Peter Curwen (Independent Scholar, UK)
Jason Whalley (Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, UK)

Understanding 5G Mobile Networks

ISBN: 978-1-80071-037-5, eISBN: 978-1-80071-036-8

Publication date: 8 March 2021


Curwen, P. and Whalley, J. (2021), "Prelims", Understanding 5G Mobile Networks, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. i-xxi.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited

Half Title Page

Understanding 5G Mobile Networks

Title Page

Understanding 5G Mobile Networks: A Multidisciplinary Primer

Peter Curwen

Independent Scholar, UK

Jason Whalley

Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, UK

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

Copyright Page

Emerald Publishing Limited

Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK

First edition 2021

Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved

Reprints and permissions service


No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. Any opinions expressed in the chapters are those of the authors. Whilst Emerald makes every effort to ensure the quality and accuracy of its content, Emerald makes no representation implied or otherwise, as to the chapters' suitability and application and disclaims any warranties, express or implied, to their use.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-80071-037-5 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-80071-036-8 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-80071-038-2 (Epub)


This book is dedicated to Hilary Curwen who has endured much shouting at the computer

List of Tables

Chapter 1
Table 1.1. LTE Network Launches by Region: Nationwide Incumbent Terrestrial Networks.
Table 1.2. Network Sharing Methodology.
Chapter 4
Table 4.1. Spectrum Auctions of 5G-Suitable Bands across Europe, August 31, 2020.
Table 4.2. Auction Results. Germany. June 2019.
Table 4.3. Auction Results. Italy. September 2018.
Table 4.4. Auction Results. Netherlands. July 2020.
Table 4.5. Illustrative Results of Sales of Spectrum with Potential 4G Usage.
Table 4.6. Illustrative Results of Sales of Spectrum with Potential 5G Usage.
Chapter 5
Table 5.1. Selected FCC Auctions That Involve Spectrum of Potential Use for the Provision of 5G.
Table 5.2. Spectrum Auctions of 5G Suitable Bands Excluding Mainland USA
Chapter 6
Table 6.1. 5G Launches as of End-August 2020.

List of Abbreviations


Second generation


Third generation


Third Generation Partnership Project


Fourth generation


Fifth generation


Sixth generation


Asia-Pacific Telecommunity


Advanced Wireless Research Initiative


Broadband Radio Services


Carrier aggregation


China Broadcasting Network


Citizens Broadband Radio Service


Cellular IoT


Co-ordinated multi point


Digital Communications Commission


Distributed MIMO


Dynamic spectrum sharing




Educational Broadband Service


Extended coverage GSM IoT


Enhanced inter-cell interference coordination


Enhanced machine type communications


European Union


Frequency division duplex


Fibre to the premises


Fixed-wireless access


Gigabits per second


Global System for Mobile Communications


Global Mobile Suppliers Association


High-speed packet access


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers


Industrial Internet of Things


International Mobile Telecommunication


Internet of Things


International Telecommunication Union


Licence-assisted access


Listen before talk


LoRa wide-area network


Low-power wide-area network


Licensed shared access


Long term evolution


Long term evolution-Advanced


Long term evolution-Advanced Pro


LTE in unlicensed spectrum


Megabits per second


Multi-access edge computing


Multiple input Multiple output


Millimetre wave


Massive machine type communications


Multi-operator core network


Multi-operator radio access network


Machine type communications


Multi-user MIMO


Mobile virtual network enabler


Mobile virtual network operator




Narrowband IoT


Narrowband LTE


Network function virtualisation


New radio


Non-standalone access


Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing


Priority access licence


Partial economic area


Quadrature amplitude moderation


Radio access network


Radio access technology


Radio Spectrum Policy Group


Standalone access


Software-defined infrastructure


Supplementary downlink


Software-defined networking


Standards essential patent


Subscriber identity module


State Commission for Radio Frequencies


Time division duplex


Technical Forum


Telecom Regulatory Authority of India


Ultra mobile broadband


Upper microwave flexible use service


Universal mobile telecommunications system


Ultra-reliable and low latency communications


Vodafone Hutchison Australia


Wide-band code division multiple access


Wi-Fi Alliance


Wireless Fidelity


Wholesale open-access network


World Radiocommunication Conference

List of Key Terms








About the Authors

Peter Curwen joined Sheffield Hallam University in 1970. He took early retirement in 2002 having risen to the position of Professor of Economics. Having switched his research interests from privatisation to telecommunications pre-retirement, he took up the post of Visiting Professor of Mobile Communications, first at Strathclyde University and subsequently at the Newcastle Business School, departing in 2017 to become a ‘gentleman scholar’.

Jason Whalley joined Newcastle Business School in 2013 as Professor of Digital Economy, after a brief period as a consultant followed by more than a decade spent at Strathclyde University. His research focuses on the telecommunications industry, both fixed-wire and mobile. He has published extensively on the development of broadband markets, the Internet of Things and the use of ICT in the Himalayas.


This book began life as a 5G database, compiled as a companion for those that had previously been compiled for both 3G and 4G and which had each evolved into a book (Curwen, 2002; Curwen & Whalley, 2013). However, in this case, the original idea had been to publish the 5G database in two separate articles covering country case studies because the need to analyse the technological aspects of 5G – far more extensive and complicated than those that needed to be explored and explained for 3G and 4G – appeared to be too problematic to combine with the country studies while restricting the content to the wordage permitted for articles.

In the event, it proved very frustrating to get the articles into print, especially as the country studies grew rapidly as time passed, so the decision was taken to investigate whether it would be practical to expand what had already been written into book form along the lines of Curwen and Whalley (2013). To achieve this, it would be necessary to add two other aspects of 5G to the existing country studies; firstly, a review of everything that had already been published about 5G and, secondly, a chapter (or two) exploring the technical underpinnings of 5G.

It rapidly became clear that whereas a number of highly technical books about 5G were already available – see, for example, Dahlman, Parkvall, and Skold (2020) and Osseiran et al. (2016) – these could only be properly understood by a reader with a scientific/engineering background. The other publications produced by non-academic sources consisted almost entirely of reports, some covering technical matters in reasonable detail, some concentrating upon country studies and some covering both but not in much detail. The only exception appeared to be Webb (2016) which was essentially polemical in nature.

So far as the academic literature was concerned, this tended to be fairly technical and often concerned with forecasting how 5G would affect things in the future – see Chapter 3. Given that 5G standards had yet to be fully agreed, this was a speculative activity at best.

What accordingly appeared to be wholly absent was any form of book that addressed the needs of non-specialist readers who nevertheless sought an insight into 5G either for professional reasons because they were studying telecommunications or were simply interested in something that they had been told would transform their lives.

In essence, compiling the country studies has been relatively straightforward, albeit time-consuming because there is always some disagreement between different sources as to matters such as dates that needs to be resolved. The main problem has been how to deal with the technology. As noted in Chapter 1, 5G is part of a technological progression from 1G to 5G, and hence 5G cannot be treated independently of what has gone before. However, that essentially applies to so-called ‘Non-Standalone’ 5G which builds upon and coexists with the fourth generation of technology known as long term evolution (LTE). It is much less applicable to the independent strand of 5G which is commonly known as ‘Standalone’ – the distinction is clarified in Chapter 2.

For this reason, it became apparent to the authors that an initial understanding of 5G necessitated a prior understanding of LTE. Hence, a chapter would need to be devoted to explaining the development of LTE which was itself highly sophisticated – the modern smartphone that operates over LTE networks is to all intents and purposes a powerful mini-computer capable of processing data that has been downloaded at tens of megabits per second. A further chapter would then have to be added to cover the technological advances made during the past decade that have developed mobile technology well beyond the specifications of LTE and which underpin Standalone 5G.

This is not a straightforward matter because, as is evident from the above, there are two processes going on simultaneously. The first – which is what concerns the proverbial (wo)man on the omnibus – is essentially concerned with speeding up LTE in a world increasingly dominated by the need to download video (and to play sophisticated games). What (s)he wants is that massive video files, perhaps in the form of films, become downloadable within seconds rather than minutes without consuming too much of the data allowed within a standard mobile contract.

However, this process involves human participation whereas what is increasingly needed is to improve machine-to-machine (M2M) communication via what is generally known as the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is expected to connect up tens of billions of ‘things’, but without using the same transmission methods as those involving humans – for a start, there is nothing like enough licensed spectrum to meet the demands associated with the IoT. This means that new spectrum bands need to be exploited, largely in the absence of licences, and new technologies introduced to make this happen efficiently and economically.

For the purposes of this book, the major issue was not simply to introduce all of the relevant technology in a manner that would be understandable to readers, but to present it in a sensible sequence. The underlying principle has been that where the authors, who are not engineers, consider that they fully understand the basic principles underlying the technology it is presented as they understand it having checked multiple sources to avoid obvious errors. Anything that cannot be explained adequately in terms comprehensible to a non-engineer is outlined and extensively referenced, so readers can delve deeper if they wish.

The sequencing of material has been extremely problematic if only because the technology has not appeared in a series of finite steps. Rather, a substantial number of strands have developed over a lengthy period with multiple overlaps. The sequencing has been adjusted on numerous occasions during the drafting process, but it has to be admitted that there simply is no ideal way to do this.

So far as the country studies are concerned, the underlying principle has been to concentrate upon licence awards and launches. There are obviously large numbers of ongoing 5G trials at any given point in time, but to enumerate these would occupy far too much space. Furthermore, one of the key virtues of this book is that it provides a link between auctions and other forms of licence awards to network roll-outs and launches that have been achieved or are likely to occur during 2020. It should be added that the databases will be almost fully up-to-date at the time of publication, despite the time lag between manuscript submission and publication, as the coronavirus pandemic brought licence awards to a grinding halt in February 2020, and there was an associated disruption in the launch and dissemination of devices capable of handling 5G.

Finally, it is worth noting that because this book is, at least for the time being, unique, it is not going to be possible to assess how well the authors have met their objectives in comparison to other texts. All that can be said ultimately is that they hope that the book has achieved what it set out to do and that it will indeed prove to be useful to a wide range of readers.


Curwen, 2002 Curwen, P. (2002). The future of mobile communications: Awaiting the third generation. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Curwen and Whalley, 2013 Curwen, P. , & Whalley, J. (2013). Fourth generation mobile communication: The path to superfast connectivity. London: Springer.

Dahlman et al., 2020 Dahlman, E. , Parkvall, S. , & Skold, J. (2020). The next generation wireless access technology. New York, NY: Academic Press.

Osseiran et al., 2016 Osseiran, A. , Monserrat, J. , & Marsch, P. (Eds.). (2016). 5G mobile and wireless communications technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Webb, 2016 Webb, W. (2016). The 5G Myth: And why consistent connectivity is a better future. Cambridge: Webb Search Limited.