IoT as the defining 5G app and other reflections on MWC 2016
Here’s the thing about Mobile World Congress: exhibitors are working hard to dazzle attendees with splashy, show-stopping demonstrations of cutting edge technology, although oftentimes that technology is years from being commercialized and having a real impact on your life.
For instance, at the show this year, Samsung had a virtual reality rollercoaster set up, while SK Telecom opted for a Beatles-inspired yellow submarine ride that, via VR headsets, let riders swim with whales.
Many mobile VR applications require the high-capacity throughput and almost nonexistent latency promised by “5G,” which, along with the “Internet of Things,” were the predominant themes of MWC last month.
So 5G. Standards bodies are working hard to define an ultimate 5G standard with the timeline tracking for that in 2019 or 2020. If that’s the case, how was Nokia showing off a 5G-compatible base station?
The 2015 Mobile World Congress also put a huge emphasis on 5G, but this year was different. More fleshed out use cases created the sense the telecom industry, and consumers, are getting closer to realizing some of these use cases, almost all of which revolve around adding intelligence to previously unconnected, dumb objects.
That’s the real theme – 5G as the true enabler of the IoT explosion that so many PowerPoint presentations claim is right around the corner. Think of it as 3G marking the jump to data, 4G vastly increasing the utility of that mobile data and 5G as the thing that will let everything around us in the physical world reap the same benefit of mobile data as you and I do now.
Smart city infrastructure will dynamically reroute autonomous vehicles to optimize travel times and congestion, while your connected car will recommend a 22-minute piece of content because that’s exactly how long your drive is.
Physical abilities – operating mining equipment or performing a surgical procedure – can now be transferred over the tactile Internet. No more need for humans to risk their lives in industrial settings; no more impediment for the most skilled physicians to reach all corner’s of the earth.
So, yeah, VR is cool and it got a lot of mindshare and attendee attention, but the IoT as the defining app of 5G is what we need to live in the future we’ve all dreamed about.