5G may be five to seven years from implementation, but researchers are working to develop the capabilities and efficiencies that will dramatically impact the way the average cell phone user interfaces with technology.

The next generation of wireless networks will not only be faster, but also more intelligent and efficient because of research being conducted at the University of Oklahoma as part of a worldwide collaboration in telecommunications.

Ali Imran, an assistant professor in the OU-Tulsa telecommunications engineering program, is leading the research to develop Self Organization Networks. The networks will use data to configure and organize themselves for peak efficiency, redistributing capacity throughout the day to where it’s needed for faster connection speeds and lower costs.

“In daytime most users are concentrated in commercial areas, offices and schools,” Imran said. “In the evening users are concentrated in residential areas. There’s no reason we should have equal capacity in both areas all the time.”

The efficiency of intelligent wireless networks could reduce the operational and capital costs of cellular infrastructure, making it less expensive for carriers to provide faster service. With increasing data volumes per subscriber, each generation of wireless technology is less profitable than the one before.

Imran said while the 5G technology is still in the planning phase is the time to think about how to use the deluge of rich data to make the 5G network more efficient.