5Qs on 5G: With DNA

Tommy Olenius, vice-President of Technology at DNA

Helsinki-based telecommunications company DNA is the latest in a line of operators to talk to Inside5G about how it is approaching 5G networks. Despite the Nordic countries seemingly taking a leading role in Europe, Tommy Olenius, vice-President of Technology at DNA, argues that there in no rush towards the next-generation.

Can you describe how you are approaching the subject of 5G?

There is no rush to 5G as the 4G network is still under construction , and therefore we are still in research mode regarding 5G. Our main network development focus is remaining on 4G as it further evolves as the explosive growth in mobile data volumes continues during the coming years in Finland.

In time, 5G will be implemented based on new service and application requirements – the main network issue is a more stable and guaranteed customer experience.

“4G will be the major nationwide network technology in Finland for the coming 10 years”

The evolving 4G will be the major nationwide network technology in Finland for the coming 10 years. Mobile core and acces network, as well as IP-transmission-networks, will evolve towards NFV-SDN as the life cycle of existing technology is reaching its end.

The main driver for this is cost efficiency, which is required in order to keep production cost reasonable in spite of extremely high data volumes. All in all, we currently see 5G as an evolution that will complement 4G in the next decade.

Collaboration on different levels are existing with network vendors, universities and research consortiums with different service providers. New business opportunities will be found through the new technologies and services and therefore it is important to be part of this development.

What are your likely timescales in terms of investment?

“For challenger operators, the main focus is put on the service-layer development”

We are following the path of the major vendors in a research mode. 5G network technology development is mainly in the hands of the major network vendors. For challenger operators, the main focus is put on the service-layer development, which is a continuous program following the possibilities provided by the network standards and technology.

5G network deployment on a commercial scale will take place in beginning of the next decade. Like any other implementation of new generation mobile networks, the availability of required frequencies will be crucial. In the beginning, only higher frequency bands will be available and therefore implementation will start in the most crowded urban areas.

What are the main challenges for 5G?

The new standards must be future proof, backward compatible with 4G/3G and have global support. Hopefully all ambitious goals can be reached as there are many interest groups working on the standards.

“it’s mandatory to find cost efficient ways to deploy and operate the new technology”

Development wise, it’s interesting to see how well simultaneous support of high speed, low latency and high number of users can actually be implemented. Deployment wise, the biggest challenges are expected to come from the fact that higher frequency bands than today must be used, due to the shortage. This will lead to smaller cell size and a bigger number of base-station locations. Thus, it’s mandatory to find cost efficient ways to deploy and operate the new technology.

Can one network meet the needs of all potential use cases?

“all … requirements should be possible over the same air-interface”

The main service drivers for 5G are the new requirements like digitalisation, smart traffic solutions and IoT, but also the same old requirements for more capacity, higher throughput and shorter latency will remain in 5G. All these requirements should be possible over the same air-interface, if 5G is to become the success story of the next decade.

Is there any 5G technology which you think is of particular interest?

It’s too early to comment on 5G technologies as the standards are not agreed upon yet. From the end users’s (and the operator’s) perspective, the three most interesting standardisation goals are tenfold maximum data speed and 1/50 latency compared to 4G, as well as the capability to accommodate exponential growth of connected devices.

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