Love it or hate it, the sprawling Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held each January in Las Vegas is a good indication of the pulse of technology innovation and the directions that industry leaders are headed. At the event, we get to see not only what is new in consumer electronics but also what the future areas of focus will be.
This year, in addition to voice assistants, smart and autonomous cars, augmented reality and artificial intelligence everywhere, the next evolution of cellular data transmission, known as fifth-generation or "5G" technology garnered a great deal of attention at the 2018 event.
5G connectivity promises to be revolutionary, and transform nearly every aspect of our lives - changing the way that we live, communicate, work, travel, study, maintain our health and entertain ourselves. But what are some of the distinguishing features of 5G? And who are the key players in bringing 5G to life?
Experts and key players predict that 5G will be about three times faster than current 4G speeds and will enable tens of billions more devices to connect and communicate. A recent article on Gizmodo noted that "Gartner predicts that 20.8 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. By comparison, there are currently an estimated 6.4 billion connected devices in the world."
Techworld spoke with Paul Gainham, senior director, SP Marketing EMEA at Juniper Networks, who said that "Current 4G mobile standards have the potential to provide 100s of Mbps. 5G offers to take that into multi-gigabits per second, giving rise to the 'Gigabit Smartphone' and hopefully a slew of innovative services and applications that truly need the type of connectivity that only 5G can offer." To put this in perspective, one often-repeated claim about the potential speed of 5G is that users will be able to download a feature-length film in a fraction of a second and will be faster than most US users' current (wired) home internet.
In the United States, the Federal government under the Obama Administration became a catalyst for investment, research and development into 5G technology. This activity was driven by the realization in the US and other countries becomes clear that investment and leadership in 5G is critical to national economic strength and competitiveness.
"The NSF is pledging $50 million over the next 5 years as part of an $85 million total investment by the foundation and private-sector companies to build the testing platforms starting with the 2017 fiscal year. NSF is also committing $350 million over the next seven years that will take research from the concept phase to real-world testing at scale… The list of companies that are lending a hand with the federal 5G effort also includes AT&T, Verizon, Spring, T-Mobile, Samsung, HTC, Nokia and Qualcomm among others. Each will contribute research and testing know-how to the process as the technology is being developed."
So, what can we expect from 5G technology?
This excellent, brief video from Bloomberg gives a good idea of some of the changes in store for us once 5G becomes widespread: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2018-04-11/what-the-5g-future-means-for-your-phone-video
Here are some other links you might want to take a closer look at as well for a brief overview of what’s coming and when:
Previous Tech Blogs on this site have discussed IoT and smart technologies like "smart dust", IoT for Agriculture, smart cities and more. Many of these fledgling technologies will only be possible – or really show their promise – when 5G connectivity comes online. In surveying multiple reports on the promise of 5G, we came away with these top areas, although undoubtedly this is open for debate:
Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Device Connectivity
Digital & Remote Healthcare
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
Supply Chain Management and Manufacturing
Autonomous Vehicles and Smart Roadways
Major US wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon are discussing plans to begin rolling out 5G service in limited markets and applications by the end of 2018, so we will get our first taste of this new technology here in the United States – and begin to see how it will transform our world – within the next few months.
What are your thoughts about 5G, and where do you see it being most beneficial? Drop us a line and let us know - and as always, thanks for reading our Tech Blog!