i3 | January 08, 2020

5G: Are We There Yet?

Susan Schreiner

A host of 5G smartphones are launching at CES this year from LG Electronics, Samsung and many others.

Enthusiasm around 5G focuses on commercial launches by the four largest U.S. mobile operators. By the end of 2022, 24% of connections in North America will be on 5G networks, rising to 46% by 2025 — equivalent to 200 million 5G connections — according to a new GSMA study on North America’s global 5G leadership.

5G enables intelligent connectivity that will enhance all industries. Imagine a digitalized society where 5G radically re-engineers how we perform nearly any task thanks to its capacity to instantaneously meet the needs of any application.

While progress is being made in data throughputs, video streaming latency, data reliability and voice-call setup and drops, backend work still needs to be done on the infrastructure side.

The Evolving Road To 5G

“Verizon is well on its way to 5G,” says Sanyogita Shamsunder, VP of the 5G Labs and Innovation at Verizon. Connectivity and the use of the cloud and computing at the edge in a rapid, real-time manner will create new opportunities.

Verizon Business CEO Tami Erwin says the company’s recent restructure is sending a strong signal of its ambition to be a leader in 5G. “It is clear to us and a growing number of customers that 5G will fundamentally change businesses’ transformational journey,” she says. “This technology will give companies new tools to serve their customers and enable companies to gain efficiencies in their own operations.”

Among early 5G applications is retail, with 5G offering enhanced shopping experiences that impact operations and logistics, including 3D cataloging of inventory and manufacturing for intelligent asset management. AR and VR glasses are not only for entertainment, but for training, education, operations and remote collaboration. Similarly, public safety for emergency responders is another early use-case. “Verizon is testing an infrared mask that can see through smoke,” Shamsunder says.

This technology will give companies new tools to serve their customers and enable companies to gain efficiencies in their own operations. 
Tami Erwin Verizon Business CEO

Gaming in 5G also offers the potential for “exponential growth.” Lynn McMahon, Accenture’s Media and Entertainment says, “the business model is already in place and consumers are used to, and willing to, subscribe and pay for content.” She adds, “What starts as a pretty cool concept in peer-to-peer playing platforms ends up being taken into the health care industry or automotive and manufacturing.”

Verizon recently launched the “Built on 5G Challenge” with 10 finalists vying to increase business efficiency, improve immersive experiences and solve their customers’ challenging problems to win cash prizes. One of the 5G ideas presented was Loro, a companion app that uses hands-free and eye-tracking technology to help those with accessibility challenges take advantage of smart home devices. There is also Mobcrush, who is working on a B2C live streaming platform for gaming creators and Garou, a VR experience aimed at building communi ties where users can share VR content and interact with others for real estate purposes or recreational exploration

Hype or Reality?

It seems to be both — although there are signs that 2020 could be a tipping-point. Challenges remain as regulators consider how to level the playing field. On a global basis, there needs to be more spectrum for operators at a reasonable cost. However, the transformative potential of 5G is unrivaled as new ways to monetize assets unfold and new use-models are created to solve real challenges.

January/February 2020 i3 Issue Cover

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