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Will 5G say farewell to OFDM?
At last month’s Mobile World Congress it was good to see a few demonstrations of 5G air interface technologies. As is typical in this phase of R&D, these demos were limited to big boxes with a science project feel. At one such demo at the Intel booth a characteristic oscilloscope rendering of an OFDM waveform begged the question what role will OFDM play in 5G? What waveform will define 5G? Even, will 5G say a farewell to OFDM?While a definitive answer is not agreed yet, there is no doubt that the journey of insights to one conclusion or another has already started. The first insights are already coming from the three key 5G use cases being tackled by 3GPP, namely, enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC), and ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC). Each of these scenarios puts the priority on certain Key Performance Indicators (KPI), for example, increased network capacity and higher peak data rate for eMBB, connection density and energy efficiency for mMTC, and high reliability and low latency for URLLC. Put together, it is fairly obvious that these use cases and their KPIs result in a wide set of challenging requirements that the 5G air interface design will have to cope with.
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