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March 4, 2018

This Week in 5G: Themes from Mobile World Congress 2018 .

    This Week in 5G: Themes from Mobile World Congress 2018


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    Tom Sawanobori
    Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer

    As expected, 5G dominated much of the conversation at Mobile World Congress this past week, but some of the most exciting things to come out of Barcelona are the high-speed and real-time (low latency) applications that 5G will power. Let’s dive into the highlights:

    Connected cars and AI are gaining momentum

    At MWC, cars were on full display–Qualcomm demonstrated a 5G-connected car that showed how vehicles communicate with the buildings, traffic lights, other cars, and pedestrians around them. Intel showed cars used in real 5G trials alongside streamed 4K video. If data is fuel for connected cars, the pulse is 5G.

    Looking further toward the future, innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning were highlighted by companies like Nokia and Softbank. The industry is working on new sensors and wearable technologies to enhance the machine learning that powers AI. Soon cellphone cameras will recognize what you’re taking a photo of and adjust accordingly, and digital assistants will become better at recognizing our voices and commands.

    Industrial IOT and Factory Automation

    Ericsson and Qualcomm demonstrated the real-time benefits of 5G. With single digit latency, factories will be able to replace bundles of long Ethernet cables connecting computers to factory robots and automated equipment. This could save in equipment set-up and provide flexibility for reconfiguration.

    Cities Will Keep Getting Smarter

    Smart cities were a big talking point at MWC. Samsung demonstrated 5G use cases across stadiums, homes, cars and trains, showcasing how next-generation technology can make streets and transportation safer and more convenient. Networks and devices will provide interoperability between 4G LTE and 5G with handoffs to provide continuous service to consumers.

    AT&T showed off smart city technology as well, including light poles equipped with sensors to communicate data on weather, road conditions, air pollution, parking, or pedestrian safety.  Public safety was emphasized with sensors attached to the first responder’s clothing for safety and monitoring.

    Looking Ahead to Tokyo

    If there’s one thing we saw from PyeongChang, it’s that the potential of 5G wireless technology will drastically change the way we view and experience large events like the Olympics.

    This week Intel announced their partnership with Japanese telecommunications carrier NTT DoCoMo for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. Applications are expected include 360-degree 8K-video streams with real-time broadcasts, smart city sensors and connected cars, as well as access to rich data and analytics for athletes as they train for the Games.

    At MWC, we saw 5G use cases demonstrated for drones, skiing, ice skating, and other winter sports. 4K video and virtual reality were used extensively to showcase the immersive possibilities for sports and interactive entertainment. I even got a chance to go on a VR moon walk at the Samsung booth!

    Becoming 5G Ready

    One of the highlights for me was hearing CTIA Chairman and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure discuss the future of our industry, and how 5G is going to revolutionize our daily lives and grow our domestic economy. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray revealed an exciting plan to ready many cities for 5G this year and Sprint announced massive MIMO deployments. Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer announced Verizon’s 5G initial deployments and AT&T’s Gordon Mansfield—Vice President of RAN & Device Design—announced their initial 5G markets.

    It’s also worth noting that while the wireless industry gathered in Barcelona, a series of major 5G announcements happened in Washington, D.C. FCC Chairman Pai announced plans to conduct 28 GHz high band spectrum auctions in November 2018. NTIA Administrator David Redl said they will aggressively examine 3.45-3.55 GHz mid-band spectrum for 5G. And FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr announced the agency would propose modernizing key policies to ensure wireless infrastructure can be more rapidly and efficiently deployed. Our own SVP for Regulatory Affairs, Scott Bergman reflected on Commissioner Carr’s announcement, and what it means for America’s Race to 5G.

    It’s been a busy week for 5G. Be sure to check back next week with more 5G news and developments.

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