The mobile phone industry has made amazing things happen in the past dozen years. The hectic
pace of development has had a backward-looking perspective when we try to describe, in a
quantized way, the progress made since the analog phone days. We just need a sexier and less
confusing way to describe the progress.
When the 8086 processor was built (ca 1976) it launched the most successful line of
microprocessors for Intel, driving the x86 architecture and the development of the 80286, '386,
and '486 variants. The naming scheme could have continued forever, I guess, but the guys in
Silicon valley, instead of calling the next revision the "80586" processor, corrupted the
Greek 'pente-' for five into the "Pentium." They were forced to brand the chip with a name after
the US Patent and Trademark office ruled that a series of numbers could not be trademarked.
Now, the microprocessor's latest version is the Pentium 3561Y, which hums along at a crisp 1.2GHz (not the fastest clock speed in the
family, which boasts devices that rocket along at over 3GHz).
The Telecoms evolution needs a cool name, too. Thus far, we refer to various "Generations" of
mobile phones and refer to them as 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G. In breaking with the 1-2-3-4 sequence, I
think, the industry adopted the notional description of "Long Term Evolution" as the next step.
Kind of hazy and kind of non-committal to step-change development that is inferred by
generation. If that weren't enough, LTE, under 3GPP Release 10, is known as LTE-Advanced. It's
sort of like bolting a set of wings on a unicorn.
But the G string, so to speak, isn't broken, and I've seen events such as this one being
organized: Unveiling 5G Wireless
Networks: Emerging Research Advances, Prospects and
Challenges. So, it's not really clear whether LTE is 5G in a different wrapper.
Whatever the nomenclature, the "promise" of the technology is stupendous -- if not a little
stupefying -- to contemplate with technical goodies and functionality like this being baked:
- Cloud computing and virtualization
- Network architectures
- System design for supporting multi-spectrum, multi-RAT (Radio Access Technology),
- Spectrum sharing between M2M (Machine to Machine) and LTE-A in 5G wireless
- Green communications, cloud and software defined radio (SDR) technologies for radio
access network in 5G
- QoS (Quality of Service) and QoE (Quality of Experience) improvement in 5G wireless
- SDN-based new evolution of 3GPP standards for 5G wireless networks
- Mobile social networking over 5G wireless networks
What this says to me is that the mobile infrastructure will be as much about computing, storage, data processing, and testing as about
communications. It's gonna be a real gas, we just need a better,
hipper, way to describe it. Maybe someone from Generation X will coin a better term. What would you suggest for a new term to describe