Will 5G bring home the Gold at the Olympics?

Written by
doug.mccluskey

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang technology giants will be collecting more than race results and scores of the hundreds of competing athletes. As the rest of the world watches the drama of sport, rooting on their nation’s athletes, behind the scenes some of the world’s largest telecommunications designers and manufacturers will be intently gathering data on the worldwide debut of the fifth-generation wireless network…5G. After the Olympics the 5G network will be turned down and the men and women in the white coats will scurry off to analyze the data. 

Development of 5G technology has been ongoing for years led by several companies, including Samsung, Intel, Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson, ZTE, Qualcomm and others. 

As of last December some of the Technical Standards have been finalized which will allow mass-production of chips sets which will power the new technology. Some of the best smartphones today peak at 1Gbps download. Estimates say that 5G will deliver up to 5Gbps.  Imagine walking around with your device that can provide 5 times the download speed. The delay from when you request data to when it loads on your device could be as little as a 1 millisecond, almost 10 times faster than current rates.  

The improved latency opens the possibility of real time HD video. Imagine being able to experience an Olympic bobsled run in real time with a GoPro strapped to the front of the sled. To see through the eyes of a downhill skier flying down the mountain with a Gold Medal on the line. 5G equipped cameras can capture VR (virtual reality) footage from the Ice Arena and out on the cross-country courses. Along with those exciting applications, 5G will also be behind some of the more mundane tasks such as providing the communication backbone to manage a fleet of driverless shuttles delivering athletes and spectators to and from all the Olympic sites seamlessly. 

The mundane is where 5G could be most disruptive. You can only check your email or flip through your Instagram feed so fast. The sheer bandwidth 5G promises will usher in a truly connected world. The long whispered Internet of Things (IoT). Everything from driverless cars, flying drones, smart fridges, environmental sensors, wearable devices, dog collars, traffic lights, robots, and thousands of sensors collecting data on what we can only imagine will be possible. The shear amount of data that will be collected and the speed at which we can interact with that data, even for this old Technologist, is staggering. 

There are still hurdles to clear. Over the next few years standards will be finalized and hardware will begin to ship. Your 5G phone isn’t ready yet, but the infrastructure upgrades to support it are under way. Communication Service Providers will continue upgrading their networks to usher in the new technology.  CSPs will be facing many challenges to meet the demand. Their network architecture will require resources to support 5G. Like the Olympics, the race is on.  

What intrigues me most is the absolute unimaginable.  10 years ago with our cell phones, could we imagine video in our hands, Apps, YouTube, Netflix, and Snapchat? A 5G network will certainly be used for things we can’t even fathom today. New industries and a new generation of tech millionaires will emerge as they creatively harness this new technology and deliver services we don’t know we need yet. But somehow we will.  

A few years ago some guy named Elon Musk along with a few partners started a little thing called PayPal which leveraged this new technology called the internet. Who would want to buy something or exchange money online? Bahhh, who would want to do that? That same Elon Musk used that internet company to spring board the creation of Tesla which is turning the automotive and energy sectors on it’s head. A few weeks ago he launched one of his rockets into space and says he wants to go to Mars! Ya, I’m not betting against him. 

Somewhere right now there a little boys and girls running around eating crayons who in a few short years will change the world as we know it. Their spring board will be the 5G networks and technology that we develop today. Does that sound too dramatic? Fine, you bet against them. 

“It really is, we call it, the era of machines. Machines are coming, and the 5G is a big enabler with that true convergence of computing and communications” * 

– Sandra Rivera, Intel Corp.’s Senior Vice President

So as you watch the 2018 Winter Olympics, know that 5G technology is taking its first baby steps. But make no mistake, the bobsled is heading down the icy track. The snowboarder is heading into the halfpipe. The downhill skier has burst through the starting gate and is barreling down the mountain. The defenceman is winding up for the slapshot. It’s inevitable, 5G is coming….and it’s bringing SPEED! 

*”5G is making it’s Global Debut at Olympics, and it’s wicked fast” by Sam Kim and Sohee Kim Bloomberg Technology 

By Doug McCluskey, PTech, Network & Broadband Specialist
Missing Link Technologies Ltd.

5G, Broadband, Olympics, Wireless

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