Did The Industry Deliver On 5G At MWC 2019?

This article originally appeared on Forbes by Anshel Sag.

This year is shaping up to be the year of 5G, with virtually every single company talking up their 5G game in one way or another. Since many of the first 5G smartphones and networks are expected to launch in 2019, MWC Barcelona 2019 was a prime opportunity for everyone to make their announcements and show off what they had been working on. Let’s take a look at what all was announced, and when to expect it.

5G modems and more

One of the fundamental aspects of 5G is the modem. Sometimes this is lost on people, but you need a good 5G modem and RF front-end to make 5G happen. Intel INTC -0.42% showed off its 8160 modem, announced in December of last year, which is due to ship at the end of this year and will be in devices next year. Qualcomm QCOM +0.41% followed up its current X50 modem (shipping in phones this quarter) with its new X55 modem, which is shipping now and will be out in devices by the end of the year. In addition to that, Qualcomm also announced it would have a next-generation smartphone SoC with an integrated modem (which it calls a mobile platform) next year. An integrated 5G modem will create significant power and space savings and should enable Qualcomm’s partners to extend their 5G leadership into 2020. Qualcomm spent most of its time and effort at MWC 19 showing off its 5G modem and using it to power real 5G demos with their partners (including OnePlus, LG, OPPO and Sony ).

There’s no question that Qualcomm has 5G modem leadership, but the 5G modem race is no longer a two-horse race. In December, MediaTek also announced its first 5G modem, the M70. At MWC, MediaTek showed off its modem and demonstrated it operationally running 5G with partners’ equipment, including Nokia . The company demonstrated a throughput of 1.1 Gbps over 3.5 GHz on 5G NR, as well as a simulated mmWave demo (since it doesn’t have a mmWave RF front-end for 5G quite yet). Using Anritsu test equipment, the mmWave demo peaked at 4.1 Gbps—comparable to what Qualcomm and Intel demonstrated at last year’s MWC.

Huawei always has a large presence at MWC, and this year was no exception. The company had its 5G modem, the Balong 5000, on display, but it was not accompanied by any 5G demos as far as I could see. Huawei made a lot of inaccurate claims about the Balong 5000 during its launch event—specifically that it was the first with a 7nm multi-mode modem and the first with NSA and SA network architecture. Neither claims are true—Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem already does these things. Huawei also claims to be the fastest on mmWave, at 6.5 Gbps, but that doesn’t beat Qualcomm’s claimed 7 Gbps. I am happy with how quickly Huawei brought a consumer 5G modem to market but making such inaccurate claims don’t help the company’s credibility with those in the know. We reached out to Huawei for comment but didn’t receive an answer by the time of publication.

While Intel did not announce any new modems at MWC 2019, it did announce its first mmWave RF Front-end module, which is what will enable Apple AAPL +1.02% and others to utilize the high frequency and high-bandwidth 5G bands of spectrum. The ability to support both mmWave and Sub-6GHz 5G is key to ensuring full 5G coverage and speeds and bringing a complete 5G device to market. The expectation is that this will be available in late 2020 to early 2021, which lines up with where I believe Intel is currently in its 5G development process. This means we most likely won’t see any PC or smartphone with Intel mmWave 5G inside until 2021. I was impressed by Intel’s live  5G Spiderman VR gaming demo at the show, but I was disappointed to see that it used the same Intel 5G hardware as the company’s first 5G NR demo from last September.

5G phones

5G phones were the primary focus of the show. Qualcomm was at the center of the 5G phone launches, with its partners (including Xiaomi , Sony, OPPO, Vivo and LG) all announcing 5G devices or prototypes for 2019 and beyond. There is still a bit of uncertainty from many manufacturers when it comes to mmWave 5G phones. Samsung without a doubt was the most confident with its Galaxy S10 5G, but those capabilities will vary by geography and by what operators have available. Many European and Asian operators are pushing for sub-6GHz 5G launches before they start talking about mmWave, which is more difficult. Korea and the US, however, appear much more prepared for mmWave, so I expect that’s where we’ll see the bulk of mmWave 5G devices.

Huawei talked up its 5G phone capabilities, taking the opportunity of the show to announce the new Mate X. Still, there was no inclination that it would necessarily be a mmWave device. In fact, on Huawei’s site, it only claims four supported 5G bands—2.5 GHz (same band as Sprint), 3.5, 3.7, and 4.7 GHz. This most likely means that Huawei’s Mate X will have slower downlink speeds than Samsung’s Galaxy Fold (also showcased at the show). Since Samsung is already showing its 5G mmWave version of the Galaxy S10, I expect that the 5G version of the Fold will have it as well (especially considering the price point Samsung is targeting).

5G beyond phones

Now that we know 5G is coming to phones in both Sub-6GHz and mmWave, the next phase is expanding the ecosystem beyond phones. After all, if 5G is going to be as omnipresent and relevant in the future as we’ve been promised, there’s going to have to be more devices than phones on 5G networks. Both Intel and Qualcomm took steps in that direction at MWC 19 in Barcelona, introducing modules that allow their 5G modems to be used in fixed wireless deployments. Intel announced a partnership with Fibocom to enable these M.2 modules and in addition to multiple gateway partners that will be upgradable to 5G.

Qualcomm announced it was creating a 5G reference design for Sub-6GHz and mmWave wireless broadband. This reference design will help operators to more easily deploy fixed wireless 5G for their customers to deliver high-bandwidth connections that utilize their new 5G networks. Companies like Verizon have already deployed fixed wireless, but not using the 5G NR standard; I expect that more operators will use these new platforms for fixed wireless from Qualcomm and Intel.

Due to the bevy of information and announcements at the show, some things slipped under the radar that are worth mentioning.  Qualcomm announced a 5G version of its 8cx SoC for PCs, which means that we should see a 5G PC powered by Qualcomm as early as this year. Qualcomm says it is shipping the 8cx 5G to customers already and will have commercial devices in late 2019. Qualcomm also announced its next generation of 4G and 5G automotive platforms with support for C-V2X and HP-GNSS (high-precision multi-frequency global navigation satellite system). The new Snapdragon Automotive 5G Platform will also support DSDA (dual SIM dual active) which enables simultaneous 4G and 5G connectivity for maximum compatibility with early cellular networks. These new automotive platforms are expected to sample later this year and ship in production vehicles in 2021. This means 2021 will likely be the earliest we’ll see 5G integrated into a car since nobody else has made any announcements in the area.

SES Networks gave us a look at the potential future of 5G deployments in rural areas with its 5G satellite capabilities. I for one am excited to see what its rapid 5G cell prototype could do for rural deployments of 5G. I believe that if governments and operators work together, they can use technologies like satellite-supported 5G to narrow the digital divide between cities and rural areas—which is wider than it likely has ever been. Currently, SES Networks offers Mobile Network as a Service Anywhere, which helps operators and cloud providers broaden their reach in rural areas with significantly less work than before.

Moving forward

The industry delivered quite a bit on what it promised with 5G at MWC 2019 and answered many of the questions we’ve had for the technology moving into the future. However, there are still some unanswered questions—specifically about what carriers’ networks will look like, what they will charge, and when we can expect true 5G networks to drive these devices to their full potential. Many operators talked about 5G deployments and supporting devices, but few of them gave specific details about what kind of performance users can expect on their devices now and into the future. This has always been a concern of mine because the expectations for 5G are already quite high—overpromising and underdelivering won’t go over well. Deploying 5G in sub-6GHz will deliver the coverage users expect and are used to but won’t provide the significant speed improvements over 4G that users are expecting. Conversely, operators launching mmWave first will be able to deliver on the high-performance claims, but coverage will initially be limited, and users will struggle to find service or stay on mmWave service for very long. The ball is now in the operators’ court—it’s their turn to deliver.

House technology committee leaders ask to postpone 5G spectrum auction

This article originally appeared on The Hill by Emily Birnbaum.

The House technology committee on Wednesday asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to postpone a 5G spectrum auction scheduled for Thursday.

Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), the chairman and ranking member of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, in letters to the five FCC commissioners, raised concerns that the spectrum for sale could interfere with technology that enables weather and climate forecasting.

The lawmakers called the spectrum auction a potential threat to “public safety,” noting that the sensors help scientists track hurricanes and predict weather patterns with greater precision.

Three federal bodies — NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Pentagon — deploy sensors that use water vapor data to analyze weather and climate patterns. Johnson and Lucas wrote that the radio frequency spectrum up for auction could interfere with signals for those sensors.

“The water vapor channel is critical to weather sensing, monitoring, forecasting and warning, and understanding climate patterns,” they wrote. “Any interferences with this channel would therefore seriously impact public safety.”

The FCC in a statement pushed back on their concerns, saying the FCC’s rule for the band in question “went through the standard interagency coordination process.”

“Tomorrow’s … auction is an important step toward securing American leadership in 5G,” Brian Hart, the head of FCC media relations, said in a statement to The Hill.

“It is, therefore, perplexing to be asked to postpone this auction the day before it is going to start,” Hart added. “The FCC will move forward as planned so that our nation can win the race to 5G and the American people can quickly enjoy the benefits of the next generation of wireless connectivity.”

Thirty-eight companies have been approved to participate in Thursday’s 5G spectrum auction, including top telecommunications companies T-Mobile and AT&T.

The auction comes as companies compete to roll out 5G wireless communications technologies, which they say will operate at exponentially higher speeds than current technology.

The tech and telecom industries have been excitedly cheerleading the introduction of 5G, touting its potentially massive economic benefits. Skeptics of the technology say it is nowhere near ready for rollout.

The FCC in November launched its first high-band 5G spectrum auction to take place in stages over the next 15 months. The top telecommunications companies are competing to acquire spectrum.

The “OK, So What Exactly Is 5G?” Syllabus

This article originally appeared on The Ringer by Victor Luckerson.

Do you get excited when you hear the THX Deep Note sound effect before a film, even though you don’t know what THX means, does, or even stands for? If so, read on, because you may be at risk of buying an overpriced 5G-enabled smartphone for no discernible reason.

Let’s start with the basics. “5G” stands for fifth generation, as in fifth generation wireless technology. Every decade or so, a couple of groups that have extremely long names—the International Telecommunication Union and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project—develop new standards for wireless communication that are implemented globally. Each new standard means faster web browsing speeds, reduced latency, and the ability to connect more devices to a network at the same time. In other words, the internet becomes more responsive for a greater number of people. We’re currently due for an upgrade, which is why you’re starting to see commercials that make building cellphone towers seem patriotic and sponcon explainers trying to sell you on the limitless possibilities of really, really fast internet.

Every new “G” has a bigger impact than the last as more human activity shifts online. 5G will bring with it emergent technologies, geopolitical intrigue, and, of course, deceptive advertising by your least favorite wireless carrier. Here are the steps you should take to get ready for the 5G revolution. (Step 1: Don’t call it a revolution.)

If you want to learn more about the OG (and 2G, 3G, and 4G): Wired’s guide to 5G offers a summation of how we got here. In short, 1G brought us cellular voice calls, 2G brought texting, 3G brought fast web browsing, and 4G brought data-intensive navigation services like Uber.

If you want to see some of the sci-fi stuff 5G will make possible: CNET has a list of “7 incredible things you can do with 5G,” which is mostly stuff that companies have been promising to do with 4G, such as ushering in a new wave of delivery drones, driverless cars, and advances in virtual reality. 5G should make these use cases more viable. For more cutting-edge uses, check out this CBS News storyabout the 5G connectivity lab that Verizon built in New York to give startups the chance to experiment with lightning-fast internet. Among the new ideas developed there is “volumetric video,” which utilizes dozens of cameras to create 360-degree holograms of people or environments. This tech has been used to create immersive film sets and holographic runway models, but 5G could allow it to be implemented at scale by a variety of businesses and individual creators. 5G will also be a boon for the decade’s most annoying buzzword, “The Internet of Things,” because it will allow more devices to access wireless networks at the same time. Smart toaster owners, rejoice.

If you like to live every week like it’s infrastructure week: Read this New York Times feature on the battle between cities and wireless carriers over the construction of new 5G cell stations. 5G is faster than previous wireless networks but has a much shorter range, which means that companies like Verizon and AT&T are in the process of building hundreds of thousands of refrigerator-sized boxes to ensure wide and consistent cellular coverage. That’s frustrating some communities that don’t want bulky cell stations in their neighborhoods or feel that the telcos aren’t paying enough to take over public land. There are also concerns about exposure to cellular radiation causing health problems, but no conclusive evidence has proved that wireless networks are dangerous.

If you want to know when your carrier is getting 5G: Android Authority has individual rollout timelines for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. But the short answer is that all four companies are hyping up the benefits of 5G at the same time they build out their networks, and they’re nowhere close to being completed. You can generally expect limited 5G coverage in major cities by the end of 2019 and the beginnings of a nationwide network sometime in 2020. However, most phones on the market today won’t be compatible with 5G networks.

If you want a 5G phone right now: The Verge has a list of the 5G phones that have been announced so far, though again, we’re still a long way from nationwide coverage.

If you’re an iPhone owner used to getting new features years after they are invented: Expect a 5G (foldable?) iPhone in 2020 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg.

If you want to know how 5G could be used to undermine American interests:Read this Vox backgrounder on the beef between the United States and Huawei, the Chinese tech giant that builds the networking equipment that will be used in the 5G rollout. The White House and intelligence agencies believe that Huawei could one day use 5G as a Trojan horse to hack America’s connected devices at scale, at the bidding of the Chinese government. Read this Bloomberg story about Huawei’s critics to get a full taste of the doomsday, Order 66 scenario: “Think of self-driving cars that suddenly mow down unsuspecting pedestrians. Think of drones that fly into the intakes of airliners.” These worries have prompted President Donald Trump’s administration to float the idea of nationalizing the 5G network and taking it out of the control of companies such as Huawei, AT&T, and Verizon. Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who coined the term net neutrality, outlines the pros and cons of such a drastic decision.

If you want to know how much this world-changing technology is going to cost you: Check out this Fortune interview in which a T-Mobile executive promises that the company’s 5G data plans won’t cost any more than its current ones. This, of course, is a feint. If people want to download more Netflix movies or stream video games on their phones, they’ll have to buy larger data plans to make use of 5G’s benefits. And identical pricing is hardly guaranteed. CNET rounded up some examples of telco executives using a lot more weasel words when it came to pricing plans.

If you’re curious about the downsides of 5G: In the very same CBS News clip in which a startup founder hypes volumetric video, he admits that someone could use the technology to manipulate a rendering of a person’s body parts against his or her will. It’s easy to imagine 5G increasing the proliferation of videos that put celebrities’ faces on the bodies of porn stars, which unfortunately is already a thing. And a faster internet may only mean that we arrive at the destabilizing impacts of technology on society—such as AI-powered job displacement, social isolation caused by VR, and increased traffic caused by self-driving cars—faster than we would have otherwise.

If you’re actually looking for less internet rather than a symbiotic connection between your phone and your brain: Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill and The New York Times’s Kevin Roose recently wrote about their efforts to cut technology out of their lives. The world may be more connected than ever and moving at an alarmingly fast rate, but unplugging remains a viable option.

The Internet Of Things Is Creating The Smart Cities Of Tomorrow

This article originally appeared on Forbes by Tracey Welson-Rossman.

Millions of  new devices are estimated to connect to the Internet every second. The installed base of the Internet of Things (IoT) is forecast to grow to between 25-30 billion devices by 2020. Spending for the IoT economy is expected to range into the trillions over the next ten or more years.

Against this backdrop, the Smart Cities of tomorrow are taking shape. They take advantage of the devices in our homes and businesses and the data they create to enhance the quality of life for the people living and working within them.

The demand for smart city solutions is expected to reach $2.57 billion worldwide 2025, driving by factors such as growing urban populations, the need to better manage limited natural resources, and an increased emphasis on environmental sustainability.

Ellen Hwang is the Smart City Director/Assistant Director of Strategic Initiatives for the City of Philadelphia, part of the city’s team tasked with managing its technology infrastructure, planning, and policy. In this role, she is responsible for Philadelphia’s technology related governance, policy, program development, and capacity building.

As a Philadelphia resident and the co-founder of a technology business as well as two tech-related non-profits in the city, I’ve had a front row seat to its tech efforts. The city has made incredible advances in the way it leverages and advances tech, even receiving  a “smart city readiness” grant from the Smart Cities Council in 2017. The grant included in-kind financial support from the Council to host a stakeholder event to kick-off the development of the develop a roadmap for applying smart technologies.

Much of this is attributable to Hwang and her leadership in creating and executing the city’s technology roadmap. Her focus is less on end-technologies and more about evaluating how the tech can improve the lives of residents, serve economic development efforts, and advance other civic purposes. Over the years, innovative technologies have been applied in a number of ways ranging from public safety to transportation to energy efficiencies to bridging the digital divide and beyond.

Interestingly, Hwang told me that she did not originally see herself using technologies other than email. From an early age, she saw herself connecting with people and coming up with new ideas, but in low tech ways like whiteboarding and actually interviewing people in person or over the phone.

Similarly, her path to working for Philadelphia was not exactly planned, but she has loved the city since she was a little girl. She always knew where she would be but not what she would be doing.

After majoring in English at Temple University, she took a gap year to study for the LSATs. That experience and some local networking during that year led her to urban planning school versus a career in law. While there, she worked at a community development nonprofit organization and later made the transition into City government, in a position called  “municipal innovation.” She confided to me that she had no idea at the time what that meant, but was open to it and liked the sound of it.

Hwang explained that her job involves having both soft and technical skills. Technically, Hwang needs a deep understanding of data: how to craft data related strategies, discern good data, and how to build infrastructure in service to a larger solution. Beyond tech capabilities, she has to design solutions with an understanding of the people they will serve, create broader and human related goals for her department, and use technology in a practical manner – not just for the sake of using technology. And lest we forget, she has to pitch her solutions to a broad audience of policy makers and citizens before actually implementing them.

As a discipline, Hwang says that Smart City professionals are trained in urban planning. The goal is to seamlessly integrate technology into the daily aspects of a city and ensure that all the systems come together. One has to consider how tech and innovation coexist while understanding the realistic barriers.

She explains that Smart Cities are an opportunity to be strategic. It’s more than sensors and IoT. It’s an opening to interact within a larger world and create a vision for how tech can solve for and accomplish goals on behalf of a municipality. This involves broader, human related goals that are ultimately more important than just the use of technology.

Hwang attributes her success to an innate ability to navigate the complexities of people, place and process. She says that she is naturally a “systems thinker” that loves exploring and understanding how everything connects. This aligns well with her job where she has to account for a wide range of diverse stakeholders, each with her own unique needs and interest. Into this mix, she also has to consider the physical opportunities and constraints of a city like Philadelphia.

Hwang says that designing for a Smart City is fun because it integrates so many technical areas of expertise: data infrastructure and systems, networking and communications planning, transportation and mobility, healthcare, and more. She enjoys creating efficiencies across the municipality or deploying solutions where people normally do not reach, like sewage, lighting or dangerous areas.

While she doesn’t think municipal government is for everyone, Smart City as a larger industry is a fascinating and incredibly exciting space that ties together the interests and expertise of all kinds of people. Ultimately, it’s about solving problems in everyday challenges and leveraging technology to tackle those challenges.

Hwang also believes that more women should be in the disruptive technology space because there is a shared understanding that “failing” is a part of being in the innovation sector.  She believes more women should be open to and welcome this idea that “failing” is not bad and be confident in who we are both in and despite our failures. Rather than striving for perfection, women should strive to become true leaders who are unafraid of sticking up for the ideas and solutions they believe in.

5G is barely here and some people, not just President Trump, are talking about 6G

This article originally appeared on CNBC by Elizabeth Schulze.

President Trump isn’t the only one talking about 6G.

Trump sent a series of tweets last month mentioning 6G, saying he wanted to see the technology alongside 5G in the U.S. “as soon as possible.”

The tweets created a stir because 5G, the fifth-generation wireless network that promises super-fast speeds for consumers and businesses, is just now starting to roll out in some parts of the world, while 6G technology doesn’t actually exist yet.

But at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Barcelona last week, 6G wasn’t such a far-fetched idea for some industry experts.

“There will be a 6G,” Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri told CNBC’s Karen Tso last week in Barcelona. “We at Nokia Bell Labs are already starting to imagine what that 6G will look like and what the use cases might be.”

To be clear: 6G technology is far from being a reality. Suri said Nokia spent more than ten years researching 5G, adding its practical applications are just starting to show up for consumers and companies. GSMA Intelligence, a research firm, estimates 5G will account for only 15 percent of mobile connections globally by 2025.

“It is the right time to be researching on 6G but not the right time to be productizing anything related to 6G,” Nokia’s Suri said.

Mehdi Bennis is an associate professor at the University of Oulu in Finland who started researching 6G last year. The university will be hosting its first “6G Summit” later this month in Finland to start identifying the challenges and technical requirements of the technology. In an interview at MWC last Wednesday, Bennis said the first 6G networks will be at least 10 years away.

“Standardization will not start before 2028, so currently we are at the very beginning setting the stage for what are the requirements for this generation,” he said.

As for how 6G might be different from previous wireless networks, Bennis speculated it would be even faster, with higher frequencies and seamless interactions between computers and machines.

5G is touted as a technology that will transform industries like autonomous vehicles, health care and manufacturing by enabling machines to communicate with very little lag time. Regulations and technical requirements around 5G are still being determined in various countries around the world. One issue is a lack of available spectrum, which refers to the radio frequencies allocated to wireless networks.

“5G is a packaging of the latest technologies and it’s very valuable in the sense of it brings a lot of innovation, but the needs are intrinsic regardless of 5G or 6G or 4G,” said Iyad Tarazi, CEO of Federated Wireless, a U.S.-based startup that is trying to make more spectrum available through airwaves used by the U.S. military.

Most industry experts at MWC, including telecom CEOs and regulators, agreed getting 5G, not 6G, networks up and running is the priority for now.

“I’m still curious to see exactly what 5G will bring first,” Lucilla Sioli, director of artificial intelligence at the European Commission, told CNBC last week.

How 5G Networks Will Change America

This article originally appeared on Forbes by Miriam Tuerk.

One of the hottest topics at Mobile World Congress this week is 5G networks. The benefits are being widely touted by network providers: faster download speeds on cellular networks, and support for new technologies such as self-driving cars. The size and number of the “small cells” which power 5G also means that they will be placed anywhere in streets and buildings. It is going to be the biggest shift in telecommunications since the invention of the cellphone.

Most of the major U.S. networks have already announced plans for 5G networks, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. Service and infrastructure providers like American Tower (which announced its Q4 2018 earnings today) are rolling out new 5G infrastructure to support this. American Tower’s new “Smart Pole,” an attractive street-level smart pole, will extend its service footprint from 57,000 telecom towers, to hundreds of thousands of Smart Poles that will support tomorrow’s 5G networks.

The potential disruption for this technology goes far beyond being able to watch movies on your iPhone. 5G is what will really kick the Smart City infrastructure into high gear, which will revolutionize America, driving new service and industries. For investors, this is a huge opportunity over the next 5 – 10 years.

Realizing The Potential Of 5G Networks

Telecom companies face the constant need to invest in new infrastructure, while staying competitive on cellphone costs for customers. To truly realize the potential of 5G networks, telecom operators must find cost-effective ways to roll out 5G that won’t increase the end-cost to the consumer.

While 5G small cells are wireless, one cable remains: the power cable. That cable is very expensive. Long distances in rural areas and concrete in urban areas increase the cost of connecting to the electric grid. To achieve maximum benefit, 5G networks need to cut that last cord and be wirelessly powered. Otherwise, the 5G rollout will be too costly and slow. Construction disruption will impact our cities. Remote and rural areas will still be surfing on slow speeds and will fall even further behind in the digital revolution.

By powering 5G telecom infrastructure using wireless power, such as solar-driven systems that are reliably managed via remote cloud-based controls, these poles can be installed in more locations and at a much lower cost. There is no need for major construction or involvement of the power company. This lower cost makes it more economically viable for telecom providers to install 5G in both rural and urban areas. This not only provides a greater market share for networks and telecom providers, but improves connectivity for remote communities.

How 5G Can Reinvigorate Rural America

One of the biggest societal challenges currently facing America is the rural-urban divide. While urban centers on the West and East coasts have flourished over the past decades, living standards in more rural areas have fallen.

According to the Federal Reserve, 83% of 25 – 54 year olds in urban areas were employed at the end of 2018, whereas in rural areas it was lower than 80%. Many of the manufacturing jobs that rural America used to rely on are already on the way out, or are likely to be made obsolete by artificial intelligence over the next decade.

Connectivity across the entire country, along important transportation corridors, across farmland, and other key business centers, will deliver the promise of revitalizing these dying communities.

5G wireless will give businesses and individuals greater access into the digital economy, thereby providing new opportunities in industries where there are a growing number of jobs. By removing this infrastructure barrier, small and medium-sized businesses may choose to relocate away from larger urban centers, to where they can find real estate and hire a workforce at a lower capital cost to the business.

5G will also improve services in these communities by driving the adoption of Smart City infrastructure. Rural street lamps, which are often uneconomical for local governments to maintain, will be powered by solar and monitored via 5G wireless networks for outages – which will ensure that they stay switched on. Security cameras will help to prevent crimes in rural areas where police resourcing is often limited, for instance, the dumping of hazardous waste, theft of crops or timber, and poaching.

Wireless 5G will also change the way our cities and towns look. Drive down any street today, and you see telecom wires hanging from wooden poles carrying cable TV and internet services into homes. They blot the landscape and are difficult and costly to maintain. It only takes a storm for a few trees to fall down, and a whole community can be without power or Internet for days. With 5G, these wires will be replaced by simple, discrete poles, each placed 100 – 200 meters apart.

Growth In New Industries

5G presents a huge business opportunity in the telecoms market. The companies set to benefit most from this revolution are the telecom infrastructure companies, or cell tower REITs, which own cell towers and rent space on them to the network providers like AT&T or Verizon. Crown Castle International and American Tower currently own 40 – 60,000 tower sites each in the U.S. The latter has already formed an alliance with Phillips Lighting to create its Smart Pole; an LED street lights embedded with 4G, which will eventually become 5G.

At the same time, the delivery of Smart City infrastructure presents new revenue opportunities. New market entrants are looking at ways to monetize the sidewalk. Cities will also look to monetize smart infrastructure and services as a way to offset their operating costs.

As every big change creates disruption, so too can they present threats to incumbents. Today’s telecoms giants may not retain their market share. Technology upstarts are already looking at ways to disrupt the telecoms market, for instance, BRCK, an African startup backed by Steve Case is offering free public Wi-Fi in Kenya. At the same time, with the cost and size of the infrastructure for telecom reduced through wireless, network companies and internet providers might forego renting space from a cell tower REIT and start to build their own, independent 5G networks.

If these 5G networks are powered by off-grid solar, then solar manufacturers will see an increase in demand. The energy demand for most IoT devices today is low enough that they can be reliably powered by solar. For instance, today a security camera only requires 7W of power, compared to perhaps 200W back in the analog days. Remote control of these devices through 5G networks means that they can be managed to reduce power consumption, preserving energy. This will make Smart City infrastructure more reliable than traditional infrastructure.

What is clear is that management of these devices will be critical to the reliability of the network. With tens of thousands of devices, there needs to be a way to monitor and manage wireless 5G infrastructure. This presents an opportunity for Software-as-a-Service cloud-computing companies like Microsoft Azure to provide automated, AI-driven management services to not only manage the 5G networks, but the millions of IoT devices that this technology will provide a foundation for.

20 years ago, no one could have imagined the impact that cell phones would have on our daily lives, businesses and economy. Today, they are once again major drivers of change. I think that the next major disruptive opportunity will come from 5G in changing the way we connect and power our communities.

5G Is Going to Be an Incredibly Tough Sell in 2019

This article originally appeared on Gizmodo by Sam Rutherford.

While the avalanche of announcements may have made it seem otherwise, today officially marks the first day of Mobile World Congress 2019, and aside from all the ambitious, weird, and sophisticated new handsets on display at the show, without a doubt the other big topic for the show is 5G.

By now almost all the major carriers have already started deploying 5G networks, and with the announcement of the Galaxy S10 5G, a new 5G modem from Qualcomm, and even more 5G-ready phones to follow at MWC, it sort of feels like we’re reaching a critical mass for 5G momentum.

5G is supposed to mark the 5th generation of mobile communication, and with it, tech companies have been making lofty promises about what cell networks could offer in the not-too-distant future. We’re talking about mobile data speeds potentially in excess of one Gbps, latencies of less than five or 10 milliseconds, and networks robust enough to handle the quickly growing number of IoT devices.

But before anyone goes HAM on a 5G tech spending spree this year, there are three big things that have me feeling bearish on 5G between now and 2020.

5G is barely available

The first problem is the limited availability of 5G networks. It’s true that depending on where you live, you might be lucky enough to have 5G coverage in your area. If you look at the list of cities with 5G coverage, outside of places like New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and a handful of metro areas in Texas, there’s very little 5G signal to be found. (Just take a look at these maps for a general sense of where 5G coverage is really at.) In fact, right now Sprint doesn’t have 5G coverage of any kind and will be starting from scratch when it launches 5G in nine markets beginning as soon as May.

AT&T is doing a bit better with 12 cities that have 5G coverage of some kind. But if you read carefully, it’s important to note that even AT&T says 5G+ (which is AT&T’s nonsense term for real 5G) is only “available in select areas” within these locations. Translation: You shouldn’t anticipate reliable 5G coverage even if you’re in these places. So you’ll need to figure out if your home is covered as well as other places you frequently visit to ensure you get the full 5G experience.

Verizon started its push into 5G late last year when it introduced what are essentially 5G hotspots meant to be used in homes, while also building out its mobile infrastructure in preparation for the arrival of 5G-ready phones in 2019. Currently, Verizon’s in-home 5G is available in “limited areas” or LA, Sacramento, Houston, Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, due to T-Mobile’s disdain for Verizon and AT&T’s 5G pucks, the carrier chose to skip making 5G hotspots and instead deploy 5G on its 600 MHz spectrum in a smattering of cities. In contrast to the millimeter wave 5G installations favored by AT&T and Verizon, T-Mobile’s low-band 5G offers better range and signal penetration into buildings. However, those benefits come with the downside that low-band can’t quite hit the one Gbps data speeds or super fast latency that a lot of people think of in regards to the potential benefits of 5G. And while the company has pledged to bring 5G to 30 cities by the end of the year, even T-Mobile itself admits it won’t have nationwide 5G until 2020.

5G phones will be way too expensive

The second concern for 5G is all the money you’ll need to spend upgrading your tech. Unless you are the unicorn that bought a Moto Z3 last year hoping to be the first kid on the block with a 5G mod, anyone even thinking about trying out mobile 5G will need to buy a new phone. That’s means at minimum, you’re looking at spending at least $500 on a new phone, plus whatever the cost of the Moto 5G mod will be.

Alternatively, if you’re thinking about buying a more “traditional” 5G-ready phone that doesn’t need separate attachments, consider this: Back in December, OnePlus founder Carl Pei said that he expects the company’s upcoming 5G phone to command a $200-$300 premium over a normal 4G LTE phone. That’s a lot of extra dough to spend on a phone for somewhat nebulous benefits.

Meanwhile, even though Samsung listed prices for the new $750 Galaxy S10E, $900 S10, $1,000 S10+, and the painfully expensive $2,000 Galaxy Fold, Samsung did not provide pricing for the Galaxy S10 5G. But if we do some rough math and use the S10+ $1,000 price tag as a starting point, and then factor in the S10 5G’s giant 6.7-inch screen, its two depth-of-flight cameras, and its all-important 5G modem and antennas, we’re looking at a phone that could easily cost $1,500 or more.

It’s a sort of similar situation for LG’s V50 5G because even though it was announced, neither LG nor Sprint (the V50’s first 5G carrier) has announced pricing for the phone. Additionally, it seems like phone makers know these phones will be hard to move based purely on the inclusion of 5G, so both LG and Samsung added things to their 5G phones like depth-sensing cameras or a dual-screen accessory to help increase their value.

In short, anyone thinking about getting a 5G phone in 2019 will need to have more than $1,000 to burn, and that’s not even considering if 5G phone plans will likely cost more than normal, which is something carriers haven’t talked about yet.

5G’s coolest applications don’t exist yet

Finally, for most people, the speed isn’t worth it. At least not yet. That’s because one of the promises of 5G is the ability to have all sort of devices like drones, cars with cell connections, TVs, and more, all connected to each other all the time so that they can communicate on a super fast wireless network. The problem is that all those various 5G-devices and 5G apps don’t really exist yet.

Right now, if you were to have a 5G phone attached to a 5G network functioning at peak speeds, what would that actually give you? You could probably download a ton of movies and music real quick, but if you’re thinking about streaming, it’s not like there’s an abundance of 4K content to watch.

At Samsung’s booth at MWC, the company demoed an S10 5G running off of what was purportedly a live 5G network that was displaying a stream of an MLB game where you could control the video feed from a number of different cameras. It’s a neat application of the massive bandwidth 5G offers, allowing you to switch from the camera behind home plate to one pointed at first base. But the app was a one-off creation, not something any baseball fan can get just by purchasing a 5G phone.

And with the possibility of sub 10ms latency on 5G, you might be able to play multiplayer games like PUBG, or Smash Bros or Apex Legends (via mobile tethering) with the same kind of lag-free experience you get on wi-fi at home. But that’s about it. The power of the so-called 5G revolution only happens when every device can tap into those kinds of speeds, not just a single device.

As far as 2019 goes, the main groups that might be able to use mobile 5G effectively are businesses that can take advantage of all that bandwidth to send massive files securely back and forth between various off-site locations.

5G is still the future

Now all this doesn’t mean I’m down on 5G, as the tech has tons of future potential. Testing out new tech is fun, and being an early adopter gives you first-hand experience observing how new platforms ecosystems develop over time. But for 2019, it’s important to realize what mobile 5G really is: a glorified beta test. At best, it’s like pre-ordering something or funding a Kickstarter, both of which are moves fueled more by hopes and dreams than anything based in reality.

So if you’re someone with spare cash lying around, and you are curious about 5G—or are the kind of person who likes posting “First” in YouTube videos—go ahead, dive into 5G. But for everyone else, you’ll save a bunch of money by waiting, and with 5G adoption rates for phones only expected to hit 0.4 percent in 2019, you won’t miss out on much either.

Why You Should Adopt the Internet of Things

This article originally appeared on IoT Evolution by Charles Dearing.

You approach your front door, you tap the screen of your smartphone and hear the door unlock. When you walk into your house, your home is illuminated by your favorite shade of blue. Your smart toaster automatically toasts you your perfect after work bagel. Pandora hums relaxing music through your smart TV. Walking down the hall, your floors warm to your feet. You face your smart mirror to check for any updates to your calendar as you listen to tomorrow’s weather forecast.

All of this is accomplished through the Internet of Things. Truly, the Internet of Things is ready to make your home a technological wonderland.

Why the Internet of Things technology is here to stay
Luckily, there is more to the technology than perfect bagels and moody lighting. IoT goes beyond mere indulgence, although having a smart home equipped with cutting-edge smart devices is a delight to interact with on a daily basis, IoT can do far more.

“IoT is transforming the everyday physical objects that surround us into an ecosystem of information that will enrich our lives,” reads the esteemed PricewaterhouseCoopers report. “From refrigerators to parking spaces to houses, the IoT is bringing more and more things into the digital fold every day, which will likely make the IoT a multi-trillion-dollar industry in the near future.”

The overarching goal of IoT is to make us more efficient, more effective and more productive as individuals, groups, and communities. On the tech side, it is the idea of a uniformly connected world of devices that can access the internet and communicate at will.

This allows for transparent data sharing and constant application feedback which directly results in more cohesive and better-made programs. In this article, we will explore the reasons why IoT is worth adopting and why it could change everything from stuffy corporate offices to co-ed college campuses.

The Internet of Things technology is a dream worth believing
“The proliferation of devices with communicating-actuating capabilities is bringing closer the vision of an Internet of Things,” says Jayavardhana Gubbi in a study about future generations of computing, “where the sensing and actuation functions seamlessly blend into the background, and new capabilities are made possible through access of rich new information sources.

The power of IoT will only grow as computing power and devices proliferate. In kind, the computing power of individual smart devices will continue to expand the abilities and capabilities of each smart device. And as capabilities expand and connectivity increases, the potentiality for smart companies, smart cities, and smart homes increases exponentially.

“The evolution of the next generation mobile system will depend on the creativity of the users in designing new applications,” continues Gubbi. “IoT is an ideal emerging technology to influence this domain by providing new evolving data and the required computational resources for creating revolutionary apps.”

IoT is truly the next step in the information age. The Internet of Things could change our everyday lives, our everyday work, and our everyday communities. Think of the relief of not having to worry about what is in the refrigerator or if your stove is on while you are at work. IoT seeks to give your day back by bringing everything under your control to a single location.

The technology will put your life at your fingertips as your smartphone becomes the main hub for the rest of your world. IoT is not just a simple idea, but, is already a major part of our lives. The industry will balloon to new heights with this tech and will allow for fair and equal access to the inherent around the world. You do not want to be caught unprepared for the technological revolution that will change our lives soon.

“The Internet will disappear,” said Google chairman Eric Schmidt. “There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”

Cisco expects just 422 million 5G connections by 2022

This article originally appeared on ZD Net by Natalie Gagliordi.

A new mobile traffic report from Cisco suggests that data levels will balloon globally by 2022 to an annual run rate close to a zettabyte, but with little expected impact from 5G. In its updated Mobile Visual Networking Index (MVNI): Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, Cisco projects consumer and business mobile data traffic will reach 930 exabytes annually by 2022, with only about 3 percent of total mobile connections occurring over 5G’s upgraded high-speed networks.

The prediction lines up with the 5G’s slow crawl of a rollout globally. Overall, Cisco said there will be more than 12 billion mobile-ready devices and IoT connections by 2022, with just 422 million connections coming from 5G devices.

Connections to both 5G device users and machine-to-machine systems will account for only about 12 percent of global mobile data traffic, according to Cisco. Nonetheless, Cisco’s report highlights an upcoming shift from small-scale 5G trial environments to some larger-scale commercial deployments. The company also expects the technology to bring enhanced power efficiency, cost optimization and IoT connection density.

“There has been considerable hype and hoopla around 5G over the past few years, particularly regarding its potential performance enhancements,” wrote Thomas Barnett, director of thought leadership in Cisco’s worldwide service provider marketing group. “With the potential to support exceed 1 Gbps (in the future) and ultra-low latency, 5G’s performance is anticipated by many to be a real game changer in mobile technology. By 2022, we believe 5G’s initial impact will be measurable and significant.”

In terms of mobile speeds, Cisco expects that network capabilities will increase more than three-fold from 8.7 Mbps in 2017 to 28.5 Mbps by 2022, driven in part by 5G. Meantime, Cisco projects that mobile networks will support more than eight billion personal mobile devices and four billion IoT connections within three years. Mobile video is also on the rise and will represent 79 percent of global mobile data traffic by 2022, Cisco said.

“As global mobile traffic approaches the zettabyte era, we believe that 5G and WiFi will coexist as necessary and complementary access technologies, offering key benefits to our enterprise and service provider customers to extend their architectures,” said Jonathan Davidson, SVP and GM of Cisco’s service provider business.

WiFi will remain the way most people connect to the internet for some time to come, according to Cisco. The company predicts that 59 percent of total mobile data traffic will flow through WiFi networks, compared with 54 percent in 2017. Total IP traffic is expected to be 29 percent wired, 51 percent WiFi, and 20 percent mobile.

America’s fight with Huawei is messing with the world’s 5G plans

This article originally appeared on CNN by Michelle Toh.

The US-led offensive against Chinese tech firm Huawei is creating big problems for mobile operators as they start building the next generation of wireless networks.

The United States is trying to persuade other countries not to allow Huawei equipment into new superfast 5G networks because it claims the gear could be used by the Chinese government for spying.

Huawei strongly denies the accusations. And it has already built up such a strong lead in 5G technology that it’s practically irreplaceable for many wireless carriers that want to be among the first to offer the new services.

“Banning Huawei will create a vacuum that no one can fill in a timely fashion and may seriously impair 5G deployments worldwide,” said Stéphane Téral, a mobile telecom infrastructure expert at research firm IHS Markit. The uncertainty is particularly problematic for Europe, where Huawei was expected to play a key role in building 5G networks that the region’s leaders say are vital for its economic future.

The international rollout of 5G has become a front line in the broader clash over advanced technology between the United States and China that is reshaping the relationship between the world’s top two economies.

The United States doesn’t have a heavyweight global competitor to Huawei in telecommunications equipment. The Chinese firm’s biggest rivals are Ericsson (ERIC) of Sweden and Nokia (NOK) of Finland. But they have struggled for years with losses and job cuts while Huawei has powered ahead, generating annual revenue of more than $100 billion, building a strong base in China and amassing intellectual property that will help determine the future of 5G.

Unhappy mobile operators

Some top international mobile operators are warning that by shutting Huawei out of 5G networks, countries risk undermining their own tech capabilities.

The new wave of wireless communications is expected to increase internet speeds as much as 100 times compared with 4G networks, and help power emerging technologies like smart cities and connected vehicles.

Vodafone’s (VOD) CEO Nick Read cautioned last month that a complete ban on all Huawei gear would substantially delay the availability of 5G. The mobile carrier has suspended the installation of the Chinese company’s equipment in core networks in Europe while it speaks with authorities and the company.

In August, Vodafone slammed the Australian government’s decision to ban Huawei from providing 5G technology for networks there, saying the move “fundamentally undermines Australia’s 5G future.”

UK telecom group BT’s chief architect, Neil McRae, put the situation in stark terms late last year.

“There is only one true 5G supplier right now, and that is Huawei,” he said at an industry event in London. “The others need to catch up.”

BT (BT) said in December that it won’t include Huawei equipment in the heart of its planned 5G network, but will continue to use it for areas that are considered “benign,” like the radio masts that connect wireless devices with the core network.

The head of BT’s consumer brands told CNN Business last week that Huawei had given him no “cause for concern” over the years.

But British officials have security concerns, and Huawei has promised to spend $2 billion to address them. In a letter last month to UK lawmakers, the Chinese company warned that the process will take three to five years to have tangible results, likening it to “replacing components on a high-speed train in motion.”

Huawei’s rivals may be a year behind

The situation should have Ericsson and Nokia cheering, but experts say the two companies may not be very well positioned to capitalize on Huawei’s difficulties.

“It goes without saying that other leading vendors stand to benefit in the short-term,” according to analysts at Dell’Oro Group, a market research firm that specializes in telecoms infrastructure analysis.

Ericsson and Nokia both declined to comment on their competitors. Instead, they touted their advancements on 5G in statements to CNN Business.

Nokia claims it holds “the industry’s only end-to-end 5G portfolio that is available globally,” while Ericsson said it has publicly announced more 5G contracts with operators “than any other vendor.”

But Huawei claims its 5G technology is at least a year ahead of its rivals — and many experts agree.

“From my conversations with carriers, they’ve found that Huawei is far more advanced than the other two right now,” said Dexter Thillien, a senior tech analyst at research firm Fitch Solutions.

The battle for Europe

Executives at Nokia and Ericsson may also be treading carefully in public for fear of angering the Chinese government and being cut off from its vast market. Nokia, in particular, employs about 15,000 people in China, more than double its headcount of 6,000 in its home country of Finland.

“Their presence there is very, very important for them,” Thillien said. “So I don’t think they’ll go publicly and go and say things like, ‘Pick us, because we’re European and we’re more secure.'”

Even if governments don’t block Huawei outright, the possibility of restrictions is casting a shadow over the Chinese company as mobile operators make investment decisions.

“It’s probably better technologically — but technology’s only one side of the argument,” Thillien said. He pointed to Europe as “the big battle right now” for Huawei.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week that “there are big discussions about Huawei” in her country. “We need to talk to China to ensure that companies do not simply give up all data that is used to the Chinese state,” she said, adding that “safeguards” were needed.

“This situation has created a big bump in Europe’s 5G roadmap, while other regions like the Middle East, Africa and Latin America are watching closely,” Téral said.

“In the meantime, China and the US are chugging along” with their own rollouts, he added.

The race for 5G

Researchers have good reason to believe in Huawei’s technical prowess.

It’s one of the world’s biggest holders of 5G patents and has contributed most to the effort to establish an international standard for 5G, according to IPlytics, a market intelligence firm that tracks tech trends.

Experts at the Eurasia Group say the standard-setting process “will determine not just how 5G networks are built, but also how money flows between participants.” Companies that contribute heavily to developing the standard will receive royalty payments from other telecom players, which “in turn, will help fund future innovation,” the analysts wrote in a November report.

Some experts, however, caution that it’s too soon to say who’s really leading on 5G, mainly because definitions of the technology have yet to be finalized.

“5G is still at the trial stage,” said Zhenshan Zhong, who specializes in emerging technology in China for research firm IDC. “Before the test results come out, I don’t think anyone can say for definite whether one vendor is actually going to be stronger than the other.”

Huawei’s financial muscle

Huawei’s size and financial firepower enable it to dwarf its rivals’ spending on efforts to come up with new tech.

In 2017, it invested more than $13 billion in research and development, topping Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL), according to consulting firm PwC. In comparison, Nokia says it spent $5.6 billion on research and development that year, while Ericsson typically allocates around $4.4 billion each year.

Ericsson and Nokia’s “financial troubles and strategy troubles over the last few years” may have weakened their focus on 5G, Thillien said.

Huawei has the added advantage of being the key player in its vast home market.

Worldwide spending on 5G will balloon from $660 million in 2018 to $70.9 billion in 2022, according to IDC. China alone is expected to account for nearly half of all global 5G expenditure this year, it said.

Huawei’s ability to offer more than just network equipment gives it another advantage. It’s one of the world’s top three smartphone makers, and it also provides cloud computing services and makes artificial intelligence chips.

“Given how all-encompassing 5G is going to be, this ‘total-telecom’ approach is powerful,” said Peter Richardson, a director of tech strategies at research firm Counterpoint. “No other industry player is doing anything similar.”