it comes to the wireless networks of the future, speed won’t be
The advent of so-called 5G, or fifth-generation, wireless technology
will bring incredible speed, for sure, with the industry aiming to see
your network connection jump by 100 times. (Yes, 100.) More importantly,
the network will be smart enough to act differently depending on how
it’s accessed, whether from a heart monitor when you’re relaxing at home
or from a self-driving car zipping down a crowded highway.
That’s according to Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson, one of the world’s
largest suppliers of telecommunications equipment.
His comments provide a glimpse into what tomorrow’s wireless network
will look like. While carriers around the world are still deploying 4G
networks, which have brought broadband speeds over the air, there’s
increasing chatter about what’s next. In the US, Verizon Wireless has
already said it plans to field-test its own take on 5G next year, and
the industry is starting to talk about the new kinds of devices and
connected services that will spring from the technology.
"Many industries will look at how 5G will transform their business,"
Vestberg said in an interview on Friday. "It’s my job to build a network
to handle that."
As fast as Verizon is moving, the industry isn’t expected to invest in
the technology in earnest until 2020. The speed and capacity 5G brings
could offer a legitimate alternative to the physical connection
available via Internet service providers and companies such as Google,
which use fiber optics to deliver super-high speeds. 5G is supposed to
be even faster.
Depending on the device, 5G may have a range of behaviors, he said.
The network has to be responsive enough to tell a self-driving car where
to go and how to react to situations that require a split-second
reaction. It has to be consistent enough to maintain a connection with a
hypothetical chipset in your body that can monitor your vitals, but know
to instantly ping emergency services in case something goes wrong. It
also has to operate efficiently enough that farms can use sensors that
can ping the network for 10 years on a single charge.
In other cases, 5G wireless technology may replace the broadband
service coming into your home via wires or cables, Vestberg said. It’s
already happening with 4G in some parts of the world, but 5G adds higher
speed and capacity. With 5G, carriers could also deliver super-sharp 4K
video to the home.
One of the reasons Verizon is holding its test so early is to figure
out what kinds of applications can take advantage of 5G, the New
York-based telecommunications company said in September.
Vestberg declined to comment on the plans of his carrier customers,
but noted that there was a cost to building out these networks, with
players such as AT&T projected to spend roughly $10 billion this year.
He also warned that as capacity and speeds have increased, so too has