Home5GFormer BT CTO: The future is about low-power more than 5G

Former BT CTO: The future is about low-power more than 5G

Peter Cochrane also doesn’t think 5G will supplant Wi-Fi

In a new piece published by Computing, Peter Cochrane, the former CTO and head of research for BT, upends predominant industry discourse around 5G.

Cochrane is skeptical the telecom industry will be able to deliver on the hype around ultra-fast, low-latency 5G networks, which he accurately points out “is not even a product, but a collection of concepts and ideas. They are promising the earth in a frenzy of promotion and misconceptions. They cannot possibly deliver!”

Leaders in the telecom space, including officials from Ericsson and other major players, have positioned 5G as what’s needed to fully realize what the internet of things is capable of delivering; think automated, remote industrial control of mining equipment, for example, or the much touted use case of remote surgery.

In considering the IoT, Cochrane points out the importance of energy requirement and sustainable.

“The only way we can realise an IoT that’s compatible with a sustainable future is by using very short, low power links using microwatts instead of watts and milliwatts,” he wrote. “Communication within the bathroom, kitchen, office, stock room, manufacturing plant, and between shipping containers is key. It also has to be simple, transcending the complexity of mobile and Wi-Fi technology as we know it. Networks without infrastructure for things that never, or very seldom, require connection to the internet are key.”

Speaking of Wi-Fi, Cochrane also posits that the near ubiquitous connectivity provided by Wi-Fi isn’t going anywhere regardless of 5G.

“So will 5G see the demise of Wi-Fi in the future? I don’t think so. Everywhere I travel I see people looking for Wi-Fi to get connected even if 3G or 4G is available, which can be a rarity across many cities and rural areas.”


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