This contributed piece has been edited and approved by Network World editors
The next generation of wireless technology is closer than you think. Over the past few years, a coalition of companies, industry associations and regulatory bodies from across the globe have been working together to advance the regulatory environment, develop and test 5G technologies and establish a broad ecosystem around infrastructure and device readiness.
In 2016, we saw massive progress in the development of key components like antennas and radio chipsets. Additionally, we’ve seen the validation of core mobility technologies – including handovers and multi-cell networking – and witnessed demonstrations of multi-Gbps data rates and low-latency performance. These innovations have brought us closer to a faster, more reliable, and more capable wireless future.
When that future arrives, 5G capabilities will revolutionize our wireless networks. Mobile users will experience networks an order of magnitude faster than what we have today. Thanks to sub-millisecond air latency, the network will feel instantly responsive while simultaneously supporting ten times as many devices at significantly lower power consumption profiles. These are the foundational requirements to enable the rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT).
As we demonstrate more of the technical innovations of 5G networks, we see more implications for business. We know that next-generation 5G networks will transform companies across industries and geographies. The 5G-powered enterprise will be far less constrained by its physical office location, thanks to vastly improved service delivery capabilities that improve employee and customer engagement through enhanced business communications, new services, and IoT. It all leads to businesses that are more robust, more integrated, and more productive.
Enhanced business communications
Today, roughly 55 million people in the U.S. still do not have advanced broadband access (defined as 25Mbps downloads and 3Mbps uploads) – and about 75% of all US households only have access to a single service provider capable of delivering those service levels.[i]
Because of the geography and infrastructure in some of these environments, high-speed, low latency connectivity is only possible through a wireless connection. With Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), 5G will solve this problem and extend broadband connectivity to the businesses underserved by fiber or other broadband links.
Progress is accelerating, with a top carrier recently announcing pre-commercial customer trials of 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) in eleven cities across a range of geographies.
Through these trials, neighborhoods that have faced installation or cost challenges will have easier access to FWA-enabled network functions. With FWA, businesses will be able to improve their operations, enhance customer communications and create new applications and automation opportunities. Whether it’s a hospital, a school or a business simply seeking a reliable Internet solution, 5G promises to provide easy, fast and reliable services that will enhance productivity.
Connectivity tailored to every industry
While 5G networks will inevitably enhance pre-existing services, they will also drive new application and service capabilities to enhance businesses in every industry.
From high resolution video to next-wave content like augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), 5G network speeds will handle data-intensive applications far more smoothly. Employees won’t have to worry about lag or connectivity issues when sharing content or livestreaming conferences.
In the field, 5G powered AR will drive new opportunities for enterprises and employees. Architects and engineers, for example, will no longer need to rely on flat, two-dimensional blueprints displayed on computer screens. They’ll be able to project 3-D models directly onto their workspace, using portable devices to dynamically address evolving project challenges. Leveraging 5G networks, the wide-ranging benefits of AR and VR applications will empower industries from healthcare and retail to education and public safety.
Similarly, 5G will vastly reduce network latency rates, ensuring public and industrial safety through improved remote applications and processes. For high-risk professions such as construction, advanced manufacturing and law enforcement, lower latencies will provide more responsive interfaces for remote work while minimizing the risk of bodily harm to employees and bystanders. A manufacturing employee can control a robot remotely to complete a job in hazardous or difficult-to-reach locations. A crane operator can work on a construction site with a better awareness of pedestrians walking on a nearby street. And law enforcement officers can control a small drone to inspect a potentially dangerous location or approach an armed suspect.
Expanding capabilities with IoT’s potential
In addition, 5G networks are uniquely suited to handle the growing connectivity needs of the Internet of Things (IoT). As IoT-enabled devices start to play a larger role in daily life, enterprise networks won’t just support smart phones, laptops and tablets, they will also enable sensors, appliances, light bulbs, climate control devices, digital displays, and wearables of all kinds. Within cities, public networks will soon handle utility readers, parking meters, street lights, and fire hydrants. 5G networks will be an ideal choice to manage all of these devices since they can enable machine-to-machine communications for up to a million devices per square kilometer. And because of the network’s technical improvements, 5G will be more energy efficient than current network standards, extending the battery life for these devices.
The city of tomorrow
Because of 5G’s transformative potential, our company recently held a summit in Silicon Valley that brought together OEMs, chipset manufacturers, test equipment companies and regulatory officials to discuss the opportunities and challenges of 5G commercialization. More than 100 industry leaders joined, painting a vivid picture of 5G’s potential to transform our businesses and our cities.
Just imagine how 5G will transform the streets of your city on a Monday morning. As urban planners monitor the traffic grid through IoT connected traffic lights, drivers will no longer have to worry about traffic bottlenecks during the morning commute. As they drive, they may pass an autonomous delivery truck that seamlessly avoids traffic obstacles and road closures as it makes the morning rounds. And within each delivery truck, packages containing IoT-connected sensors will automatically notify customers as the truck approaches the delivery destination.
Multi-national enterprises, local small businesses or government agencies will provide significant enhancements with 5G networks, enabling these commercial and public operations to find new opportunities. With the power of 5G, enterprises will enter a more capable, more connected and more productive future than ever before.
About Samsung Electronics America, Inc.: Headquartered in Ridgefield Park, NJ, Samsung Electronics America (SEA), is a recognized innovation leader in consumer electronics design and technology. A wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., SEA delivers a broad range of digital consumer electronics, mobile products and wearables, wireless infrastructure, IT and home appliance products. Please visit www.samsung.com.