Tech Innovation

How 5G will power the future Internet of Things and keep you connected

Imagine taking a trip to a remote cottage in the countryside to get some work done and have a mini-holiday. Only when you arrive do you discover that there’s no Internet connection, no nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and you can’t get a signal on your smartphone for love nor money, let alone access any data services.

Today’s 3G and 4G services have their limitations.

But with future 5G technology, getting and staying connected will get much easier. That’s according to Aicha Evans, Intel’s Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Communication and Devices Group. While you’ll still need a strong provider and robust network, she believes that your devices will learn to do things like sync or pair automatically.

“I call 5G basically the fusion of all of the wireless technologies,” Evans told IQ. Ultimately, she hopes that this convergence of existing networks — 2.5G, 3G, 4G, LTE or Wi-Fi — will transform the way we communicate and interact with the world.

Currently, most wireless communications are based on single mode transmissions — you search for something, it comes back to you. You call someone, you have that communication back and forth.

With 5G technology, communications will become interactive and responsive.

Evans believes that by 2020, when 5G will come online globally, some 50 billion “things” will be connected. Think of self-driving cars that have capabilities to communicate with traffic lights, smart city sensor systems, savvy home appliances, industrial automation systems, connected health innovations, personal drones, robots and more.

All of these things will need to connect wirelessly to the Internet.

“5G will make the internet of things more effective, more efficient from a spectral efficiency standpoint,” said Evans. “Each IOT device and network will use exactly and only what it needs and when it needs it, as opposed to just what’s available.”

Today, Evans estimates that about 30 to 40 percent of the world’s population is connected in one way or another.

“We hope that over the next 10 to 20 years a hundred percent of the population will be connected,” she said. This equates to 8 or 9 billion more people demanding network capabilities.

“This is how people will get educated, this is how people will have access to information,” she said.

The current networks will not go away. They will funnel into 5G, updating along with devices and technologies. Evans predicts that transmissions that took seconds, minutes or even days to load or send will be delivered in milliseconds when 5G technology becomes available.

Aicha Evans onstage with a Tesla, which she calls a “connected device on wheels”.

How all this data is stored and managed is going to be a challenge for the industry. It’s one that Intel is tackling from and end-to-end approach, using its computing, networking and wireless communications expertise across the network.

“We think that this is going to be the underpinning of the next wave of the modern economy because there’s just going to be tons of data going around,” said Evans.

Intel partners with equipment and device manufacturers, network operators, service providers, academic institutions and others in the industry to solve key technical challenges across all of the systems.

Evans is often quoted saying, “Everything that computes connects.” As everything in our lives becomes more connected — from our fitness trackers and cars to robotic manufacturing plants and banking — our cultural landscape will change.

“The home that my kids and their grandchildren will live in is going to be totally different,” said Evans. While Evans doubts that Internet access will ever be entirely free, it will get to a point where it’s a hundred percent accessible.

“I think the capabilities enabled by 5G are going to revolutionise how we live our lives,” she said.

Learn more about 5G technology innovation at Mobile World Congress 2016.

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