Mobile World Congress Parades Possibilities of 5G Wireless Tech

by Jeff Wiener on March 6, 2015

With the annual Mobile World Congress failing to deliver any real cutting edge mobile hardware this week, the mobile industry did the next best thing to wow the crowd: showcasing the limitless future of wireless technology. In particular the buzzword around the MWC this week was “5G,” as in the fifth generation of wireless technology the industry expects to be implemented by 2020. This upgrade in wireless network technology will finally usher in the future we have all been waiting for, conference speakers and industry insiders reiterated time and again, as finally 5G will deliver a comprehensive wireless experience across every facet of our lives.

“The digitisation of our economy and society is accelerating. It is unstoppable. With the Internet of Things, we see a new era of connectivity where billions of devices exchange data and instil intelligence in our everyday life. From watches to shoes. From fridges to heating. From hospitals to factories. Any industry will need to adjust to this new reality. But this requires a new generation of communication networks,” said Günther Oettinger, a member of the European Commission.

The simple point is, in five years we’ll finally have the wireless capacity to create the connected everything existence I’ve been writing about for years, one where everything talks to everything else and our phones, homes, and cars and all interconnected and managed automatically. At least that’s the promise, which I’ll say is one I’ve heard before.

“You’ll have tags on your dogs talking to devices in your home,” said Femi Adeyemi, lead mobile architect for Fujitsu. “You’ll know when your children come home. Cars on the highway will be autonomously managed.”

The bottom line is that 5G technology is what the Internet of Things truly needs to expand towards its potential, a network, analysts claim, that offers 100 to 1,000 times the network capacity of its 4G predecessor, and delivers data 66 times faster. With such an advanced network now promised in five years, it’s really not hard to imagine the possibilities, from real time decision making from our cars to videos streamed in the blink of an eye.

That’s not to say developing 5G technology is easy, or even that the industry will actually be able to deliver it on their ambitious timetable. 5G networks will require both a huge upgrade in infrastructure and a better way to employ the available spectrum, things network providers could struggle to achieve in the next 5 years.

In the end, despite the fact the MWC didn’t really give me any mind-blowing hardware releases I’m still impressed by what I saw this week, for no greater reason that the MWC has allowed me to dream, to think of what a connected everything existence might actually look like. The fact of the matter is that 5G is coming; it’s really just a matter of when.

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