When it comes to buzzwords at CES, 5G is about as big as it gets. More so than any previous generation of networking standards, it’s been heralded for its promise in unlocking countless new possibilities, like intelligent cities and self-driving cars. But how will it help drive these visions, and how will it be managed?
These questions and more were at the center of a discussion on Wednesday afternoon titled “Future of Connectivity: 5G and More.” Moderated by Brian Markwalter, senior vice president of research and standards at the CTA, the panel consisted of Alicia Abella of AT&T, Glenn Lurie of Synchronoss Technologies, Derek Peterson of Boingo Wireless, and Nadhu Nandhakumar of LG.
“For us, everything we do will be enhanced by 5G,” Lurie said. “Every G [before] has been about speed and about capacity. 5G is a use-case technology; it was built for use cases.” In addition to the aforementioned vehicular and city applications, another prominent use case is in industrial applications, where the wireless technology can allow manufacturing facilities to move beyond wired machinery for more flexibility.
Abella clarified that there are two “flavors” of 5G: 5G+ and 5G. 5G+ is a high-band spectrum service designed to provide high speeds and extra capacity, especially in dense areas, while 5G is for low-band spectrum services and provides broader coverage—and AT&T has rolled it out to 19 markets in the U.S.
Subjects covered in the session included the strategy around using edge computing for latency management, new possibilities for cloud services for carriers, and network slicing and dynamic segregation. Ultimately, despite its development with applications in mind, a great deal of its potential may yet be unknown. “Whenever these networks get built up at the next level, the consumers always find a way of getting the maximum use out of it in very innovative ways,” Nandhakumar said, citing how Netflix and YouTube streaming rose to prominence after 4G had been established. “It’s very difficult to predict everything that will happen.”