Video, virtual reality and vehicle connectivity are paving the way to 5G

Sue Marek

Thanks to the widespread deployment of LTE in the U.S., mobile broadband services are now ubiquitous. Today's consumers own multiple connected devices -- from tablets to smartphones -- and their usage of the wireless network is growing exponentially.

Although LTE has dramatically increased the data throughput and better spectrum management has made today's wireless networks much more efficient than in the past, there's still a need to accelerate the network so that it can handle the next wave of applications that will likely need more throughput, more speed and improved latency. In fact, Peter Rysavy of Rysavy Research noted in a report commissioned by 4G Americas that engineers working on 5G are planning for at least another 10-fold or greater increase in throughput.

Rysavy also predicted that LTE will provide the foundation for 5G. He noted that globally, LTE has more than doubled in mobile connections from 313 million at the end of second quarter 2014 to 758 million at the end of second quarter 2015, and the number of LTE deployments has grown from 373 to 425 commercial networks during the same timeframe.  

But faster networks with lower latency and more throughput alone won't drive the migration from 4G to 5G. Instead the impetus behind 5G will likely come from the applications that consumers and enterprises want delivered via mobile networks. In the 4G Americas report, Rysavy predicts that those applications will likely include ultra high-definition (UHD) video such as 4K and 8K or even 3D; augmented and immersive virtual reality; autonomous vehicles or other types of driver assistance systems, including vehicular Internet, infotainment and crash sensing and mitigation.

Beyond the obvious consumer applications, 5G will also be driven by some intriguing new enterprise applications such as transmission line monitoring using low latency sensors, smart transportation data and road sensors and even video transmission via cameras used to optimize traffic flow.

Although the timeline for 5G deployments is still uncertain, most experts are predicting that we will see the first commercial 5G network around the 2020 time frame.

Like many industry observers I find discussions about 5G and its potential for driving future applications fascinating. That's why I'm hosting an executive breakfast, Behind the 5G Crusade: How to Define & Deliver the Next Generation of Wireless, at CTIA Super Mobility 2015 in Las Vegas.

The event will be held on Thursday, Sept. 10 from 7:30 a.m. until 8:45 a.m. at the Sands Expo & Convention Center.

I will be joined by the following top experts:

  • Tom Keathley, SVP, Wireless Network Architecture and Design, AT&T
  • Adam Koeppe, VP of Network Technology and Planning, Verizon
  • Glenn Laxdal, CTO and head of strategy for North America, Ericsson
  • Ron Marquardt, VP, Technology Innovation and Architecture, Sprint
  • Chris Pearson, President, 4G Americas

If you are interested in hearing the latest progress on 5G from some top experts, please join me. Not only will I be asking questions, but I'll allow plenty of time for questions from the audience. Click here to register. I look forwarding to seeing you in Las Vegas.--Sue