5G business case the talk of MWC

5G is fast approaching and will have a profound impact on almost every industry around the world. That’s the positive message which mobile operator’s body GSMA hope reverberates around the halls of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 26 – March 1, 2018.

MWC 2018
MWC 2018

It is estimated that within seven years there will be 1.2 billion 5G connections, covering 40% of the global population. 5G represents an opportunity for operators to create what the GSMA calls “an agile network” that can be adapted to the different needs of specific vertical industries. These “tailor-made” networks can be adapted to serve different business needs. For example, some organisations may require more bandwidth, increased security or a faster response time.

A network slice could be deployed across multiple operators and use dedicated or shared resources such as processing power, storage or bandwidth, enabling “significant” cost efficiencies, argues the GSMA.

Examples of how this could work in practice includes the live broadcast of sports or music concerts using augmented or virtual reality. This would require a multimedia broadcast services function in the 5G network, high density computing to deal with video processing, and quality of service to guarantee a good user experience.

Verizon trialled something similar at the Super Bowl 2018 when it streamed 180-degree stereoscopic video live from the Super Bowl field in Minneapolis to VR headsets in New York, as well as offering “a virtual in-stadium experience” including multiple 4K and HD video streams.

The U.S carrier has joined AT&T in confirming roll out of 5G services this year, starting by selling portable hotspots while high-speed phones are being built.

At the Winter Olympics, Intel demonstrated ‘time-sliced’ views of ice skaters captured in 4K UHD coupled with AR data and sent over 5G to spectators in VIP zones. KT, the operator which has built the pilot network, plans to begin nationwide commercial deployments in 2019.

Elsewhere in APAC, NTT DoCoMo has announced commercial deployments ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and China Mobile has also laid the groundwork for a 2020 commercial launch.

With the first commercial 5G networks in Europe due to be switched on by 2020, the GSMA forecasts that there will be 214 million 5G connections in Europe by 2025.

Deloitte said the availability of higher speeds with 5G networks “will likely reveal uses we cannot currently imagine” with “multiple ‘killer apps’”. Many will be looking for inspiration at MWC.

Posted by Adrian Pennington, technology journalist. February 15, 2018.