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  • Writer's pictureElise Quevedo

5G, a new era of connectivity in the spotlight

We know 5G is ready and during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the spotlight was on 5G. Many exhibits centered around how 5G can improve entertainment, virtual reality and transportation. They had devices designed for the smart city, driver less cars and even smart bandages that track your healing.

There has been big changes in technology over the past few years and we have all experienced 2G, 3G & 4G mobile networks. 2G kicked off an era of global communications, 3G & 4G brought us mobile internet. 5G is the next generation, not only will it deliver greater speed and lower latency, it will be able to connect many more devices. We live in a fast paced world with technology evolving at a rate faster than ever before.

As Huawei says, anything that can be connected will be connected. 5G will be the portal to the digital world for everything and every person.

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group said:

“5G technology will underpin the next leap forward for our intelligent world, where people, vehicles, homes and devices are fully connected, delivering new experiences, insights and capabilities”

Working with industry partners such as Vodafone, Telefonica, T-Mobile, China Mobile and Softbank to name few, Huawei is hoping to develop a range of 5G ready WIFI devices, industrial modules and of course smartphones.

Richard Yu also added:

“From connected vehicles and smart homes to AR/VR and hologram videos, we are committed to developing a mature 5G ecosystem, so that consumers can benefit from a truly connected world that transforms the way we communicate and share”

From a consumer point of view, stay patient, as although some handsets may appear in 2018, deployment will realistically be in 2019. In business, some countries are adopting 5G quicker than others. The ones in the lead are China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Norway.

Virtual Reality & Transportation

Let’s take Virtual Reality, a few days ago I shared that during my visit at Huawei XLabs, I was able to land on the moon! I had a black helmet, a backpack and a pair of gloves. That’s al I needed to immerse myself in that experience. A simulation of what a NASA moon mission might be like. In my 4 minute experience I took a trip on an elevator from the landing module to the moon’s surface.

Huawei relocates the process of image rendering to cloud with its CG cloud VR demo, allowing VR experiences to be free of cables. Real time VR is something everyone is eager to try, although as we know, it has been around for years.

And what about transportation? If you did pop by Huawei at Hall 4, then you would have noticed eHANG’s Taxi drone, large enough to fit one person. And yes, it will be making its official debut in Dubai, taking passengers from Dubai’s airport to some of the most luxurious hotels later this year.

5G service could allow remote drivers to steer taxi-sized drones.

We also heard how 5G could connect trains and passengers in a new level. Imagine waiting at the platform and before the train arrives, you get a notification of where the available seats are.

Digital Transformation in the 5G Era

In the coming 5G era, all things in daily life will be connected and all industries will be transformed through digitalization.

Mobile has already changed how we communicate and now it’s changing how we live. In the future, mobile will change society and reshape the world. Mobile will be the foundation and enabler of transformation in all industries and the development of society.

Huawei revealed a joint innovation program with Bouygues elecom to experiment with the network in France. Bouygues Telecom hope to provide high capacities for data services with 5G, greatly improving user experience and help Huawei maintain its market position.

The first trial will take place in Bordeaux, with both parties excited about the trial. Yang Chaobin, President of Huawei 5G Product Line: “We are proud of the innovation agreement signed today with Bouygues Telecom. This first 5G trial in Bordeaux marks a key milestone for the expansion of 5G network in France that will support business growth by opening new opportunities”

By 2020 there will be a mass market build out. 5G will make network operations more complex. The existing operating model will cause high OPEX that carriers will find difficult to sustain. Therefore, carriers must evolve towards automated and intelligent operations to effectively respond to their customers' needs in the 5G era. It is estimated that by 2023 there will be more than 1 billion 5G subscriptions.

Connecting Emerging Markets

During Huawei’s Digital Transformation Forum, they said Huawei will work with local operators, governments and industry partners to form IT solutions for emerging markets. Huawei aims to target even the most rural of areas with 5G technologies.

Zhou Jianjun, VP of Huawei Carrier Business Group said:

"To capitalise on the vast opportunities in emerging markets, operators need to deliver a better scenario-based service and accelerate their return on investment,”

"Huawei is focused on three core areas to help operators meet the burgeoning demands on their networks. We are engaging with industry partners to build open, cooperative, and win-win industry ecosystems for IT infrastructure, and creating business solutions to help operators deliver services that generate new revenue streams while simultaneously improving the quality of life in emerging markets"

Huawei said more than 30 such infrastructure industry alliances have been formed. The RuralStar solution is developed for remote rural areas in Africa to improve local network coverage. Approximately 80 million users have been served. 40,000 upgraded base stations are planned to be deployed later this year, serving 180 million users.

In Mongolia, Philippines, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, wireless-to-the-x (WTTx) has provided the most cost-effective home broadband services. Over the course of one year, in Mongolia and Morocco, broadband connections are provided for 10% and 5% of families, respectively. In Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the traditional copper cables will be introduced to improve user experience.

Ken Hu, Huawei Rotating CEO said:

"5G standards and technologies are maturing. As market demand continues to grow, Huawei plans to launch a full range of end-to-end 5G products, including customer premise equipment, to help carriers get a head start on 5G”

Ryan Ding says: “Huawei helps its customers build 5G networks. More importantly, we are committed to working with global industry partners to help our customers succeed in their 5G business. We will help customers build better 5G capabilities in every area, from technology and ecosystem, to applications, AI, cloud, professional services, and consultancy. Together, let's move towards a fully connected, intelligent world.”

5G is a major opportunity for carriers, and as digital transformation spreads, the opportunities for carriers will grow bigger. The connection of all things will create a new trillion-dollar market.

I asked fellow Global Thought Leader, Mike Flache, his views on 5G & Digital Transformation. This is what he had to say :

"I see a lot of companies that ignore the most important goal of their digital transformation initiative: to offer a real benefit for both customers and businesses. As simple as that may sound in theory, putting this into practice is especially difficult for traditionally-grown companies. Far too often, digital transformation is still considered to be a pure technology subject. These people are clearly missing the point. Companies that realize efficiency and productivity gains and, additionally, implement digital growth, embrace the task holistically. And… they “synchronize” their corporate culture with the advancement of digital transformation–freeing themselves from “old” thinking and work patterns"

Mike also said: "5G and its further development will provide exciting new business opportunities. And, like its predecessors, 5G will also change again the way how we work together in a positive way. I’m thinking about a globally operating organization with an agile and remote workforce. Thanks to higher speed, lower latency and better security, this workforce will be able to spend their valuable time on finding the best solutions for a business/market problem, not on business traveling or increasing their rush-hour experiences. Imagine automotive design teams that collaborate worldwide. They will be completely free in visualizing, testing, and developing their ideas in full-size virtual environment—up to 24k resolution. This allows a completely new dimension of content sharing and increased productivity between designers. 5G will help make it happen"

Is the world ready for 5G? Not fully, a lot of infrastructure needs to be put into place first, but it’s exciting to know that 5G is ready now, that is being implemented in some markets and the results are incredible. Now it is up to the decision makers to get that infrastructure ready.

2018 will be remembered as the first year that marks the beginning of the 5G era. The only way forward is 5G.

Elise Quevedo


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