As the world's researchers race to define 5G, it's clear that an increase in the spectral efficiency of a 4G network is not enough to deliver the step function in data rates, latency, and capacity needed for high-level 5G use cases.
So how do we begin to solve these complex challenges? The answer lies in prototypes and, more specifically, the kind of 5G prototypes that enable wireless researchers to test experimental ideas using real systems in real-world scenarios. When done right, these 5G prototypes can lay the foundation for rapidly increasing an organization's time-to-market schedule.
Setting a New Standard
Recognizing the large amount of speculation regarding 5G networks, the world's standardization bodies, including the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), have recently begun to transition concepts into reality. Not surprisingly, the vision painted in the International Mobile Telecommunications' goals for 2020 (IMT-2020), as well as by the Next generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) and the 3GPP, is expansive. 5G researchers now must build the framework that will redefine our very existence -- from automobiles and transportation systems to manufacturing, energy, healthcare monitoring, and more.
To do this, researchers are adopting new design approaches to help with the challenging task of defining, developing, and deploying 5G technologies within a random access network. Most acknowledge that conventional approaches to vetting 5G technologies take too long and incur significant costs. Therefore, building a prototype and a proof of concept earlier in the process enables faster commercialization. Noting the importance of research-enabling testbeds, National Science Foundation Program Director Thyaga Nandagopal, said, "A viable prototype is increasingly the critical element to determining success or failure of a particular concept."
Blazing a New Path Through Research
To expedite the time it takes to produce a working prototype, many researchers have adopted a platform-based design approach that embraces a unified design flow. It starts with