The Journey to 5G: Preparing for Mobile Broadband Transformation

I remember several years ago when I first saw a tweet about 5G in my Twitter stream. I read the blog post linked in the tweet, and it described a world of unbridled AI and bizarre self-driving cars.

At that time, 5G seemed like a fantasy from a sci-fi movie. Thinking about it made me want to hop in my spaceship to fly to the grocery store.

We’ve come a long way since then, and now 5G is one of the most popular hashtags in tech.

It’s clear that the concept of 5G is no longer residing in the fantasy realm. It’s a real progression of mobile broadband. It’s part of a digital transformation happening right now.

As I learn more about what it will take to bring 5G into reality, it becomes obvious that the journey will be long and arduous.

It will require a complete change in how mobile operators do business – and a shift towards an all-cloud strategy.

The first 5G networks will most likely be initiated in year 2020, which is right around the corner. It’s inspiring to read about the field tests and speed achievements that are happening now.

What will 5G really be like, and what can we do now to prepare? These questions were answered at Huawei’s Global MBB Forum a few months ago in Tokyo.

I’d like to bring what I learned at that conference to you in this post — and share a glimpse the future of mobile broadband.

If you’re looking forward to 5G as much as I am, keep reading. You’re going to like this!

4 Things You Need to Know about 5G and How to Prepare for It

1. Mobile Operators Should Start Preparing for 5G Now

“Mobile Operators should start building up their operational capabilities to prepare networks for the proliferation of IoT applications which will come with 5G” –Ryan Ding, President of Products and Solutions at Huawei

5G will be “things” focused, and operators need to prepare for all the IoT services that will naturally evolve with 5G.

What will 5G actually be like?

Honestly, nobody really knows with 100% certainty what 5G will be like because it’s going to be beyond what we can imagine right now.

From a single user’s perspective, imagine loading a webpage instantly. Imagine unlimited IoT services. Imagine a flawless mobile gaming experience. Imagine never waiting for buffering again. The list goes on and on.

In order for 5G to become a reality, mobile operators will be required to completely transform the way they’re doing business now.

Mobile operators who want to stay competitive and meet their customers’ growing demands should start preparing immediately.

Technology-centric networks will need to evolve into application-centric networks.

As Huawei’s Ken Hu explained, “there’s a wild world of mobile applications that is reshaping everything around us.”

What are application-centric networks?

They are networks that enhance and enable connectivity.

For example –

  • HD Video
  • 5G
  • Wide-Area IoT
  • Connected Vehicles
  • End-to-End Cloud Infrastructure

Rooms full of equipment will move to the cloud – while at the same time, not completely abandoning the infrastructure investments made over the past several decades.

A single network infrastructure will be required to provide the diverse range of 5G services – think “cloud-based everything.”

If you’d like to learn more about this, consider reading The Nuts and Bolts Behind Huawei’s All-Cloud Strategy. Huawei’s strategy is designed to make this complex transformation smooth.

It could potentially take years to prepare for what’s coming with 5G. Don’t wait until 2020 when the first 5G networks become a reality to start preparing.

After all, customer demands are only going to increase with time. We want and need a network that can keep up with our mobile lifestyles.

2. Huawei’s X Labs Platform Promotes Industry Openness and Collaboration

I’ve always known Huawei to promote openness and collaboration. As company execs have often said, instead of trying to get a bigger piece of the cake, Huawei is trying to make a bigger cake.

By succeeding together, we can create a better-connected world for everyone. This couldn’t be more true than when preparing for 5G.

At the Mobile Broadband Forum in Tokyo, Ken Hu (rotating CEO of Huawei) announced Huawei’s mobile research initiative called X Labs.

X Labs will encourage the exchange of ideas amongst mobile operators, technology providers, and vertical industry partners. It promotes an industry ecosystem that delicately balances collaboration with competition.

X Labs is made up of 3 unique labs –

mLab – This lab focuses people — and the immersive experiences in voice, video, AR and VR.

vLab – This lab focuses on verticals — and applications which help to enable digital transformation into a cloud-based mobile reality.

hLab – This lab focuses on households – and household broadband which supports smart home applications like security, education, health, etc.

Mr. Hu explained that this mobile broadband evolution depends on 3 key factors – connectivity, architecture and application enablement platforms. You can read more about each of these key factors in Huawei’s X Labs Press Release.

Currently, 1.3 billion households worldwide still don’t have broadband connections. Another 300 million households have connections slower than 10 Mbps.

By creating an open ecosystem around these 3 new opportunities, Huawei hopes to lead and support this mobile broadband evolution.

3. 5G Will Enable a Better-Connected World

If you’re like me, when you think of 5G, you immediately smile at the thought of instant HD mobile video and an anytime/anywhere fast internet connection.

We want high bandwidth with low latency. We want flawless VR and AR. We want smart home tech to finally work like it was designed to work. In other words, we want to be hyper-connected.

Think of the evolution of IoT as having one ultimate goal… to let things become intelligent. IoT will allow businesses to create more revenue-generating activities than we can imagine right now.

As each of us starts interacting with more things, the number of connections needed quickly becomes mindboggling.

But there is a much bigger picture to consider.

Although local connectivity is crucial, the larger scope becomes evident when I think about how much of the world still isn’t connected.

China Mobile, the largest telecommunications company, is committed to doubling their connections by year 2020. It’s part of their Big Connectivity Strategy.

“People are having interactions with many things like their cars and their refrigerators, so the number of connections per person could easily reach 10, which would mean 10 billion connections in China.” –Li Yue, President and CEO of China Mobile

And that’s just the number of connections potentially needed in China. I wonder how many worldwide connections would be needed. Suddenly, the importance of coverage becomes clear.

5G will bring huge changes as more and more things become connected. 5G networks will create more high-quality connections around the world.

Where will the first 5G networks be initiated?

Someone asked this question at the 5G press conference I attended at the Global MBB Forum in Tokyo.

Yang Chaobin, President of the 5G Huawei Wireless Network Product Line, simply said, “It will most likely not be in the United States.”

One thing is for sure, 5G will enable better connections for people to people, people, to things and things to things.

Huawei proposes 5G will enable a better-connected world by –

  • Enhancing mobile broadband
  • Supporting national energy transformation
  • Increasing automotive safety and efficiency
  • Providing new business opportunities for telecom operators
  • Driving manufacturing transformation

Get ready to see an entirely new generation of technology that will completely upgrade our mobile networks.

4. 5G Will Ignite the Rise of the Connected Robot

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology is set to change the world as we know it, and it will only continue to advance with high-speed connectivity.” –Ryan Ding, President of Products and Solutions at Huawei

I was interviewed last summer about artificial intelligence. The interviewer asked, “When do you think the AI era will begin?”

It’s already started. AI is all around us.

We’re already immersed in robot-assisted surgeries, drone deliveries and self-driving cars. But what we’ve seen so far barely scratches the surface of what’s possible with AI.

5G will be the catalyst that ignites the machine revolution.

When I think of a connected robot, I think of something much more than an IoT device. I think of a machine with human characteristics. When this happens, robots will start playing larger, more important roles in our lives.

I’m looking forwarding to having my own Jarvis (the AI from the Iron Man movies). It’s not that far-fetched. After all, Mark Zuckerberg already has his own Jarvis AI. If you missed it, you can watch the video here.

Huawei predicts that by 2030, the 5G-enabled autonomous robot market will be worth a whopping $14.6 billion dollars.

Regardless of how it all evolves, 5G will be the ultimate game changer for the robotics industry.

Final Thoughts

This is an exciting time in our evolution. It’s hard to believe that in only a decade, our lives will be completely different than what we know now.

Mobile operators have an uphill journey to climb (especially with our mounting expectations). But it will all be worth it when 5G, combined with other ICT tech, pushes humanity forward and inspires us to do, create and be more.

I was talking to my friend the other day about self-driving cars. Her 8-year-old daughter interrupted our conversation to ask a question about getting her driver’s license. Her mom said, “By the time you’re old enough to take your driving test, it will be completely different.”

I agree. Even the simplest tasks we do each day will change – whether it’s checking the weather forecast, creating our shopping lists, making our tea or getting a driver’s license.

I am old enough to remember life before smartphones. I remember how the most mundane things in life were different back then. Our brains even solved problems differently. Get ready for changes and upgrades far beyond what you’re expecting.

I’m most excited about what 5G will enable as it relates to IoT and smart home tech. I’ve written about futuristic smart home tech for years – and I can’t wait for some of it to finally become a reality.

If you’d like to continue the conversation, please leave a comment below or drop me a tweet at @adamsconsulting.

Thank you for reading my blog post!

Photo credit: Diana Adams
Source: Author attended the information event.
Editorial notice: This post has been sponsored.

Diana Adams
Diana is a USC graduate, tech entrepreneur and member of the Apple Consultants Network. She has written 4,200+ blog posts around the blogosphere. She loves innovation, creativity and grande Java Chips. She's also a frequent user of the force. Connect with her on Twitter at @adamsconsulting or email me at adamsconsulting4@gmail.com.
Diana Adams

Diana Adams

Diana is a USC graduate, tech entrepreneur and member of the Apple Consultants Network. She has written 4,200+ blog posts around the blogosphere. She loves innovation, creativity and grande Java Chips. She's also a frequent user of the force. Connect with her on Twitter at @adamsconsulting or email me at adamsconsulting4@gmail.com.