5G is Arriving, and the World is Taking Note

April 9, 2018

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As the technical and commercial understanding of 5G matures, the many vertical industries who partner regularly with mobile network operators – and the public at large – are increasingly engaging with this new network technology as something more than just superfast internet.

This is reflected by the growing pool of businesses and industries that are now openly and confidently talking about next generation of intelligent services that 5G will enable. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, speakers and delegates from across the vertical industries – from Toyota, to Alibaba, to Bosch – joined leading operators EE and Telstra to address packed auditoriums, on what is now an imminent transformation of the uses cases that 5G enables. There is a growing awareness of how Network Slicing and virtualisation – whereby industry-specific segments of 5G networks can be tailored to particular users, and manipulated effortlessly via software – are answering questions over 5G economics. The result is that the business world is now very much awake to 5G as a practical and commercial reality, and the mobile industry is ready to engage.

5G is far more than simply a generational update from 4G – it will entirely change the way we view mobile technology. 5G provides the ultra-reliable and low latency communications needed for highly sensitive, mission-critical applications – where failure to connect simply is not an option – such as self-driving cars and digital healthcare services.  In the case of healthcare, the entire doctor-patient relationship will be transformed by 5G, as patients for instance become able to seamlessly transmit vital signs and status updates from the comfort of their own homes via wearable devices; use cases of this kind are forecast to enable more than $1 trillion in new products and services in the healthcare sector. The enormous demands placed on bandwidth by much of what industry automation and smart cities have to offer, too, will require the gigabytes-in-seconds capabilities of 5G. Ubiquitous, hyper-reliable coverage at speeds of this kind – coupled with ultra-low power consumption – paves the way for intelligent utilities, smart traffic management and even automatic gunshot detection in urban environments. And, of course, 5G lends itself to video gaming in an unprecedented way, at a time when the gaming industry is now worth more than $100 billion.

Players outside the mobile industry are increasingly excited about the possibilities of such a step-change, and appetites for involvement are growing rapidly.  The evidence of this is clear: in the UK for instance, 5G is attracting considerable interest at the highest levels of government. Minister of State for Digital & Culture, Margot James MP, was in attendance at the Innovation City in Barcelona last month, where 5G’s various use cases so far were brought to life. Some of the UK’s most prominent universities are now collaborating to take research forward on 5G. The University of Bristol, King’s College London and the University of Surrey were granted £17 million by the UK Government in July 2017 to develop the first trials of end-to-end 5G systems.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, said of the investment that “we want to be at the head of the field in 5G. This funding will support the pioneering research needed to ensure we can harness the potential of this technology to spark innovation, create new jobs and boost the economy. We know 5G has the potential to bring more reliable, ultrafast mobile connectivity, with quicker reaction times and larger data capabilities, and I’m thrilled to announce King’s College London and the universities of Surrey and Bristol have agreed to collaborate on this project.” We at the GSMA entirely share this sentiment, and keenly await the results of the private sector’s now gathering momentum in 5G’s development.

The Future Networks team are always on the look-out for the latest exciting demos that bring 5G to life. If you think you have something interesting on this topic that you would like us to consider for future Seminars or Demos during Mobile World Congress (Americas, Barcelona, Shanghai), please send a message to amilne@gsma.com.

Interested in the 5G discussions at MWC18? Download the full 5G Seminar recording here or read this blog to get up to speed.

For more 5G Resources, please visit this page.

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