Cisco CEO: 5G hype is rooted in reality

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins today said 5G has experienced a lot of hype, but it's on the precipice of becoming reality. (Cisco)

BARCELONA, Spain—While 5G has been on the lips and minds of carriers, network vendors and service providers at for years now, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins today said forces are finally coalescing in the industry to bring it to fruition.

“This is one technology that feels like the hype is going to be reflected in the reality,” he said on stage at MWC Barcelona Wednesday.

“You’re going to see incredible applications” for industrial use, transportation, factories, mining, manufacturing, robotics and automated precision, he said. “It also opens up a world of opportunity for the applications and capabilities we can actually deliver to help people around the world.”

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He also expects 5G to change the dynamic of rural coverage because, as he put it: “This technology will allow us to take high-speed connectivity to places we’ve never been able to take it.”

The mobile industry is entering a phase that’s unlike anything it’s embarked on before now, said Robbins.

“The technology you put in the network is going to be different than anything we’ve ever built.” After multiple network upgrades that required additional components, carriers are now planning to take them apart and replace old equipment with simpler solutions that have the ability to move with greater speed, he added.

“We have to build new, massively scalable, simple” and “secure networks that are reliable, programmable, automatable, software defined,” Robbins said. All the buzzwords need apply, he said, adding that 5G must also be high performance, cloud delivered, trusted and secure—one more time for good measure.

With billions of connections at the edge of the network amid multiple transitions in technology including 5G, Wi-Fi 6, artificial intelligence and automation, these seemingly unrelated technologies are “going to be incredibly important to each other,” Robbins said.

"We believe this will extend the opportunities that you have,” he said. “As we go to build out this capability, partnerships are going to be incredibly important … Once this starts it’s going to move very rapidly.”

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