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March 7, 2019

Mobile World Congress 2019 Wrap-up: 5G is Here .

Mobile World Congress 2019 Wrap-up: 5G is Here

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Tom Sawanobori
Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer

The CTIA team had a great trip to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. It is an exciting time for our industry as the rollout of 5G continues, paced by U.S. wireless providers as well as others around the globe. The transformative nature of 5G was highlighted by the diversity in applications of 5G technologies. From foldable phones to industrial IoT networks with 5G robotic controls, the new developments were great examples of wireless innovation!

5G Smartphones

Industry leaders showed off a variety of new 5G smartphones that will be available this year. Several are powered by Qualcomm’s mobile chipsets. Samsung’s Galaxy S10 has arrived with three different models plus the Galaxy Fold, a small tablet that can fold into the size of a smartphone.

LG premiered their own version of a dual display, the LGV50 ThinQ, a dual screen smartphone.  This device allows you browse the internet while having a video chat with a friend. Motorola offers a way to make a quick 5G upgrade to an existing device simply by snapping a 5G Moto Mod to the back of your current smartphone.

5G Vertical Use Cases

MWC highlighted the benefits of 5G for both personal and business use, from connected vehicles to the power of Artificial Intelligence. Ericsson demonstrated a remote control boat, which leverages the low latency of 5G to sense and maneuver around obstacles in the boat’s path.

Intel displayed mobile edge computing and image recognition technologies that allow for remote tracking and equipment operations on factory floors. Innovations in industrial automation were on display at Nokia through 5G wireless robots, which allow factories to quickly reconfigure assembly lines using software, rather than having to rewire factory-floor machines.

My favorite example of the power of 5G speed and latency was a demonstration by Ericsson of a patient in an ambulance having ultrasound information transmitted to a waiting Emergency Room doctor while en route to the hospital.

Virtual Reality and Gaming

One of the most exciting highlights of the show was Intel’s Spiderman 3D VR experience. Using Intel processors on Nokia base stations, you can play Spiderman and attach webs to buildings and swing your way through New York City.

Location-based mixed reality games and programs impressed as well—AT&T, Ericsson and Warner Brothers have announced their collaboration on a Batman game. And Magic Leap is bringing mixed reality to consumers and enterprises alike—from 3D Angry Birds to mixed reality healthcare uses.

While the entertainment applications are amusing, augmented reality could also be useful for more real-world applications, including workplace training. In high-stakes healthcare situations like surgery, mixed reality could allow a surgeon to see a brain tumor or a person’s spine, giving them the information they need to better perform a successful surgery. The ultra-low latency of 5G makes processing the large amounts of data required for these types of immersive experiences a snap.

With U.S. wireless operators rolling out 5G in communities across the country and 5G-ready smartphones headed to market, 5G is not just our future anymore. 5G networks are officially here and I’m thrilled to see all these new examples of what it will mean for wireless technologies, applications, and customers.

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