Will 2020 Be the Year of 5g?

The long-awaited roll-out of the next-gen network is approaching fast.

The long-awaited arrival of 5G is just a year away, with the technology finally making the move from concept to reality in 2020. The roll-out will bring next-generation connectivity to help businesses thrive in the data-driven era and, along with never-seen-before data capacity, 5G networks will offer incredibly high speeds and high capacity.

“5G will enable a fully-mobile and connected society — unleashing human and technological possibility, and fuelling business and financial opportunity”

The technology is set to be truly transformative, offering a massive boost to mobile phone services and also enabling a wide range of new technologies and services. Some 61 per cent of consumers are already excited about the potential of speedy 5G communications, according to a recent Intel report.

5G is not just another generation of wireless connectivity – it will have an incredibly broad scope, supporting billions of connected devices and services across a wide range of industry sectors. It will enable the development and deployment of developing innovations such as IoT (Internet of Things) technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). What’s more, it will provide the backbone for the smart cities and autonomous vehicles of the future.

“5G will enable a fully-mobile and connected society — unleashing human and technological possibility, and fuelling business and financial opportunity,” said Asha Keddy, Vice President in the Technology, Systems Architecture & Client Group and General Manager of Next Generation and Standards at Intel, in an editorial.

“It will erode the boundaries between the physical and the digital to deliver personalised experiences and valuable services that will test the limits of our collective imaginations. 5G will take the industry beyond communications, bringing together wireless, computing and the cloud to create a unified technological foundation and a scalable global marketplace.”

The arrival of 5G will cause mass disruption and businesses must be prepared. The new technology will enable businesses to unlock the full potential of the cloud, which will allow them to gain new insights and to introduce new cloud-based applications. As a result, they’ll be able to provide more reliable services for customers.

A variety of trials and proof-of-concept projects has already showcased the evolution of 5G and helped businesses to prepare for its arrival. In February 2018, Intel deployed the world’s largest 5G showcase for the Olympic Winter Games* in PyeongChang. The large-scale network, which was developed in partnership with South Korean communications service provider KT*, was the first of its kind.

The aim was to power a series of immersive sporting experiences at the world-famous sporting event. As part of the activity, Intel also implemented a 5G network in a mountain village in South Korea. The project, in collaboration with KT and Finnish telecom firm Nokia*, highlighted how 5G can benefit people living in remote areas around the globe. Continuing this theme, Intel will provide 5G technologies for the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games* in Tokyo.

In another recent sporting showcase, Intel was involved in broadcasting live golf action from the 2018 US Open. Working in collaboration with AT&T*, Ericsson* and Fox Sports*, Intel streamed 4K footage over a 5G network, cutting out the need for cables strung around the course and streamlining the broadcast process.

In addition to these trials, Intel is playing a key role in developing various technologies that are vital to the future of 5G, such as 5G NR (New Radio). This is the global standard for a new interface that will form the bedrock of 5G, just as LTE did for 4G. Intel is also working with Dell*, HP*, Lenovo* and Microsoft* to bring 5G to Windows PCs with Intel® XMM™ 8000 series commercial 5G modems. The first of these 5-connected PCs are expected to arrive in the second half of 2019.

While telecoms firms arguably face their biggest challenge in the form of smooth implementation of 5G, the task for the wider business world is to ensure that they are prepared to take advantage of the new technology. For 5G to become a reality, businesses need to replace fixed-function equipment with virtualised software-defined networks. Switching to the cloud will be vital as 5G relies so heavily on virtualisation.

Though the impact of 5G will be huge, it will be gradual. Though roll-out will begin in 2020, it will take some years before the next-gen networks are commonplace. 5G connections are forecast to reach 1.2 billion by 2025, accounting for 14 per cent of the total connections at that time, according to a report from mobile technology trade association GSMA*.

“From connected cars and immersive media experiences to drones, AI-enhanced agriculture, and smart cities, we are only beginning to scratch the surface of what we can accomplish with 5G,” said Keddy. “The opportunities for incumbents to evolve, developing new lines of business and revenue, and for new market entrants to innovate, launching new products and services, are nearly endless.”

5G is set to change the way we live and work, providing both significant opportunities and challenges for businesses. While the 5G roll-out won’t happen overnight, 2020 will undoubtedly be the beginning of a new technological era.

*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others