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5G: Overhyped, or a “Fairy Tale” Come True?

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Friday, July 17, 2020

Ready or not, the future is coming. In some ways, it’s already here.

So it is with 5G, the latest generation of mobile connectivity. The promise of this technology, and its implications for consumers, businesses, and partnering, were among the topics discussed in one of the many on-demand presentations that form this year’s ASAP Global Alliance Summit.

“How 5G Will Transform and Disrupt Business and Partners,” moderated by Stacy Conrad, director channel sales, TPx, featured three panelists:

  • Pradeep Bhardwaj, senior strategy director, Syniverse
  • Manoj Bhatia, CSAP, partner business development (technology alliances), Verizon
  • Andreas Westh, CSAP, director global partnering strategy, Ericsson

“Once upon a Time” Is Now

After a short introduction by Conrad to set the stage, Bhardwaj began by noting, “The story of mobile has been nothing short of a fairy tale. We have come a long way since the start of the first generation of mobile technology in the early ’80s.” Each generation of mobile technology has come with its own advancements, he added—including texting, Web browsing, and video—and 5G is no different.

For Westh, 5G brings with it “a lot of opportunities” for both consumers and businesses. These include connected smart homes, low-cost Internet of Things (IoT) technology, enhanced live event experiences, gaming, wireless virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), remote robotics, connected vehicles, and connected logistics for business. Westh views 5G as an “innovation platform” where “different companies come together and cocreate.”

Bhatia sees 5G’s impact as primarily occurring in three areas: mobile connectivity for business, new consumer services such as home broadband, and big industry services that will help enterprises digitalize and leverage IoT technologies, for example.

Of this last category, he said, “This is an area [where] everybody has been working for a while, trying to get new innovations. But with 5G, the speed, latency, moving massive amounts of data in a much more efficient way—that’s where the new challenge and the new excitement comes in.”

“A Complete Paradigm Shift”

Asked by Conrad whether 5G has been overhyped, the panelists seemed to agree on a resounding “no.” If anything, they suggested that perhaps the technology’s potential has been underestimated.

“The hype is very justified,” Bhardwaj maintained. “It’s a complete paradigm shift.”

Bhatia chimed in that when speed can be “magnified and amplified” anywhere from 10x to 100x over 4G, and latency reduced as much as 10x (avoiding delays in the movement of large amounts of data), “the hype is understandable.”

Furthermore, he said, “All businesses struggle not just in the transport of data but also in managing these big chunks of data. And that’s where 5G will actually help.”

“Cut All the Cables”

Westh said, “There’s huge interest from the business side, not just consumers. It opens up a lot of opportunities. We see a lot of interest from partners from different companies who want to leverage 5G for their businesses.” He added that his company, Ericsson, recently released the results of a survey predicting that mobile data consumption will increase 4x in the next couple of years, which has both business and consumer implications.

Looking at different verticals where 5G will have an impact, Bhatia mentioned healthcare—in particular noting contract tracing for the coronavirus, collection and analysis of public health data, the use of AR/VR in diagnosis, and telehealth. (And about the changes wrought by COVID-19 worldwide, he said, “We’re all going through this crisis. We’re all gathering the strengths, the technology, and the ideas to solve this problem more efficiently, so we are better prepared for this kind of crisis in the long run.”)

Westh mentioned advances in entertainment, including enhancing the experience around live concerts, shows, and sporting events—and even consuming entertainment safely at home. In these areas, he said, 5G will help remove or reduce capacity constraints, interference, and connectivity issues. Westh added that one of Ericsson’s goals is to “cut all the cables”—which means that professional cameras at live events will be able to get into spaces where it hasn’t been feasible up to now.

Bhardwaj took on the manufacturing sector, where he said that 5G could greatly improve both process and production automation, as well as connectivity and logistics, robotics, and other functions.

Partnering in 5G: From Small Islands to Super Ecosystems

Not surprisingly, the promise of 5G has spawned any number of new and innovative partnerships involving multiple players. “The foundation has been there,” Bhatia said, noting the prominence of technology and systems integrator partnerships, which he called “small islands.” But 5G, he predicted, will bring “a super set of ecosystems” with it, along with the incubation of a “new round of innovation—[creating] something that was unimaginable before.” Verizon itself is working with many startups on 5G projects, as well as with device makers like Samsung, and investing in “labs for new ideas.” But Bhatia warned that any such efforts must provide real, beneficial, “significant change,” or else it’s simply “hogwash.”

Westh agreed that partnerships are already an important element in the creation of new 5G use cases for consumers and businesses. “It’s a collaborative game,” he said. “It’s an ecosystem and a value chain [for] cocreation. We’re just at the beginning with 5G. It’s a long journey.”

If you registered for the 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, don’t forget that all conference sessions—both livestream and on demand—are available for viewing from now through August 18, 2020, on the conference showcase.

Tags:  5G  Andreas Westh  AR/VR  channel sales  diagnosis  Ericsson  Manoj Bhatia  mobile  mobile connectivity  partner  partnering  Pradeep Bhardwaj  Stacy Conrad  strategy  Syniverse  technology  telehealth  TPx  Verizon 

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