In the near future, fifth-generation mobile networks (5G) could provide an excellent opportunity to transform our world. The technology will enable forward-thinking companies across many industries to innovate and create services that we can only imagine today. But will 5G fully live up to its promise?
5G is the foundation for realizing the potential of the Networked Society, where anything that can benefit from having a connection will be connected. 5G will enable organizations to move into additional markets and build revenue streams with radically new business models and use cases, including Internet of Things (IoT) applications. (See CEO Chat With Hans Vestberg, Ericsson.)
5G is expected to manage 1,000 times more data volume, handle 10-100 times more devices, provide five times lower latency, and enable a ten-year battery life for certain devices on the network, compared to 4G today. This means it will be possible to download a full-length HD movie in seconds, to have an autonomous car apply its brakes in a couple of centimeters instead of a couple of meters, and to realize the promise of the IoT –- with network capacity to handle thousands of devices and longer battery life to make maintenance of the devices more manageable.
We are now in the midst of the 5G journey. We have just passed important milestones in research and development, and standardization efforts are underway. But if you look at the media coverage around 5G, it is a bit like Valentine's Day. Vendors, service providers and partners send each other Valentine cards, and whoever gets the most cards is perceived as the most popular. This might give the impression that one vendor can create 5G alone, but that is not the case. (See 5G: Hurdles on the Track.)
To create a next-generation mobile network requires extensive co-operation inside our industry but also with new players. 5G is bringing greater levels of co-operation between vendors, service providers, enterprises, media companies and industrial users. Behind the scenes, far away from the Valentine cards, it is about finding and setting a global standard for communication that will impact the way we live, run enterprises and manage our world. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) vendors have been working with 5G for several years, leveraging the experiences from previous generations. However, 5G is more than faster data speeds,and extensive work across many dimensions is required to make it a reality. Let me give you a couple of examples of behind the scenes activities:
Behind the scenes the industry is working closely in many areas, such as technology evolution and pre-standardization. The next important milestones are the product roadmaps and deployment of products. That is when the real race will start and it will be time to exceed expectations. By then the Valentine cards will look totally different. They will be based on trust and on delivering on all the promises that 5G has to offer.
For now it is important for the industry to get enough scale in the development to come out with strong technology on a very cost-efficient level. We need to make sure there is one global standard that does not fragment vendors as this would prevent the global scale that we achieved with technologies like LTE. It requires global teamwork, and that certainly will need a lot of love!
— Ulf Ewaldsson, SVP and CTO, Ericsson