Will 5G Change Lives? Infrastructure Providers, Carriers, Even Dell EMC And HPE Are Betting It Will

Do you feel the need for speed? Imagine the ability to move from 100s of megabits per second today to 10,000+ in the future on your smartphone or tablet. 5G will turn all of that into a reality. To badly misquote one of my favorite superheroes, “With great speed comes great performance.” Thus 5G has the potential to create an entirely new class of devices and services that will change our lives forever.

Carriers all over the world are betting big. In April of this year, T-Mobile spent billions of dollars at FCC auction on spectrum that is targeted for 5G service deployment in the US and claims that it will be first to market with ubiquitous coverage. Sprints commercial 5G availability is slated for late 2019 with its galactic far far away flavored announcement of C3PO, a scheme aimed at virtualizing its networks to make them more efficient (as a Star Wars nerd I applaud the naming convention). Across the globe, China Mobile and China Telecom have announced that 5G trials will begin in Xiongan in 2018 with a goal to commercialize networks by 2020.

Is the road to 5G paved in gold?

Lots of wireless infrastructure companies are investing in hardware, software and solutions that provide the “plumbing” to make 5G a reality. Despite current financial woes, Ericsson recently launched its “dynamic orchestration” solution promising to help carriers migrate to 5G by virtualizing their networks. Its 5G platform tools combine core, radio and transport solutions and will support trials in Australia with Vodafone and Spark in New Zealand among others.

And even the PC companies are getting into the game. Dell EMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) both offer services around Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) to enable a faster transition from 4G to 5G. NFV is an initiative to virtualize network services that have traditionally run on dedicated, proprietary hardware. It facilitates moving services like load balancing, firewalls and intrusion prevention systems away from dedicated hardware. On the other hand, SDN is a series of network objects: switches, routers, firewalls, all deployed in a highly-automated manner. The result of deploying both NFV and SDN can help service providers and carriers minimize service delivery cost and improve time-to-market based on using open standards and cloud-based technologies. 5G is expected to be costly and complicated to rollout, thus these solutions can add significant value and accelerate the transition from 4G to 5G.
Future services will seem like something out of a sci-fi movie

In addition to the aforementioned superhero, I’m a huge science fiction movie fan and 5G promises to bring technology and services only once imagined. Remember those self-driving cars in Minority Report and I Robot? Augmented reality heads-up displays in the movie Aliens? 5G will make all of that a reality and more. Nokia , a major player among wireless infrastructure providers cited many more use cases in a 2016 technical paper. Among them, smart city sensors that can trigger needed road repair, smart energy grids that flex to meet spiking power demands, logistics and freight tracking and telemedicine enhancements that include remote measurement of heart rate, blood pressure and other vital statistics.

Apple recently announced a planned enhancement to the Apple Watch to monitor glucose levels for people suffering from diabetes. Think about the power of a 5G network to carry that data back and forth via a telemedicine application to improve the quality of their lives.

5G is around the corner and one thing is for certain: our lives will be touched in one way or another by it. Game over man, game over!