5G is not simply the latest incremental step from 4G – it’s an entirely different proposition altogether. 5G will completely transform the role connectivity plays in our everyday lives, making widespread some extraordinary use cases which were the preserve of a very few who could afford elite technologies, and making many others possible for the first time. The services made possible by 5G, through its enormous data transfer speeds and ultra-low latency, are wholly unprecedented in their sophistication – and, with operators in the process of commercial network launches now, they are soon to arrive on the mass global market.
It’s natural therefore that 5G is the focus for Future Networks at this year’s Innovation City, which runs in Hall 4 for the duration of Mobile World Congress. The Future Networks programme has partnered with leading players in the industry – including China Unicom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Huawei and more – to showcase some of the latest and most intriguing additions to the rapidly growing stable of offerings in 5G services. China Unicom and Huawei’s work with UBTECH, for instance, illustrates the latest advances made in artificial intelligence services through 5G: users can interact with AI bots to make video calls, check local weather conditions and browse the news, all through a highly sophisticated interface but virtually no latency.
The immersive capabilities of augmented reality and virtual reality are brought to life in a joint effort by Deutsche Telekom and Huawei, who will show us what the vertical industry partners of mobile operators can now do for consumers using 5G and edge computing. Deutsche Telekom will demo the MobileEdgeX platform, which allows users to visit a virtual car showroom to browse vehicles without ever leaving their homes; and Huawei will illustrate the uses to which 5G and mixed reality technologies can be put in training, education and professional collaboration. The latter use case has particularly transformative implications for high-risk professions – the need for workers to endanger themselves and others will soon be greatly diminished by allowing skills and practice to be built upon virtually, before the real-world tasks are carried out.
The importance of interoperability will be underscored by Telefonica, who will demonstrate how operators can now interconnect their virtualised networks to provide continuity between the network slices which help to make 5G a commercially viable endeavour. Making such sophisticated technologies economical is of course essential, and we hope attention will be paid and lessons learned from this important ongoing development.
Another way in which 5G can yield return on investment, and attract as rich an array of ecosystem innovation as possible, is by ensuring all areas of connected life are brought fully into 5G’s scope. Connected transport’s inclusion in the 5G revolution will therefore be showcased by a partnership between McLaren, 5GIG, DenseAir and BlueWireless, who will show delegates how business models can be created around neutral hosting and network sharing, to lower barriers to deployment – collaboration is at the heart of the industry’s future success, and schemes of this kind ensure that innovation can thrive through both lively competition and cooperation on the fundamentals which are in the interests of all.
Anyone can drop into the Innovation City, which runs throughout Mobile World Congress – starting at 8:00 on Monday, and ending at 16:00 on Thursday. If you’d like to see any of the work above in action, ask questions of innovators, and meet key players in the field with a view to future collaboration, please just come along to Hall 4 whenever you can.