4. Beyond 4G - FRA and Edge Nodes
The Long Term Evolution, LTE or 4G, is already in the past. True, there are still many area not covered, a few will never be covered (probably), but from a biz and engineering point of view the situation is clear. It improved on 3G in terms of capacity (better usage of spectrum bit not that much better) it provided a weak biz proposition for a premium charge (not really successful) and it pushed further the envelope towards all you can eat data services. It will still take some time (depending on the geographical area) but the flat rate concept is now reality also in the wireless domain, both voice and data, and it probably came sooner than most people expected.
In Italy we have seen that the all-you-can-eat in the wireless data area is somewhat restricted but mostly in terms of speed -if you exceed a certain thresholds, 1/2/4 GB, the access speed is lowered (in the fixed one is not restricted in any way). This on the Operators side is done to push users to go for higher price point to get better service but I am not sure if it is actually working. What is happening is that people are getting more and more use to data connectivity, for any kind of services and this increases the culture on “data networking” preparing the road to 5G.
5G will have a better Radio Access (FRA- Future Radio Access) and will rely much more on the terminal than on the network.
Indeed the terminal will have the capability of selecting the access for any particular service both in the up and down link, depending on what it is available in that ambient. A smart phone may send up a request for information (uplink) using a Telecom Operator Network and once notified of the presence of information in a nearby cash on a local network it has access to can switch, within the same transaction to download what needed, may be continuing the uplink conversation through the Telecom Operator access point.
A very common situation will be the one where one is engaged in a conversation with a friend and then a sharing of files (like photos) is needed. That might well take place using a completely different gateway and be managed at the edges by the terminal, without the Telecom Operator being aware of what is going on.
Edge Nodes can become information repository and can be pre-warned of the likely presence, in the next five minutes, of a terminal/person with specific information/service needs. The Edge Node will then prepare to be able to deliver the expected services locally and might create a SDNetworking to accomodate the needs of that terminal/person.
Clearly the ball moves from the Telecom Operator to the Terminal and Service Provider.