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

Number of transistors

100000000

10000000 Pentium 486 386 286 8086 Double every 24 months

1000000

100000

10000

1000
19 71 19 73 19 75 19 77 19 79 19 81 19 83 19 85 19 87 19 89 19 91 19 93 19 95 19 97 19 99 20 01 20 03

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
000,000,000 100,000,000,000,00 10 Billion Trillion 0,000,000 1,000,000,000,000,0 00,000 10,000,000,000,000, 10,000 Trillion 000 100,000,000,000,00
100 Trillion 1 Million Trillion

0 1 Trillion 1,000,000,000,000
10 Billion 10,000,000,000 100 Million 100,000,000 1 Million 1,000,000 10,000 10,000 100 100

Increase in Efficiency of Wireless Spectrum

1,000,000,000,000,0 00,000,000,000 10,000,000,000,000,

• 15 times by using more spectrum
(3 GHz vs. 150 MHz) • 5 times from better voice coding • 5 times from better MAC and modulation methods • 2,700 times from smaller cells

Spatial Processing Era Cellular Era

• Total gain 1million-fold
2050 2100

1 1 1900 Logarithmic Scale

1950
Year

2000

Source: Arraycom
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Technologies and where they take us

10km

2G 3G

1km

Physics, economics and spectrum allocation make entry into this space difficult
WiMax / HSDPA

Source: Webb
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Range (km)

100m ZigBee
802.15.4

Wi-Fi
802.11

10m

Bluetooth
802.15.1

ADSL rate

UWB
802.15.3

0.01

0.1

1 10 Data rate (Mbits/s)

100

1000
8

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 anywhere on any device, make video calls

Environment
Monitor and control home and local environment

Location
A range of appropriate services

Interwork devices
Synchronise devices and allow one to make use of resources in another nearby (eg large screen)

Personal applications
A wide range of specialist applications such as a mealsuggestion service

Transport
Route guidance, travel information, payment, etc

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The winners and losers
Winners
• Handsets. These will become ever more advanced. As • • • • •
a result they will be higher price, sold in large volumes and changed frequently. Home networks. These will require substantial memory and processing power and multiple means of interconnection. Contextually aware software. This will provide the intelligence to allow handsets to predict user requirements. Network software providing convergence. Complex software will be needed in the network to ensure that the user is kept connected in the best manner possible. User applications. We expect there to be many valuable applications written for wireless networks. Service provisioning. Service providers will enables multiple different communications channels and generally keeps a users communications environment “working”.

Losers
• SDR. We believe that multi-modal • • •
phones will be cheaper and just as effective. Cognitive radio. We note a number of difficulties and cannot see any convincing application. Smart or MIMO antennas. As cells get smaller, the benefits of these fall while the cost per user increases. Fixed wireless access. We believe wired technologies will continue to be cheaper and offer higher data rates in all but a few niche applications. 4G. We do not see the need for a completely new generation, nor the “space” where it will provide distinct advantages.

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

“Remote control on life” widely available in developed countries

2005

2010

2015

2020

Broadband connections to the home proliferate

Handset manages daily life 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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