Posted Jan. 4, 2017 at 7:48 a.m.

Trials show 5G wireless technology coming closer to reality

Published: 2017-01-04 07:48:41
Updated: 2017-01-04 07:48:41


As the Internet of Things sweeps the world with the 50th CES Show at Las Vegas clearly showing just how high-tech the world is becoming, the biggest news so far is the advances being made in 5G wireless. With field trials coming later this year, the days of a truly networked society are coming closer.

This is big news for a lot of companies in the Triangle, let alone consumers and business users. Red Hat, PrecisionHawk (drones), Cisco, IBM, ABB and many more can benefit from faster wireless technology. Considerable research is being done into the next wireless frontier at N.C. State.

"These technologies will be important to meeting the increasing consumer connectivity requirements for emerging consumer mobile broadband experiences such as virtual reality, augmented reality and connected cloud services," declared the 5G partnership of AT&T, Ericsson and Qualcomm.

The trio announced Tuesday plans for the trials. With the promise of multi-gigabit speeds across networks not relying on line-of-site antennas, 5G ultimately will mean the near end of latency and buffering. As AT&T has noted in touting its "AirGig" experiments, wireless gigabit access to all manner of devices from phones to drones is rapidly approaching.

Well, at least, that's the hope.

It may be 2020 at least before the foundations are in place to launch 5G, but what's three years in the days of the Internet? (Snap your fingers.)

  • VIDEO: For a primer on 5G, watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6bcmOkYyuE

And the rapid development of 5G toward reality from hype is likely among the reasons why Google Fiber put fiber expansion on hold. It wants to test wireless alternatives to costly in-the-ground networks, and the Triangle will be one of those markets.

The road to 5G is not yet clear, however.

Ulf Ewaldsson, Senior Vice President and CTO at Ericsson, describes 5G - and a big challenge - this way:

"5G is the biggest opportunity ever for our industry. We need to make sure there is one global standard that does not fragment terminal vendors and prevent the global scale that we have become used to with LTE. It is a global industry and teamwork is needed to achieve success.”

In other words, standards still have to be worked out. But once they are in place, companies such as these three partners, Intel and others are hoping to cash in on networks no longer built on fiber or reliant on slower LTE (long-term evolution) cellular backbones.

Qualcomm, Ericsson and AT&T execs stressed over and over the importance of standards.

"The roadmap of 5G technologies is complex, and collaborations such as this are critical to ensuring timely deployment of 5G networks," said Matt Grob, chief technology officer, at Qualcomm, in the announcement. "The 3GPP-based trials we are planning with AT&T and Ericsson will help us accelerate integration of advanced 5G New Radio technologies in form-factor accurate devices, building upon our long history of 3G and 4G LTE leadership and paving the path to wide-scale 5G deployments."

(3GPP stands for the production of Technical Specifications for a 3rd Generation Mobile System based on the evolved GSM core networks.)

"5G technology comes with new challenges, but more importantly, it offers tremendous opportunity to revolutionize the way we use mobile networks across industries," added Tom Keathley, AT&T's senior vice president, wireless network architecture and design. "We're tackling these challenges head-on through testing in our labs and field trials. We look forward to working with Ericsson and Qualcomm on these standards-based trials as we continue to accelerate standards efforts and move down our 5G evolution path."

WRAL TechWire has reported extensively about the emergence of 5G, as noted in numerous links included with this post.

Check them out.

The days of 5G will be here soon. We hope.

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