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5G-U: Conceptualizing Integrated Utilization of Licensed and Unlicensed Spectrum for Future IoT

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Article number8722595
Pages (from-to)92-98
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Communications Magazine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


IoT applications constitute one of the fastest developing areas in today's technology and at the same time pose the most demanding challenges for the respective radio access network design. While the initial studies in IoT were focused primarily on scaling the existing radio solutions for higher numbers of small-data and low-cost sensors, the current developments aim at supporting wearable augmented/virtual reality platforms, moving industrial robots, driving (semi-)autonomous vehicles, and flying drones, which produce large amounts of data. To satisfy these rapidly growing performance demands, the 5G-grade IoT is envisioned to increasingly employ millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum, where wider bandwidths promise to enable higher data rates and low-latency communication. While the mainstream trend in mmWave-based IoT is to rely on licensed bands around 28 GHz or leverage unlicensed bands at 60 GHz, in this work we introduce a conceptual vision for the integrated use of these frequencies within a single radio access system named 5G over unlicensed spectrum or 5G-U. We study the performance of 5G-U in supporting stringent IoT use cases, discuss and compare the alternative strategies for spectrum management in 5G-U, and demonstrate that a harmonized utilization of licensed and unlicensed bands provides notable performance improvements in both device-centric and network-centric metrics. Finally, we offer useful guidelines for future implementations of 5G-U and detail its potential applications in the area of advanced IoT services.

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