- 5G may be the key to unlocking the full potential of IoT, says regional CTO
- Telcos must not wait for 5G, need to continue to capture market share
SWEDISH communications technology and services provider Ericsson believes that high frequency radio spectra may be more suitable for the rollout of Fifth Generation (5G) networks.
According to its Asia Pacific chief technology officer Dr Magnus Ewerbring, 5G can be deployed on either low or high frequency bands, with each having its own strengths and weaknesses.
A lower frequency radio spectrum will allow for greater indoor penetration and wider coverage. However, this spectrum – often regarded as ‘beachfront property’ by mobile operators – is scarce.
While the higher frequency spectrum is slightly weaker when it comes to indoor penetration, telcos are likely to get a wider bandwidth.
“We believe in the higher frequency bands, and we strongly recommend regulatory bodies allocate higher band spectrum [for 5G],” Ewerbring told Digital News Asia (DNA) in Petaling Jaya recently.
“We would like to see operators getting 100MHz in the high frequency bands. If that happens, that would be great,” he added.
The high frequency bands Ewerbring was referring to are those above 6GHz, with the 15GHz and 28GHz bands being suitable for 5G.
“At the same time, we also understand that there are parties that may need the spectrum too,” he said, conceding that “today, there’s a lot of usage on these bands.”
“You have operators using microwave equipment on the 30GHz band, and many countries’ military equipment is also using higher frequency bands,” he added.
Potential of 5G
Today, operators are nowhere close to launching 5G networks. In fact, 5G standards have yet to be determined. Ewerbring (pic) estimates that 5G will be commercially rolled out in 2020 only.
When launched, consumers would theoretically be able to enjoy up to 6Gbps of download speed, he said.
But does one really need mobile Internet access at those kinds of speeds?
“Go back 15 years in Internet history: Facebook wasn’t there, YouTube wasn’t there. There will be a tremendous evolution in the Internet in 15 years’ time,” said Ewerbring.
He believed that 5G technology would be able to unlock the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT).
At the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona in March, Ericsson demonstrated the ability to control an excavator remotely (over 1,000 km away) via wireless technology. It offered a glimpse of what 5G can do in heavy industries.
Ewerbring said that with the 5G technology, one is likely to get much lower latency and delays.
“It is one thing to have a connection, but if you are thinking of the production industry, process industry, automation – these things have to be very quick … because the machine needs to react quickly to do the right thing.
“If you are controlling an excavator and it is moving towards another vehicle or person, you want the excavator to stop the moment you press ‘stop’ remotely.
“5G will bring an all-improved experienced to users, and it will provide better performance that would allow adaptation into any industry segment to a much higher degree.
“We believe 5G addresses what the industry needs from the IoT,” he said.
Ewerbring also believes the take-up rate for 5G will be quicker than its predecessors, citing historical trends.
He noted that when 3G was launched in 2003, it took the industry about 7-8 years to hit the 500-million user mark. In contrast, when 4G was launched in 2009, it took about five years only for the industry to hit this same milestone.
Grab market share now!
But even with 5G expected to arrive only in 2020, telcos should not sit back and wait for the technology, and should continue to enhance and upgrade their networks.
“Telcos should continue to do what they are doing, and drive their current business,” said Ewerbring.
“By 2020, there will be about 6.1 billion smartphone users in the world. Early this year, it was already at 2.6 billion users, with half of that in Asia Pacific.
“There are tremendous growth opportunities in this area and operators need to be prepared for that,” he added.
Ewerbring also noted there will be six billion new devices connected to the Internet from 2014 to 2020, approximately one billion new IoT devices a year, according to analysts’ estimates.
“Operators need to grab market share in this – the few billion smartphone users, the new IoT devices being added,” he said.
“There’s a lot of work to be done on the operators’ side. They need to offer the right services to their customers.
“On the consumer and smartphone end, it is pretty much the business they have been doing. But for the IoT opportunities, it is a new thing.
“How does the telco please the power company? There’s a lot of business development to be done,” he stressed.
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