embrace an end-to-end view including appropriate aspects of the fixed / content distribution network.

The vision is of a more connected experience over a dynamic cloud-based architecture that separates the user plane and control plane and is much flatter. Amongst the design objectives is a more context-aware network that aspires to predict popular content, collates group content and gets user data ready ‘just in time’ by harvesting user profile information that is traded between user and service and/or networks. The architecture integrates the Internet of Things, in a graduated way, bringing legacy IoT with it and adding new 5G SCADA-like (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) control system capabilities to the cellular framework. The considerably more efficient resulting network is designed to employ the best of evolving NVF/SDN implementations and is able to sit on C-RAN, H-RAN and D-RAN according to transmission options.

For an ‘at-a-glance’ summary 5G.co.uk has produced a helpful overview of the paper.

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NGMN white paper

March 2015

The NGMN Alliance was founded by leading international mobile network operators in 2006. Its objective is to ensure that the functionality and performance of next generation network infrastructure, service platforms and devices will meet the requirements of operators and, ultimately, will satisfy end user demand and expectations.

The fifth generation of mobile technology (5G) is positioned to address the demands and business contexts of 2020 and beyond. It is expected to enable a fully mobile and connected society and to empower socio-economic transformations in countless ways many of which are unimagined today, including those for productivity, sustainability and well-being. The demands of a fully mobile and connected society are characterised by the tremendous growth in connectivity and density/volume of traffic, the required multi-layer densification in enabling this, and the broad range of use cases and business models expected.

The most important feature of this paper is that it is the first collective statement of requirements for 5G by over 20 leading mobile network operators from across the globe. Whilst still capable of refinement, it contains a good vision statement, reasonable depth of use case examples and some stretching targets. NGMN envisages 5G as an end-to-end system that includes all aspects of the network, with a design that achieves a high level of convergence and leverages today’s access mechanisms (and their evolution), including fixed, together with some new 5G Radio Access Technologies (RATs). Twenty-five use case examples are given that are grouped into eight use case families. The concept of a 5G network slice is introduced that comprises a collection of 5G network functions and specific RAT settings that are combined together for the specific use case or business model. Specific numerical KPI targets appear for connection density and traffic density linked to the use cases. The "50+ Mb/s everywhere" ambition has to be read in conjunction with the qualification of 95 per cent of locations for 95 per cent of the time. NGMN seeks a more transparent and predictable IPR eco-system for 5G. The paper sets out a 5G roadmap leading to a launch of first commercial systems in 2020.

SK Telecom’s view on 5G vision, architecture, technology, service, and spectrum

October 2014

SK Telecom, established in 1984, is Korea's largest telecommunications company, with more than 28 million subscribers and accounts for over 50 per cent of the Korean cellular market.

Whilst voice service was the centre of the mobile telecommunications until the third generation, innovative technology and the evolution of services in 4G has led to a significant paradigm shift towards data-centric mobile telecommunications. Recent mobile data traffic trends show that the types of services, such as multimedia and the internet-based services which used to be available only with wired networks have now become major content in the wireless network environment as well. This change in mobile content usage patterns is attributable to, in the process of the technology evolution from 3G to 4G, a rapid improvement of data transmission speeds and development of a range of new services by mobile service providers for differentiated customer experience. The technology evolution is moving beyond 4G.

This is a very comprehensive blueprint for 5G that coherently brings together a wide variety of topics in a fair amount of detail. The paper is driven out from a vision that "5G always promises five great values" of user experience (ultra-high speed e.g. 1 Gb/s and low latency e.g. few milliseconds), connectivity (massive / seamless), intelligence (intelligent / flexible), reliability (reliable secure operation) and efficiency (cost and energy). The technology review is wide ranging from new image technologies that will generate ever higher data capacity demand to the huge implications for the core fixed optical fibre network. SK is looking for a "5G network as a service". Their analysis of global spectrum state of play identifies 1452-1492 MHz, 3.6-4.2 MHz, 27-29 GHz and 70-80 GHz as more likely candidate opportunities. The great strength of this whitepaper is that it forces a very holistic view at a sensible level of detail.

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NTT DoCoMo's views on 5G toward 2020 and beyond


NTT DoCoMo is Japan's largest mobile service provider, serving more than 60 million customers. The company operates a high-quality nationwide 3G network and an ultra-high-speed LTE network, one of the world's first launched in 2010, which was expected to be available to more than 98 per cent of Japan's population by FY2014.

During the last few decades, mobile communications have significantly contributed to the economic and social developments of both developed and developing countries. Today, mobile communications form an indispensable part of the daily lives of millions of people in the world: a situation that is expected to continue and become even more undeniable in the future. Currently many operators worldwide are deploying Long Term Evolution (LTE) to offer faster access with lower latency and high efficiency than its predecessors 3G and 3.5G. LTE-Advanced, which is an evolution of LTE and a "true 4G" mobile broadband, is under development and its initial service rollout is expected by 2015. Amid such a situation, the anticipated challenges of the future are so tremendous that there is a vastly increased need for a new mobile communications system with further enhanced capabilities, namely a fifth generation system.

5G is viewed as the combination of an enhanced LTE Radio Access Technology plus a new Radio Access Technology (RAT) not constrained by backwards compatibility (to better exploit spectrum above 10 GHz). NTT DoCoMo proposes a separation of the control plane and user plan where the first is in a low band and the second is in a high band (so called "phantom cell") and with devices that are capable of dual connectivity. The paper reviews the issues affecting a new 5G RAT including channel width. It sees this varying according to spectrum with 100 MHz to 1 GHz needed in bands 10 – 30 GHz and greater than 1 GHz needed in bands above 30 GHz. DoCoMo’s implementation plan is for the revolutionary new RAT to be introduced in an evolutionary way in 2020 alongside LTE and enhanced LTE with tight interworking.

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Huawei 5G – A technology vision


Huawei is a global leader of ICT solutions. Continuously innovating based on customer needs, it is committed to enhancing customer experiences and creating maximum value for telecom carriers, enterprises, and consumers. Its telecom network equipment, IT products and solutions, and smart devices are used in 170 countries and regions. With annual sales revenue of USD39.6 billion in 2013, Huawei ranked 285th on the Global Fortune 500.

5G wireless networks will support 1000-fold gains in capacity, connections for at least 100 billion devices, and a 10 Gb/s individual user experience capable of extremely low latency and response times. Deployment of these networks will emerge between 2020 and 2030. 5G radio access will be built upon both new radio access technologies (RAT) and evolved existing wireless technologies (LTE, HSPA, GSM and WiFi). Breakthroughs in wireless network innovation will also drive economic and societal growth in entirely new ways. 5G will realize networks capable of providing zero-distance connectivity between people and connected machines.

The increasingly diverse and wide range of mobile services of widely differing performance requirements are neatly illustrated in their 5G Hyper Service Cube: with throughput (kb/s per km2), Links (per km2) and delay (mS) as the three orthogonal axes. 5G is seen to include ultra-dense radio networking with self-backhauling, device-to-device communications, dynamic spectrum refarming,  radio access infrastructure sharing and utilisation of any spectrum and any access technology for the best delivery of services. Some quite demanding numbers appear like 10 Gb/s user data rate for a fibre like experience for mobile "cloud" services to a 1000-fold improvement in energy per bit consumption. Huawei identifies the technology challenges that remain including miniaturised multi-antenna technologies that integrate the antenna and RF (they term "radiotenna").

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Samsung - 5G Vision from the DMC R&D Center of Samsung Electronics

February 2015

Samsung Electronics is a multinational electronics company and the flagship company of the Samsung Group. Its products include computers, digital TV, liquid crystal and light emitting displays, mobile phones, semi-conductors, mobile phones and telecommunications networking equipment (amongst others). In 2013, Samsung achieved number one ranking in sales revenue and market share in the mobile phone market with a 32.3 per cent share of the global smartphone market.

Samsung envisions the fifth Generation (5G) mobile communication era to be the beginning of a full scale internet of things. Billions of connected devices autonomously interconnect with one another while ensuring personal privacy. The unprecedented latencies offered by 5G Networks will enable users to indulge in gigabit speed immersive services regardless of geographical and time dependent factors. This white paper introduces you to future services, key requirements, and enabling technologies that will herald in the 5G era that is expected to revolutionize the way we experience mobile services.

A 5G "rainbow" requirements of seven Key Performance Indices is proposed to realise a wide ranging service vision. Peak data speeds would be 50 times greater than 4G with only one-tenth of the latency. The paper goes through seven technology areas that will contribute to delivering the seven key performance indicators. These are mmWave systems, Multi-RAT, Advanced Networks, Advanced MIMO (Multiple-in, Multiple-out antenna system), Adaptive Coding & Modulation & Multiple Access, Advanced Device-to-Device and Advanced Small Cell. They propose Frequency Shift Keying and Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (FQAM) that they claim can deliver a three-fold improvement in cell edge performance due to non-Gaussian inter-cell interference. This could contribute to achieving 1 Gb/s everywhere. There is an excellent review of the characteristics of 28 GHz based on their extensive measurement programme. Full-Dimension MIMO (FD-MIMO) with accurate 3-D beam steering and tracking at base stations is shown to overcome the propagation disadvantages of using mmWave spectrum over distances of 200m. Safety is assured by mobile devices steering beams away from a user’s head. The deployment scenario they envisage is for the existing 4G macro-cells to control the operation of an overlay of new 5G small cells within a new flat architecture.

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Alcatel Lucent - 5G is coming, are you prepared?

March 2015

Alcatel-Lucent is a leading IP networking, ultra-broadband access, and cloud technology specialist. Its access segment includes four business divisions: Wireless, Fixed Access, Licensing and Managed Services. In 2014 it was number four in the Total Wireless Radio Access Networks (RAN) with a twelve per cent revenue market share, number four in LTE with a 14 per cent revenue market share and also the small cell industry leader.

With the anticipated growth of Internet of Things (IoT) during the next few years, there will be more users, more devices and a more diverse range of device types than ever before. Additionally, other new services and applications will require reduced latency, improved reliability, longer battery life for devices and more consistent user bit rates. 4G LTE, with all its evolution, will not be enough to handle this new wave of heterogeneous data traffic. What is needed is 5G. Learn what is driving 5G, what 5G networks will look like, when it will be deployed and how you can prepare for 5G today.

Alcatel-Lucent proposes that a 5G network should be a federated network comprising two new configurable and flexible 5G radio access technologies and the existing LTE and WLAN access technologies. Mobile operators should be able to flexibly adapt this federated network to their users by programming–in their commercial "policies". There would be a new 5G low band radio access technology to provide reliable coverage. A suitable solution would be universally filtered OFDM that provides flexible guard space between symbols. The second 5G radio access technology for high band (spectrum above 20 GHz) would provide enormous capacity. A suitable technology would be scalable OFDM with broader sub-carrier spacing and shorter sub-frame timing. Both the low band and high band access technologies should have common upper layer procedures. The system would be designed to provide a connectionless service.

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Ericsson - 5G radio access – technologies and capabilities

February 2015

Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks it has supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world rely every day on networks that it manages. The company is the fifth largest software supplier in the world and ranked No 1 worldwide for OSS/BSS.

To enable connectivity for a wide range of new applications and use cases, the capabilities of 5G wireless access must extend far beyond previous generations of mobile communication. Examples of these capabilities include very high achievable data rates, very low latency, ultra-high reliability, and the possibility to handle extreme device densities, and will be realized by the continued development of LTE in combination with new radio-access technologies. Key technology components include extension to higher frequency bands, advanced multi-antenna transmission, lean design, user/control separation, flexible spectrum usage, complementary device-to-device communication, and backhaul/access integration.

Ericsson suggests that 5G wireless access will be realized by the evolution of LTE on existing spectrum in combination with new RAT on new spectrum above 6 GHz. Capabilities will include up to 10 Gb/s in nomadic locations, 100 Mb/s over urban/suburban areas and 10 Mb/s universally. 5G should allow an end-to-end latency under 1ms. Connectivity of the required characteristics must be always available with no deviation. Two network design concepts are stressed: separation of the user data from system control and ultra-lean design. Having the system control on an overlaid macro layer will allow a high degree of device centric optimisation of the other radio access links. Ultra-lean design minimizes any transmissions not directly related to the delivery of user data and will be important for dense deployments of network nodes for example enabling nodes to be put in standby where there is no traffic so as to improve energy efficiency. Other ideas include network controlled D2D (device to device) to extend coverage, mobile and backhaul using the same spectrum/technology and mobile operators allowing dynamic access to some of each other’s spectrum above 10 GHz.

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Nokia - Looking ahead to 5G building - a virtual zero latency gigabit experience


Nokia Networks is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nokia Corporation and is a world specialist in mobile broadband, helping mobile operators enable their end users to do more than ever before with the world’s most efficient mobile networks, the intelligence to maximise their value and the services to make it all work together. The company has a presence in around 120 countries.

The continuing growth in demand from subscribers for better mobile broadband experiences is encouraging the industry to look ahead at how networks can be readied to meet future extreme capacity and performance demands. Nokia, along with other industry partners, believes that communications beyond 2020 will involve a combination of existing and evolving systems, like LTE-Advanced and Wi-Fi, coupled with new, revolutionary technologies designed to meet new requirements, such as virtually zero latency to support tactile Internet, machine control or augmented reality.

Nokia gives its 5G vision as a scalable service experience anytime and everywhere and where people and machines obtain virtual zero latency and gigabit experience where it matters. It postulates three challenges: more spectrum, much denser networks and improving network performance. It has some specific ideas on spectrum, for example it flags the eventual use of 472-694 MHz for a rural mobile multimedia service. The band 3400-3800 MHz is identified for dense small cell deployments. The band 70-85 GHz band is seen as helping to cope with large volumes of small cell traffic. The small cell denser networks are identified  as the area where a new 5G optimised Radio Access Technology (RAT) will be needed to deliver peak rates exceeding 10 GB/s, user data rates over 100 Mb/s (even at the cell edge), ultra-low latency and more flexible duplexing. The main point on overall network performance is that 5G will be about tailoring the system to meet the specific performance requirements of extremely diverse use cases.

Everyone can foresee a gigantic capacity challenge for wireless networks over the coming decades. The research community is responding well by developing 5G technology in higher bands (eg mmWave) that will unlock huge data rates up to 10 Gb/s or more but its practical application will be limited to dense urban areas. This inevitably leads to a new coverage challenge being pulled behind this capacity challenge i.e, the coverage of higher speeds and capacity. Nowhere will this challenge be greater than in rural areas where it will be an economic struggle to significantly lift the capacity above the current 4G coverage prediction of 2 Mb/s. Yet in spite of such a glaring need there is scant attention being paid by the 5G research community to improving universal mobile coverage. This whitepaper is based on a brain-storming workshop on Rural 5G held at the 5GIC in 2015. The paper reviews a range of possible ways to improve rural coverage without regard to whether this needs new technology or just a more radical way of applying existing technology. This is in the spirit of the 5GIC’s vision of 5G being both a new technology and at the same time being the envelope within which all the technologies (new and existing) work together to deliver "always sufficient" resources to match users’ demands.

5G – The future of mobile communications – Rahim Tafazolli and Andy Sutton, ITP Journal

March 2015

The paper has the strap-line ‘Researching 5G to deliver the vision’. The authors’ vision in one sentence is "always sufficient rate to give users the perception of infinite capacity". The paper has a very wide ranging overview of the research that is going to be required and the role of the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) to deliver the vision.

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