The telecoms industry is in danger of getting ahead of itself with regards to 5G, according to the chief technology officer of Japan's largest mobile carrier.
"Today, there are no contents of 5G but everyone talks about 5G, 5G, 5G," said NTT DOCOMO's Seizo Onoe.
IEEE Spectrum documents Onoe's recent keynote at the IEEE International Conference on Communications in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In the presentation, he sought to dispel some of the most pervasive myths about 5G, the first being that the technology will be deployed over so-called small cell networks.
Onoe claims that labelling 5G as a small cell or "hot spot" system could end up widening the digital divide, as it may not be so convenient to build in rural areas. He says the industry should keep an open mind to other technologies that could someday bring 5G to customers.
Intriguingly, Onoe also suggests that 5G will not require substantial investment, as the technology can be deployed largely on existing infrastructure. To make his point, Onoe said he expects capital expenditures for NTT DOCOMO to drop throughout 5G deployment, as was the case for earlier wireless generations.
Onoe also dispels the myth that 5G networks will quickly render 4G obsolete – not overnight, at least. He highlights how no wireless network has ever wholly replaced its predecessor, adding that there are plenty of cases where 4G networks will suffice.
On this note, Onoe asserts that carriers will find plenty of existing spectrum to support 5G, with more available through re-farming, or the recycling of that which is currently dedicated to other uses.
Finally, he makes the case that 5G should not be used to serve every possible need, whether it is autonomous driving, IoT, or mobile broadband service. Onoe says this is what he finds most frustrating, stressing it is too early for the industry to tout 5G as the path to so many potential futures.