5G: Incremental Change or the Next Revolution


Pictured left to right: Franklin Flint, TIA; Reza Arefi, Intel Corporation; Glenn Laxdal, Ericsson; Fran O’Brien, Cisco; and Ed Tiedemann, Qualcomm.

One of the great things about my job as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at TIA is getting to work with some the top technology leaders in the telecommunications industry. Between the TIA CTO Council, Global Standards Collaboration, and various industry events such as TIA’s annual Network of the Future and other hosted panel discussions, TIA constantly keeps an open dialog with those responsible for our future in connectivity. These meetings of the minds are both awe inspiring and incredibly informative.

This past week I was given the opportunity to assemble and moderate a panel at the Broadband Conference at CES in Las Vegas where a group of brilliant leaders from the manufacturers’ side of the information and communications technology (ICT) market discussed what they see happening with 5G wireless technologies. The panel included Reza Arefi, Director of Spectrum Policy, Intel Corporation; Glenn Laxdal, CTO and Head of Strategy for North America, Ericsson; Fran O’Brien, CTO Group – Wireless Standards, Cisco; and Ed Tiedemann, Sr. VP, Engineering, Qualcomm Fellow, Qualcomm.

These ARE the people who know what products and services will arrive over the coming years as the next generation of wireless networks, 5G, comes closer to reality. Glen, Reza, Fran, and Ed went through the visions they and their companies have for the future of wireless, when 5G will be a reality, and what consumers can expect from the technology.

The panel session was very engaging and entertaining with the speakers eagerly taking opportunities to share their views and respond to each other as they discussed the topic. Once the first question was taken, the room erupted with requests. Here are the key insights on 5G the audience walked away with:

  • 4G LTE technology is still evolving and advancing and will provide many improvements over the next decade.
  • 5G will likely operate in conjunction with 4G to give devices improved features like higher bandwidth, low latency, and expanded capacity for more devices.
  • There is no known “killer app” which 5G will enable. Mostly the massive increase in demand for speed and capacity will drive the adoption of 5G.

The panelists also pointed out that unlike 3G – which introduced data to our phones – and 4G – which enabled more bandwidth for content – 5G is just more of the same we are demanding. Stamping a huge 5G logo on the back of a phone is not going to inherently make it head shoulders more capable than the same generations of phones without 5G capabilities.

For a great summary of the session, click here to read Colin Neagle’s article for Network World.

It was a pleasure to lead this important discussion on 5G at CES and I thank all the panelists for joining this successful event. TIA will be holding additional conversations on the future of wireless networks, including a live 5G webinar on February 16. Stay tuned for details and visit TIAonline.org to sign up for email updates.

Franklin Flint is the Chief Technology Officer at TIA. Follow him on Twitter @franklincflint.

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