This is part one of a three part series covering the next generation 5G mobile network. How will increased speed, capacity and reliability change everything? We have asked VP and Head of Technology at Telenor Research, Patrick Waldemar to enlighten us.
Part two: How will 5G affect the automotive industry and mobility?
Part three: How will 5G affect supply chain & logistics?


 

5G is the next generation mobile network that promises to be a game changer when it comes to how we live our lives, and that also challenges how we do business in just about every industry. A big claim for sure, but if we look at the past 10 years, we have already seen some radical changes in both consumer behaviour and business already. Advances in mobile technology have been a big driver of these changes.

WWL sat down with Patrick Waldemar, VP and Head of Technology in Telenor Research, and he gave us insight into both what 5G is, and how it will affect business and consumers alike.

Extreme speeds and capacity

Patrick wasn’t really interested in talking too much about the speed of 5G, because, as he pointed out, most people are already happy with the maximum speeds of 4G. The real breakthrough with 5G is the capacity for up to one thousand 5G-connected devices per person, for all the 7 billion people in the world. This will enable the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) that we will come back to later in this article.

Another significant fact is that 5G is targeting 0 milliseconds perceived latency and a reduction up to 90 % of the power consumption from wireless units. This will make it much easier to design 5G-connected devices that will become a part of our everyday life. Just out of interest, 5G is also designed to reach a maximum data rate of 10 Gb/s, which is a hundred times faster than the maximum of 100 Mb/s that 4G reaches today. This will allow for new industrial services and amazing media and entertainment services.

The Internet of Things (and the planet) depends on 5G

One of the great expectations for the future is not only that every human is connected to the Internet, but also most of our stuff is connected too. It is called the Internet of Things (IoT). With all our devices being smart and connected to the Internet we will enable smart homes that help us be more energy efficient, save time on housekeeping and shopping, and enjoy safer and more efficient public and private transportation.

Today’s mobile network technology is not ready to fully handle these devices yet. However, this is an evolution and the first IoT solutions are being rolled-out on today’s mobile networks.

The IoT is totally dependent on network devices that are more energy efficient, more reliable and use a mobile network with a much higher device density. This is where 5G plays a crucial role. If society wants to reap all the benefits that the IoT can give us, such as reducing our carbon footprint, living longer and healthier lives, and increasing efficiency in production and transport, we need to welcome the new generation of mobile networks with open arms.

5G may be here sooner than you think

Patrick Waldemar tells us that 5G is just around the corner. Big technological advances tend to be announced in relation to the world's biggest sporting events, such as the Olympics. With the Winter Olympics of 2018 in South Korea less than one year away, this will be the perfect backdrop for some impressive demonstrations of an early version of 5G.

The first commercial 5G network will then most likely be available to most people by the next Summer Olympics though, in Japan in 2020.

Among the biggest forces driving the development of 5G are the manufacturers of 5G-enabled equipment such as automobile manufacturers, internet technology companies, the media industry, the medical industry and of course telecoms companies. Since the infrastructure and capability of 5G relies much more on software compared to 4G and its predecessors, we can see a much bigger interest from companies outside the traditional telecoms industry developing our next mobile network, says Patrick.

It is very exciting, and unparalleled in history, that companies that plan to provide content and services through the 5G network are strongly involved in defining the specifications and capabilities of our new network infrastructure. This will push the technology faster, resulting in better services as well as and more specialized services and capabilities in the end product.

Challenges that 5G must overcome

As with all new technology still on the drawing board, the 5G network has a few challenges it must overcome before becoming a viable solution for the future of mobile networks. Some of the bigger obstacles the technology need to overcome are:

  • Finding space for much more data in the already saturated wireless spectrum
  • Figuring out how to efficiently manage a large number of varying sized packages of information
  • Creating computer systems able to handle the vast amounts of data that will be created by IoT communications
  • Reducing both size and power consumption of network devices to meet the needs of the increasingly large number of applications using IoT

According to Patrick Waldemar there is no question of if these challenges will be overcome, but when. Only then will we have the infrastructure needed to see some interesting changes in our society to how we communicate, travel and experience the world.