Revision of 5G dimensions, use cases and requirements

Mikael Fallgren and Afif Osseiran (Ericsson)

The most central use cases and requirements on 5G capabilities are still being finalized both in ITU [1] and 3GPP [2]. There seems to be an agreement regarding the main use cases to be supported, illustrated in Figure 1, though additional use cases may naturally enter and evolve later in time as well. These main use cases span three different dimensions: enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine type communications and ultra-reliable low latency communications.

Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB): The increasing market demand that also drove 3G and 4G mobile networks, i.e. the extended support of conventional Mobile Broadband (MBB) through improved peak/average/cell-edge data rates, capacity, and coverage, is still one of the main driving forces behind 5G – referred to as eMBB. The main requirements for eMBB in 5G networks are:

  • peak data rates: 20 Gbps in Downlink (DL), 10 Gbps in Uplink (UL),
  • user experienced data rates (5th percentile user throughput): 100 Mbps (DL), 50 Mbps (UL),
  • area capacity: 10 Mbps/m2 (indoor hotspot),
  • user plane latency: 4 ms (average one-way).

Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC): The envisioned 5G Internet of Things (IoT) scenario with tens of billions of connected devices and sensors has relaxed data rate and latency demands, while the mMTC scenario at the same time has strict requirements in:

  • connection density: 106 devices/km2,
  • coverage: 164 dB Maximum Coupling Loss (MCL),
  • device battery life: 10-15 years.

Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC): Emerging critical applications such as industrial internet, smart grids, infrastructure protection, remote surgery, and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) have very strict latency and reliability requirements. For this ultra-reliable and low latency area, the relevant 5G requirements are:

  • user plane latency: less than 0.5 ms (one-way UL and DL),
  • user plane latency: less than 1 ms and reliability of 99.999% (one-way UL and DL),
  • control plane latency: tens of ms,
  • mobility interruption time: 0 ms.


Figure 1. The main 5G use cases and applications


[1] ITU-R, IMT Vision – Framework and overall objectives of the future development of IMT for 2020 and beyond, Recommendation ITU-R M.2083-0, September 2015.

[2] 3GPP, Study on scenarios and requirements for next generation access technologies, 3GPP TR 38.913, October 2016.