Economy, Business And Markets

Time to Develop 5G or Improve 3G, 4G?

Time to Develop 5G or Improve 3G, 4G?Time to Develop 5G or Improve 3G, 4G?

The ministry of communications and information technology is reportedly planning to launch 5G services in the next six months, while mobile operators have only recently been authorized by the ministry to upgrade their services to third and then fourth generation of mobile networks.

The ICT Research Institute, affiliated to the ministry, is preparing the grounds for applying ‘Big Data’ in Iran, the economic Persian daily Forsat-e Emrooz reported, citing Mohammad Khansari, head of the institute.

Before embracing any new technology however, top policy makers have to inspect the required services, standards, and equipment for the technology, Khansari said, moving on to related education, research, and promotion to the emerging technology in the next phase.

Last but not least, the government has adopted an approach towards developing and indigenizing the new technologies, he noted, adding that the ICT Research Institute also conducts foresight and future studies on new technologies.

“The ministry has arranged numerous conferences to enhance public awareness of Big Data,” he added. Big data is large volume unstructured data which cannot be handled by standard database management systems.

Pointing to a conference on Big Data held in June 2014 in Tehran, he said Big Data can create ample opportunities for Iran “by facilitating the analysis of huge amounts of unstructured data in a bid to foresee and optimize the future.”

Up to early 2000s, the data was mostly structured, said the official. As it reads from its name, structured data refers to information with a high degree of organization, such that inclusion in a relational database is seamless and readily searchable by simple, straightforward search engine algorithms or other search operations.

However, global spread of the Internet gave rise to huge amounts of unstructured data, mostly produced by social media and blogs, among other things, noted the official.

Big Data market is said to touch $25 billion in 2015, of which the contribution of Iran, as one of the data producers need to be determined, said Khansari.

 Too Early

The ministry’s measure to offer 5G services has raised concerns among experts, who believe “it might be a step too far by mobile operators.”

Experts warn that the ministry should not take a hasty action, as “the newly launched 3G and 4G services have not yet reached all parts of the country.”

Besides, a lot of developed countries that are pioneers in offering up-to-date technologies are still using 4G services, experts say.

“South Korea and Japan has set targets to launch 5G services in the occasions of Olympic Winter Games, respectively in 2018 and 2022,” Hamid Pajouhesh, an expert in communication networks told Forsat-e Emrooz. He added that the European Commission has also allocated $900 million to research about 5G before launching the service.

These are all indications of the fact that governments are competing for accessing standardization at macro level before taking any measures to offer 5G services.

 Costs Estimation

Unless modern operators and hardware replace the current ones -- which seems unlikely due to high costs – it is too early for Iranian operators to offer 5G services to subscribers, said Pajouhesh.

About the 5G-related devices and infrastructure equipment he said “as mobile networks makes use of airwaves rather than network cables, not much fundamental equipment will need to be upgraded,” he said, concluding that the operation and maintenance costs would significantly reduce.

Nevertheless, he added, mobile and tablet manufacturing companies do not yet support 5G services on their produced devices, showing that the public might still be far away from getting access to the service, even in case the operators manage to offer it.

 Evolution of Mobile Tech

In the 1970s, the First Generation, or 1G, mobile networks were introduced. The systems were referred to as cellular. In the early 1990s, 2G phones deploying GSM technology were introduced. Global System for Mobile communications or GSM uses digital modulation to improve voice quality but the network offers limited data service.

The 3G revolution allowed mobile telephone customers to use audio, graphics, and video applications. Over 3G it is possible to watch streaming video and engage in video telephony, although such activities are severely constrained by network bottlenecks and over-usage.

The current generation of mobile telephony across the world, 4G has been developed with the aim of providing transmission rates up to 20 Mbps while simultaneously accommodating Quality of Service (QoS) features.

Typically, the global experience with offering new generation of mobile services was like that new generations were introduced and developed in 10 year intervals, said the expert.

Thus, it might be better for domestic operators to improve their current services rather than rushing into offering higher versions, concluded the report.