What Comes After 4G? METIS Plans To Find Out

We’ve barely even got the ball rolling with 4G mobile networks, and already people are beginning to wonder what might come afterwards.

To hazard a guess at what “5G” might look like, the European Commission has just doled out a $21 million grant to bring together a consortium of telecommunications companies that will study the feasibility of next-generation concepts like virtualized radio networks in the cloud and super-dense networks of tiny cells located in every room.

GigaOM reports that the newly formed Mobile and wireless communications Enablers for the Twenty-twenty Information Society, or METIS to keep things simple, has been tasked with studying a wide range of 5G technologies, including new cellular architectures like wide-area mobile mesh and heterogeneous networks, new radio-air interfaces and network virtualization.

Many of these new ideas are still at the theoretical stage, and so no-one can be sure whether they will ever become feasible from a technical or commercial viewpoint. Experts have theorized what the network capabilities need to be, but as for how they will be met, that remains anyone’s guess.

In order to figure all of this out, METIS will be pursuing multiple lines of investigation, borrowing from current research being done at institutions like Poznan University of Technology in Poland, and Aalborg University in Denmark.

Given the daunting nature of the task, it’s not only the major carriers that are involved. While the likes of Nokia, Telefonica, Alcatel and Lucent are all taking part, METIS is looking beyond the telecommunications industry, inviting businesses such as BMW to get involved as well. The German automobile firm will be helping to investigate a far-out concept known as vehicle-to-vehicle networking, which envisages cars becoming nodes within a much larger network.

As well as these new concepts, METIS also plans to study the possibilities of moving baseband processing to the cloud, in order to boost network efficiency. Another idea it will look at is the creation of a giant mesh made up of devices interacting with each other, rather than with a central tower.

METIS is expected to report its final recommendations for 5G within the next three years.

About Mike Wheatley

Mike Wheatley is a senior staff writer at SiliconANGLE. He loves to write about Big Data and the Internet of Things, and explore how these technologies are evolving within the enterprise and helping businesses to become more agile. Before joining SiliconANGLE, Mike was an editor at Argophilia Travel News, an occassional contributer to The Epoch Times, and has also dabbled in SEO and social media marketing. He usually bases himself in Bangkok, Thailand, though he can often be found roaming through the jungles or chilling on a beach. Got a news story or tip? Email Mike@SiliconANGLE.com.