New Delhi: The much-anticipated fifth generation (5G) networks are expected to roll out across the world by 2020, and are expected to offer faster speeds and more reliable connections, thus powering Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Some estimates peg 5G data rates to reach a peak of 20Gbps (gigabits per second).

However, as telecom operators (telcos) in countries like the US, Japan, South Korea and China are largely driving the first 5G rollouts, spectrum sharing will be on of the key elements helping them make the shift. Spectrum sharing is a technology that allows superimposition of 5G carrier waves atop existing long-term evolution (LTE), or 4G. This is important for a country like India that is currently riding the 4G wave and is expected to adopt 5G in the next 2-3 years.

Spectrum sharing can dynamically allocate the right bands to users based on their requirements, David Hammerwall said. For instance, if a 4G and 5G user connects to a network simultaneously, each will be allocated the right spectrum. Hammerwall said Ericsson’s technology works on all LTE bands because the firm thinks those are the “most relevant".

In theory, spectrum sharing allows companies an easier way to shift from their current LTE-capable (4G) networks to 5G. In the move to 5G, cash-strapped Indian telcos will have to deal with the fact that they already have vast legacy networks deployed, which is a challenge.

“A homogenous network is an idea. But a legacy operator has to add new technology on top of existing technologies," said T.V. Ramachandran, president of Broadband India Forum. However, Ramachandran also pointed out that challenges will present themselves. If the 4G network is 5G ready, then spectrum sharing can really help, he said. But for legacy networks—2G and 3G—there will still be a challenge.

According to Hammerwall, in the future LTE will bear the brunt of user traffic, while 2G remains for legacy voice traffic. He believes that 3G will die.

Close