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Wireless

Communications:
The Future

Professor William Webb

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Contents

• Some history
• The basis for prediction

• The prediction

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Predictions made in 2000 for 2005 proved
accurate
• We predicted that
not much would
happen, and not
much did!
• But the time has
come for a
“refresh” to take
new developments
into account and
broaden the
contributor base

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Contents

• Some history
• The basis for prediction

• The prediction

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A hard look at the current industry position

• There will not be a new “4th generation” of cellular since 3G reaches the limits of what is
possible in a radio channel

• Fixed wireless access will not succeed – even with the advent of WiMax technology

• W-LAN in the home will provide the basis for convergence between home and cellular
systems

• The current vertically integrated approach where operators own networks and provide
customer facing services is not sustainable in the long term
– but will persist for many years and in doing so will slow convergence.

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An understanding of adoption rates

• Services take between five and ten years to be adopted even if the service is “perfect”

• Spending on communications can only grow slowly.

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Moore’s Law
10000000000

1000000000
Double every 18
months Itanium
100000000
Number of transistors

10000000

Pentium
1000000
486
386
100000
286 Double every 24
months
10000 8086

1000
71

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A note of caution – Moore’s Law does not directly provide more wireless capacity and power
requirements increase with the number of transistors but batteries don’t improve that fast
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Cooper’s Law – wireless voice traffic doubles every 30
months

Gains 1950 – 2000
Cooper’s Law
1,000,000,000,000,0 • 15 times by using more spectrum
00,000,000,000
(3 GHz vs. 150 MHz)
Increase in Efficiency of Wireless Spectrum

10,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000
100,000,000,000,00
10 Billion Trillion
0,000,000
1,000,000,000,000,0
• 5 times from better voice coding
• 5 times from better MAC and
1 Million Trillion
00,000
10,000,000,000,000,
10,000 Trillion
000
100,000,000,000,00
0
100 Trillion modulation methods
Spatial
1 Trillion
1,000,000,000,000
10 Billion
10,000,000,000
Processing Era • 2,700 times from smaller cells
100 Million
100,000,000
Cellular Era
1 Million
1,000,000
10,000
• Total gain 1million-fold
10,000
100
100
1
1
1900 1950 2000 2050 2100
Logarithmic Scale Year

Source: Arraycom

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Technologies and where they take us

10km 2G Physics, economics and
spectrum allocation
3G make entry into this
1km space difficult
Range (km)

WiMax /
HSDPA

100m Wi-Fi
802.11
ZigBee
802.15.4 UWB
Bluetooth ADSL
10m 802.15.1 802.15.3
rate

0.01 0.1 1 10 100 1000
Source: Webb
Data rate (Mbits/s)
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Contents

• Some history
• The basis for prediction

• The prediction

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A prediction of some possible new services

Video
Download and view video Environment
anywhere on any device, make Monitor and control home and
video calls local environment

Location Interwork devices
A range of appropriate services Synchronise devices and allow
one to make use of resources in
another nearby (eg large screen)

Personal applications
A wide range of specialist Transport
applications such as a meal- Route guidance, travel
suggestion service information, payment, etc

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The winners and losers
Winners Losers
• Handsets. These will become ever more advanced. As • SDR. We believe that multi-modal
a result they will be higher price, sold in large volumes phones will be cheaper and just as
and changed frequently. effective.
• Home networks. These will require substantial memory • Cognitive radio. We note a number
and processing power and multiple means of of difficulties and cannot see any
interconnection. convincing application.
• Contextually aware software. This will provide the • Smart or MIMO antennas. As cells
intelligence to allow handsets to predict user get smaller, the benefits of these fall
requirements. while the cost per user increases.
• Network software providing convergence. Complex • Fixed wireless access. We believe
software will be needed in the network to ensure that wired technologies will continue to
the user is kept connected in the best manner possible. be cheaper and offer higher data
• User applications. We expect there to be many rates in all but a few niche
valuable applications written for wireless networks. applications.
• Service provisioning. Service providers will enables • 4G. We do not see the need for a
multiple different communications channels and completely new generation, nor the
generally keeps a users communications environment “space” where it will provide distinct
“working”. advantages.

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Services will gradually evolve, becoming fully available
between 2015 and 2020 “Remote control on life”
Personalisation, available to wealthy in
reformatting and developed countries
Offices and homes message filtering
deploy W-LAN
systems Home appliances add “Remote control on life”
wireless widely available in
Communicators developed countries
become multi-modal

2005 2010 2015 2020
Handset manages daily
life
Broadband connections to
the home proliferate
Mobile TV and intelligent
PVRs assemble viewing

Speech recognition
and other user
interface advances

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In conclusion

• The user experience based on wireless communications is likely to change dramatically
over the next 10 – 20 years as the handset becomes a “remote control on life”

• This will not require much change in technology, although mesh networks, UWB, better
user interfaces and enhanced backhaul will all help

• Services will grow rapidly on the back of increasingly ubiquitous and standardised
wireless connectivity

• A flexible spectrum allocation policy will allow networks to grow in reaction to the new
services and for new technologies to be rapidly deployed

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Contact details

• william.webb@ofcom.org.uk
• +44 20 7981 3770

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