Editor's comment: Will 2020 be the year of 5G?...

06 January 2020

5G-roundtable-image_Will-2020-be-the-year-of-5G?_580x280

Happy New Year! It seems like industry has been talking about 5G for almost a decade. But as the first 5G network switch-ons took place in the UK & around the world in 2019, accompanied by early 5G handset releases – and with many more roll-outs scheduled for this year – will 2020 finally be the year of 5G?...

A version of this editorial was originally featured in the January 2020 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

To find out more, I recently attended a round table discussion on 5G featuring industry experts from EDA firm, Cadence, semiconductor companies, Analog Devices & Adesto, and mmWave pioneers, Blu Wireless...

The whole panel agreed that 5G would be about more than just another upgrade in speed and bandwidth – although inevitably, that is still what much of the consumer-facing mobile network operator (MNO) communication focuses on. Other key benefits include lower latency, more comprehensive coverage, lower power and more reliable uptime – enabling massive machine-to-machine communications (essential for IoT) and ultra-reliable low latency communications (essential for real-time and mission-critical applications, such as autonomous vehicles and v2x comms), as well as just enhanced mobile broadband. This is why most panelists agreed that the business and revenue opportunities were bigger in the industrial space, than consumer – with the real innovation likely to come in new business models (as well as unforeseen use cases and killer apps).

Henry Nurser, Chief Business Development Officer & co-founder at Blu Wireless cautioned that we should be realistic about adoption rates. MNOs need to consider ROI, as a great deal of investment is required to deliver 5G – but the business models will likely look very difference from previous generations. Consumers are beginning to retain smartphone handsets for longer (towards 3-5 years, rather than 18-24 months) – and typically care far more about coverage and reliability than more speed. And, crucially, they are not sold on needing to spend more to get 5G.

Mark Gradwell, Editor, EPDT

Ian Dennison, Senior Group Director, Custom IC & PCB Group at Cadence, emphasised that much of the 5G innovation was in fronthaul, rather than backhaul, technologies that should help address these quality-of-service (QoS) issues. Self-organising small cells, optical through-the-air laser communications and AI assistance throughout the network chain – in the handset, at the edge and in the cloud – will all contribute to improved QoS, he argued.

Simon Whittle, Technical Program Manager for the Wireless Systems Group within the Communications Business Unit of Analog Devices, argued that the landscape for the electronics industry was very good, with IoT and the trend towards increasing sensing, connectivity, intelligence and electronic content in all devices presenting lots of opportunity for growth. Automotive in particular will present huge opportunities for innovation, with AVs, v2x and platooning all examples of applications that 5G could enable.

To read more of this round table discussion, visit epdtonthenet.net/blogs.aspx for a longer version of this editorial...

EPDT January’s issue contains features on Embedded technologies and Military & Aerospace applications, plus EPDT's twice-yearly IoT & Industry 4.0 supplement. Read more on what's inside EPDT this month...


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