IEEE's 5G and Beyond Roadmap Provides Details About the New Communication Network

White paper identifies needs, challenges, and solutions

4 February 2019

Many are predicting that 5G will be this year’s hot technology. But people are still unclear about what the new communication network is and how it will benefit them. This article should help clear up some confusion.

There’s been a lot of news media coverage in recent weeks about 5G. During a panel discussion held at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show, telecom representatives talked about how the next generation wireless will enable the future. They predicted that 5G devices will be available by 2020.

But before you see them on store shelves, a lot of issues need to be resolved by manufacturers, network operators, and service providers, among others.

The IEEE 5G Initiative recently released its “5G and Beyond Technology Roadmap” white paper to set the stage for collaboration to assess the current state of the industry and identify the elements that address near- and long-term needs, challenges, and solutions.

The 39-page white paper includes a preview of future applications, key trends, design challenges, and technology enablers that multiple road map teams will assess further.

The mission of the road map’s nine working groups was to identify short- (three years), mid- (five years) and long-term (10 years) research, innovation, and technology trends in the communications ecosystem. Collectively, the IEEE 5G and Beyond Technology Roadmap group believes that, with widespread participation from industry experts, the process outlined in the white paper can reduce some of the technical and engineering risk associated with the migration to 5G and future technologies, according to IEEE Member Mischa Dohler, cochair of the road map’s working group.

Related: Special Report: 5G


The white paper outlines the current telecommunications value chain that will need to adapt to changes and opportunities that 5G and future technologies will bring. It describes key technology trends that are likely to impact design drivers as well as challenges for technologies to simultaneously provide wireless communication, massive connectivity, the tactile Internet, quality of service, and network slicing.

The white paper highlights technology enablers that need to be explored in the creation of the road map. The future applications included in the process this year include immersive gaming and media for entertainment, remote diagnosis and intervention for health care, and intelligent navigation and transportation systems for autonomous cars.

The white paper also foresees new applications for existing technologies. Unmanned autonomous vehicles will deliver products and perform surveillance, disaster relief, and other duties because the use of 5G networks for UAVs will enable complex flight operations that are safe—avoiding collisions with buildings, airplanes, and each other. Artificial intelligence will be the key driver for self-optimizing networks that will allow 5G networks to respond to congestion, failures, and spikes in traffic.

The technology enablers in the white paper include building blocks—such as millimeter wave (mmWave) technologies and massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antenna systems—that will be further explored during the road map process. Although existing mmWave technologies such as transmitters, receivers, and antennas can come close to the transmission efficiency below 6 gigahertz, that is not enough to support the greatly increased data rates 5G will need, according to the white paper.

Massive MIMO systems use hundreds, if not thousands, of antennas. These large-scale antennas have been proposed to serve multiple users in the same time frequency. Although many researchers have studied massive MIMO techniques, challenges remain regarding how to apply them in high-speed scenarios and how to achieve a low complexity yet accurate channel estimation and detection.

In a news release, Dohler says “5G consolidates the trend in convergence of technologies and underlying standards, with emerging solutions offering exciting possibilities not only to consumers but also to industries. Disruption will happen at many levels, most importantly through changes in the value chain, adoption of flexible systems management and orchestration, as well as emergence of innovative mobile connectivity technologies.”

You can download the document for free.


The white paper also summarizes the need for collaboration among stakeholders in industry, academia, and standards development organizations.

The 5G Initiative would like those involved with the next generation of wireless to collaborate with it to reach consensus, Member Timothy Lee, the initiative’s cochair, said in the release.

The outcome of the collaboration will be a live document with a clear set of recommendations that will be updated annually, and developed in conjunction with other 5G working groups.

“We are making this call not just for the purposes of advancing technology or furthering economic pursuits,” Lee says, “but to anticipate and plan for sustainability and the social implications to those currently connected and those to be connected.” Widespread participation in the road map process can greatly reduce some of the technical and engineering risks, he adds.

The road map topics to be addressed include standardization building blocks, mmWave, hardware, massive MIMO, applications and services, security, edge automation platform, satellite, and test bed.

Working group teams are mobilizing now. If you’d like to get involved, send a message to

IEEE is scheduled to hold its first 5G World Forum from 9 to 11 July, in Santa Clara, Calif.

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