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5G: ubiquity in a 100% connected world

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23 June 2020

Attend concerts, meetings or sport events through immersive and holographic 3D experiences in real time, travel, study and work virtually, enjoy self-driving cars or smart cities: these are just some of the innovative applications that are about to become widespread thanks to 5G technology deployed by telecom operators around the globe.

5G is intended as the infrastructure that is to serve as the basis for future telecommunications, characterized by the combination of voice, data, and video, both in the real and in the digital sphere. This technological deployment will allow users to live fully connected to an “enhanced reality”, with unprecedented quality and efficiency rates in their professional and personal interactions.

Once the development, test, assignment of radio spectrum, and deployment of technology phases have been completed – which will probably be by the end of the current year or the beginning of the next one – the EU Member States, obviously including Spain, will have deployed their 5G networks and, therefore, the service and application marketing phase will start.

It is a reward for the work of the industry and telecom operators and multimillion-dollar investments to turn the peoples’ ubiquity dream into reality. The first pilot programs started in 2018 in countries such as Finland or the United States, where Verizon was the pioneer in its use. From that moment on, in just two years more than 133 cities around the globe have these incredibly fast information highways.

A quality leap

Given its immediateness to connect objects, besides people, the widespread use of the new 5G network will entail a quality improvement if compared to previous mobile generations (3G and 4G).

But what makes 5G different from previous mobile generations? This technology increases data transmission speed up to 20 gigabits per second, compared to 1Gbps of 4G; this enables, for example, ubiquity to be present virtually at any time and in any place. It also increases data transmission speed of large volumes of data in a bidirectional sense, enabling 8K video transmission, even in movement, as it has already been proven in pilot projects in Japan in the bullet train network of the country. Low latency or waiting times in accesses and downloads (lower than 1ms) is crucial for the remote control of activities in real time, such as, remote surgeries or self-driving cars, where for obvious reason, delays in response cannot be afforded.

Momentum to the global socio-economic development

This set of improvements will translate into benefits for everyone. It will launch digital transformation of companies, institutions and industries which, in less than two years, will have adopted 5G technology to make their processes more efficient and will open the door for structural innovation through the adoption of new technologies. Likewise, it will offer new business opportunities both for operators –who will be able to offer their customers innovative services and unimaginable applications – and for industries, who already study the deployment of private 5G networks and will obviously serve as the key to stimulate the lagging global economy.

Telecom analyst are confident that the power of the new network will create new immersive experiences, such as virtually attending cultural or sport events or enjoying shows from unbelievable angles, such as the center of the stage or the playing field. This new leisure also points to a reduction in mobility and emissions

The litmus test for 5G will be known in a few months when we will start watching sport events or music shows live and with 360º vision and 8k resolution, which is clearly unfeasible without the capacity, speed, and low latency of 5G networks.

Data will be crucial in the basis of new 5G applications

5G capacity to connect millions of devices and objects, making IoT become true, poses a challenge in terms of data analysis and processing, data that are constancy multiplying in the digital era. Analysts estimate that a self-driving car generates around 4TB of information every day, but in fact there are 50,000 million devices connected to network services, which means multiplying by six the world population, counted as 7,700 million people, according to the UN. 

This vast amount of data generated by people and devices has forced to reconsider their management. Thanks to 5G networks, which is the only infrastructure ready to massively support IoT, we have evolved to an information processing model that eliminates the need for data to travel thousands of miles to remote Data Centers, instead they are processed in the device itself or nearby. We are talking about Edge Computing, an option that offers a significant reduction in latency, as well as in the information processing and transport volumes through the network. Meanwhile and with the aim of optimizing and increasing the flexibility of 5G infrastructures, Network Slicing has been created. It allows service operators to divide a physical network into layers, as different virtual networks, to manage more efficiently the network capacity according to the demand and the quality needed for the different services.

Once technical issues are overcome, there is a new challenge ahead for the ecosystem of operators and industries that has stimulated the development and deployment of 5G technology: identifying applications and services that will offer users a new universe of attractive and disruptive experiences yet to be discovered. 

The Japanese operator NTT Docomo already works on this line and has launched a program aimed at the co-creation of new services and at the application of technologies that improve people’s lives and business processes. This program, where already 2700 companies collaborate (some of them of the standing of Yamaha, Fujitsu, or Mitsubishi) is open to participation of other companies.

Its goal is to stablish an ecosystem for the development of mobility applications which, using the immense capacities of 5G network and technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual or augmented reality, offer a series of useful tools to optimize processes and, in brief, to move towards a more collaborative, efficient, flexible and conciliatory socio-economic environment. An environment that provides progress and quality of life for all.

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