Ian Moyse, Industry Cloud Influencer
Two small characters, one big impact. 5G is something we have all heard as if it’s the commonest term in tech and yet it is still in its infancy although it is growing up incredibly fast and in a smart way outclassing those around it.
5G is not simply a speed upgrade for our smartphones as per the mantle that 4G took. 5G has a far wider scope to disrupt our world and the way we access so many other technologies from cloud, AI, big data, IOT (internet of things), robotics through to drones and virtual reality.
5G is the most important generation leap of communications we have ever seen. 5G is the standard set for how devices interoperate wirelessly in a faster, more tolerant and reliable manner. It has already set a pace far greater than its predecessor 4G and 3G counterparts; the first commercial 5G devices appeared in 2019 and 24 months on 120 carriers have launched with 5G around the globe with 490+ 5G connecting devices available to purchase with more carriers and devices coming on line continually; it took 4G 3 years to reach 100 million users, 5G surpassed this in its 1st year and has gone on to reach 200+ million in the first 2 years.
I had the pleasure this week of a walkthrough of the Huawei Galileo Exhibition, which was as well designed and presented as would be expected from a Disney experience, a great tech firms showcase. Huawei is more than just a name in the 5G world, it has invested 4 Billion in R&D over last 10 years encompassing the efforts of over 7000 PhD researchers. including 700 mathematicians, 800 Physicists and 120 chemists. Through this Huawei now owns 20% of the worlds 5G patents!
A faster smartphone is the most trivial aspect bought to us by the 5G experience and already the diversity of affordable 5G devices and the use cases are impressive, ranging from industrial applications, disruptive game changes of the healthcare sector through to simpler IOT cameras and edge gateways. However, this simple benefit is not to be overlooked as I later found out the whole live tour I experienced was broadcast on a 5G phone; High Definition, no glitches and a quality I would have described as television fit.
For 4G video was the killer app, for 5G think Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) where the power and throughput of 5G can bring multiple real worlds together with high-definition real-time video and audio removing the dropouts ad glitches we accept today in 4G. Consider the applications in education, entertainment and navigation where low latency, high speed and reliability enable application bars to raise to a new level. Take navigation, imaging a real-world image of the roads you are driving in Google Maps augmented with your car image in high definition in real-time with no lag or dropout at that key intersection!
This is a game changer for vertical industries, think of the improvements to health and safety for example in specialist areas such as industrial mining where there is already proven cases of removing the people from the dirty and risky mining face and having those workers re-skilled to remotely operate the machinery from the safety of a control hub centre. 5G being the glue that brings the skills and experience to the remove drill face machinery deep underground. 5G brings us the capability to bring comms to challenging environments in an affordable and reliable manner. This has already proven to bring 60% of the below ground workforce to a safer above ground working environment.
To gain the true benefit of 5G it is not just the handset to the router 5G that needs to be enabled but the 5G throughput end to end, this is where Huawei is the preferred partner of 5G for a volume of global operators due to its innovation and patents in the equipment needing to be deployed to achieve this new network paradigm. With Huawei’s 5G products and technologies, network performance is better than other operators can deliver, in a far smaller, faster to deploy and more energy efficient footprint.
5G is a game changer not only for the customer, but also for the telecom operators, not simply because of the technology, but because fundamentally 5G extends carriers to extend their reach past the traditional perimeter, through into the b2B business at new levels including cloud, applications and AI delivery. There have been industry phases labelling cloud 1.0 through 4.0 as the technology has advanced. Is this the emergence of cloud 5.0, a new cloud model where the limitations we have on cloud through bandwidth availability and reliability are removed? We can expect to see a new delivery of in the cloud compute, with more edge devices and remote anywhere capabilities which will being us a new accelerated world of creativity and innovation far beyond what we have experienced in the last 10 years. We are about to witness hypergrowth of cloud and AI powered applications far beyond our imagination.
For example, in the broadcasting arena 5G is a game changer, enabling 4k and 8K live transmissions to be delivered from hugely condensed equipment at the fraction of the traditional cost of a remote broadcast vehicle. This empowers ‘live’ to be from far greater and more challenging locations (for example a 5G broadcast was just made live from Everest) and for innovators in the content creation arena to come to market and challenge the traditional providers, creativity outweighing budget as the deciding factor.
Industrial manufacturing is empowered to become more agile with robotics being freed from the constraints of wired networks, which are expensive and less reliable. 5G allows greater data collection from untethered devices faster, in turn enabling predictive AI to utilise greater real-time data sets for predictive maintenance to be become the norm. Further than simply having commercial advantage to the top and bottom lines, 5G has social value when you extend its reach into healthcare; think remote healthcare with high-definition real-time imagery and remote controlling of sensitive critical medical equipment, that is easily portable to any patient, anywhere. This is already proven in examples of multiple expert consultants able to collaborate on a complex medical issue with a patient in real time with data, video and device control simultaneously interacting from remote locations with true resilience and security in play. To this end a laser engraved card was remotely manufactured and robot delivered live during the session with my name on.
To empower the benefits of this wonderful new technology to be available for both the business and consumer, the rollout of the infrastructure is key. This is where for most the challenge lies, both commercially and practically. To deploy 5G to be available has some key physical constraints; Antenna’s need to be deployed, power needs to be available, and even simpler, permission needs to be in place for any access and shutting of roads for the installation process. This is where Huawei has been smart in its innovations, bringing devices that are more compact and power efficient than any other; through also creating dual band support, they have enabled smaller units that can backwardly support 2G, 3G and 4G as well as 5G in one compact unit, thus making site deployment easier, faster and cheaper than other vendors can support (and on the whole without needing permission for planning or road closures!). This is where much of the R&D and expertise of the people aforementioned has been focused; having a game changing technology is not of much value if you cannot utilise it in a timely fashion.
So, for the economic regions currently restricted from utilising this invested technology and expected to fall years behind others, to what disadvantage on the world’s commerce stage does this place businesses. The geo-political stance against Huawei may put some of the haves into the have nots category, being that their 5G rollouts are now muted to be put back by years. A recent UK report cited that in this region alone, the delay could cost £41bn in lost revenues rising to as much as £173bn of lost incremental GDP in the decade ahead.