Cisco CEO Chambers says IoT will be key to 5G networks of tomorrow

BARCELONA, Spain - While 5G is still more concept than reality, Cisco CEO John Chambers believes the Internet of Things (IoT) will be a big part of the next generation technology. 

"Unstructured and structured data will transform society and many industries, including healthcare," Chambers said during a press briefing at the Mobile World Congress trade show. Chambers added that the IoT will most likely be the underlying fabric of 5G and that the network will be the centre of everything.

Not surprisingly, Chambers also expects the difference between wireless networks and wireline networks to continue to blur, which will lead to more virtualisation and automation of the network. And like many one-time infrastructure vendors, Chambers sees his company becoming more of a software firm than a hardware firm. He noted that 85 per cent of Cisco engineers are software engineers, not hardware engineers.

Of course, Chambers is not the only executive to make predictions about 5G, which many are saying is likely to become reality around 2020. Late last year, Ericsson senior vice president and CTO Ulf Ewaldsson painted a similar vision. During an interview with FierceWireless, Ewaldsson said that 5G will help facilitate a world where everything is connected and network download speeds will likely be 20 Gbps or greater. In addition, he said that network latency will have to be less than a millisecond to enable many of the mission-critical applications that are being envisioned today. 

Likewise the experts at infrastructure vendor Huawei have said that 5G will offer 1,000-times the capacity of current networks and deliver peak data rates of at least 10Gbps.

The Chinese company also said at an event earlier this month in Munich that 5G networks will stimulate the rollout of virtual cloud computing platforms, and boost IoT connections to between 50 billion and 100 billion by 2020.

Meanwhile, NSN is taking a more guarded approach. The company's European executive vice president, Rene Svendsen-Tune, said in an interview with FierceWirelessEurope/TelecomsEMEA that while no one is sure what 5G will be, NSN is already working towards deploying the technology.

5G is generating so much buzz that standards bodies are beginning to take action. The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance said this week that it will work on a 5G standard with the goal of making 5G available for deployment by 2020. Although the group was vague on exactly what 5G services will provide in terms of capabilities, several NGMN members said that there is a need for a unified approach to developing a 5G standard so vendors will have clear guidance for the future.

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