by Carlo Alberto Morosetti
With the current LTE 4G service, it could take up to an hour to download a high definition film. With 5G technology it will finally be a matter of seconds. This will make it possible to transfer data almost instantaneously, allowing consumers and businesses to work with applications extraordinarily faster and more efficiently. Day after day, the move to 5G will undoubtedly change the way we interact with technology, as well as being indispensable if we want to continue to use mobile broadband, given the unstoppable growth of devices connected daily on the Net. This revolution will therefore produce three main benefits: higher data rates, reduced latency and greater connectivity.
What will be the most significant changes that 5G will bring to our connectivity?
Latency refers to the response time between a user request and a response action taken with a simple function, application or machine. The lower latency of 5G, taking advantage of the cloud and new broadband, will dramatically reduce the response delay, optimizing streaming applications, such as video calls, online games, interactive live sports experiences. Manufacturing will also benefit from lower latency, with smarter factories capable of processing more information, reacting faster, and making products at a potentially cheaper cost. Reduced latency will also be a key factor in detection, control and control applications; from automated guided vehicles, through intelligent network management, to remote healthcare and much more.
The increased capacity offered by 5G will allow Networks to support multiple devices together and enable more intensive data flow activities. From this perspective, 5G will be the solution for expanding your daily connection business. 5G is expected to radically transform mobile communications by 2020, thus becoming a “strategic resource” on several fronts. As mentioned above, this will be possible through the implementation of ultra-fast, highly reliable and very low latency networks.
Remote device control
Since the 5G has a remarkably low latency, remote control of heavy machinery can become a reality. In this way, risks can be contained in the most hazardous and sensitive environments, allowing technicians with specialist skills to control even complex machinery from anywhere in the world.
What Innovations in Services?
In the future, a vehicle will communicate with other vehicles on the road, provide information on road and traffic conditions, performance information and many other aspects to other cars, drivers and vehicle manufacturers. If, for example, a car suddenly brakes, your car will be informed immediately and will in turn brake beforehand, preventing or significantly reducing the risk of a collision. This type of vehicle-to-vehicle communication, in addition to solving the most common traffic problems, could save thousands of lives.
The 5G’s ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC) component could also greatly improve healthcare. Because URLLC reduces 5G latency even beyond advanced mobile broadband, a world of new possibilities will open up. We look forward to seeing exceptional improvements in telemedicine, precision surgery – even at a distance – in physical therapies via AR (augmented reality) and thus in the recovery of optimal physical conditions in the coming years. Hospitals will be able to establish gigantic networks of sensors to monitor patients remotely. Doctors will be able to prescribe smart pills to track treatment compliance and insurance companies will even be able to monitor their customers to determine the most appropriate treatments and processes they need.
Intelligent Buildings and Cities
The decisive task for each city will be to define an “internal strategic plan” for its evolution into an “intelligent city”. It will be necessary to decide, step by step, which conceptual model to develop in order to best generate an open environment that promotes diversity, competition and innovation. Increasingly, the services provided by cities – from traffic control to care for the elderly and, more generally, the quality of life of the cities themselves – are still moving in a digital environment, involving components, accessories and services. In this context, it is vital that a city takes on the burden of digital infrastructure, as it previously did with analogue services and the infrastructure connected to them. In this way, the city will be able to guarantee its strategic governance and the progress of the areas for which it will be responsible in the future.
The choices of governments and industry will determine when and how to build their respective 5G Networks, with significant consequences for the next phase of the digital revolution, led by the United States and China, for the potential long-term balance of global power.
5G and related applications attract and will continue to attract talent and capital, while huge amounts of terabytes (TB) generated by applications running on 5G Networks will further stimulate innovation. In addition to the US and China, countries wishing to enter this virtuous cycle will face difficult choices, primarily about which 5G Network technologies and application ecosystems to adopt. Governments are likely to be under pressure from the US and its allies to avoid dependence on China for 5G. On the other hand, developing countries that are more sensitive to the issue of costs will certainly find it easy to make use of Chinese technology and its relative attractiveness, such as infrastructure and funding, for projects made available through the Belt and Road Initiative.
What strategies will the nations adopt?
China’s policy focuses on high public investment and a fast frequency launch with its three largest mobile network operators (MNOs) committed to China’s strict government programme. Despite previous generations of mobile communications, 5G is at the top of Beijing’s agenda, as demonstrated by the preparations already made and planned for “Made in China 2025”, the industrial program with which Beijing intends to become self-sufficient in high technology, renamed by the Chinese Government: program of digital and technological advancement of the Chinese economy. The ten priority sectors of the programme contain new advanced information technologies, which rely on 5G. In the final report of CTIA (the association representing the wireless telecommunications industry in the United States), China obtained the highest score in terms of 5G, thus underlining the strategic importance of Beijing’s technological innovation.
The United States bases its 5G race on the idea that “the nation that leads the world in wireless technology wins”. The FCC Democratic Commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, attacked the Trump plan on frequencies, because it involved too long passages and procrastinated deadlines, risking slowing down the U.S.’s path towards leadership in 5G: “The other nations are running ahead and we sit in the waiting room; in the meantime we have also put duties on 5G networks,” she warned.
The Telecom companies, gathered in the CTIA association, have so far appreciated the Trump approach, saying that: “with the right approach, mobile operators in the United States will invest hundreds of billions of dollars and create millions of jobs. However, the duties and the now bitter trade war with China, will not help the U.S. aims at all. Companies such as Intel, Cisco, Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Juniper Networks believe that if the duties are extended to all products imported from China, it will also affect the components necessary to implant the 5G networks. The U.S., in addition to the obvious facilities for users, industry and all other areas for which the 5G will be a decisive upgrade, will focus on national security measures and improving global competitiveness. Overall, Washington understands the critical value of 5G, due to its rewarding experience with 4G leadership, but 5G will take longer to achieve broad coverage of its vast area. We can say that somehow the United States is no longer in the lead, but in the near future, any agreements with partners such as Japan, South Korea or the EU, a more cooperative approach and overall harmonisation efforts, could support and implement the US strategy.
The EU’s objective is to remain competitive in the global 5G race.
The Old Continent plan suggests a timely distribution of 5G and a coordinated approach. A large area of coverage will be the key. This coordinated approach was launched through the launch by the European Commission in 2013 of “a public-private partnership (5G-PPP), supported by €700 million of public funding”. The EU has therefore set its course for the development of 5G rather early, but the commercial launch within the EU is expected towards the end of 2020 and for this reason China, Japan, South Korea and the United States will enjoy an initial time advantage.
At some point, Berlin, Paris and London will have to resolve to embrace one of the following options: continue their present policy of privatisation of telecommunications and consistently; allow the current economic development in the sector; work with the United States and other Western partners; establish an independent European approach. The last option would probably lead to a more autonomous and thus stronger European role in digitisation and an increase in continental cyber-security. However, this would also result in much higher costs for businesses and consumers, excluding non-European vendors and delaying the timeline for network expansion. There would also be a risk of potential retaliation from Beijing and Washington.
The Government of the Federal Republic aspires to become a leading market (“Leitmarkt”) for 5G applications and emphasises the robustness of its digital infrastructure as well as the coverage of a large area. Its 5G strategy includes: accelerating the 5G rollout; providing corresponding frequencies to needs; facilitating cooperation between the telecommunications and application industries; coordinated and targeted research; and timely deployment in cities and communities. To this end, the government has dedicated 80 million euros for 5G Research and Development and a further 100 billion to invest in high-performance broadband such as 5G or Fibre. Berlin started its 5G-Initiative in autumn 2016 and aims for a full launch until 2025, aiming to cover all major German cities and all major traffic routes. The commercial launch is scheduled for the end of 2020.
The British Government, claiming its role in the 5G race, defined it as “the ambition of the United Kingdom” that is “to be a planetary leader in 5G. London considers the following targets to be central to its success: “accelerate the implementation of 5G networks; maximise the productivity and efficiency benefits of 5G in the UK, thus creating new opportunities for domestic, domestic and foreign companies and encouraging domestic investment. This underlines an output-oriented approach that aims at rapid deployment of transmitters and implies a preference for the private sector. As a result, the UK’s 5G strategy focuses on the prospect of an extended and dynamic network, including a wide coverage area. The commercial launch in the UK is expected to take place in 2020 and the full launch five years later. As a result, all major urban centres and roads, as well as many of the countries and railways, are expected to be covered by 2025.
The objectives of the 5G transalpine are: the already successful launch of 5G pilot projects in 2018; hosting the first 5G applications in the world, in industrial sectors; allocating 5G frequencies by 2020 and launching them in at least one major city; finally achieving 5G coverage for all major transport routes by 2025. The case of France, perhaps, is a plan less driven by ambition and more by feasibility. According to the Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes (Arcep), operators in France have agreed on a commercial launch in 2020. In addition, its Superfast Broadband Scheme, to provide high-speed connections by 2022, is an additional tool to support the expansion of the Network. Coverage is likely to be less extensive than that of other competitors because, contrary to the UK or German strategy, the French counterpart does not specify whether its aim is to cover all major cities by 2025. The French agenda, therefore, is more open and less specific and capillary, but is closely aligned with that of the EU, with an action plan that suggests a harmonic and coordinated European approach.