Manish Vyas, president of business communication at Tech Mahindra, spoke with TechRepublic's Dan Patterson about innovations that will be enabled by the arrival of 5G.
Watch the video, or read the full transcript of their conversation below:
Patterson: Help us understand, Manish, 5G we hear a lot of hype about. What's the reality of this new wireless standard?
Vyas: The reality is that it does promise us to transform. You very rightly use the word digital, but my translation of digital is it promises to change the way people would live, work, and play going forward in a more significant fashion than what you saw with the previous generations.
If I could just expand on that a bit, 5G is not just about the throughput and the speed and the power and the latencies, but 5G is about exciting, exciting propositions that will come our way both in the enterprise space and in the consumer domain. Given that 5G also combined with some of the other later technological innovations that are happening as we speak, for example, artificial intelligence, will just enable a certain set of use cases. It will just change the paradigm of how people communicate, how people consume experiences, or how people transact business. All of that is going to change, so I guess that's the reason why everybody is so hyped up, if I may, about 5G.
Patterson: So, how? We know that the capabilities of 2G, 3G, and 4G has iterated and created new technological capabilities. What specifically about 5G enables IoT, enables high-speed mobile devices, and enables artificial intelligence?
Vyas: Yes. I think it is, and all of them are related, the convergence of other software technologies that are advancing at the speed of light right now. Let's take two of them, just to build a use case, right? Let's take VR, virtual reality. Let's take IoT, which is the ability to connect the devices and harness the power of data, right? Now, combine that with the wireless advancements that will happen with the 5G technology from an access, as well as from how the data is processed. It will create use cases that have hereto not been possible.
SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy (Tech Pro Research)
One of my favorite examples that I often give is think of an NFL game, and think of the tailgate parties that happen outside any stadium. There are any number of thousands of people who are perennial tailgate party goers. They don't even enter the stadium game after game, year after year, but they like to spend a lot of money outside the stadium.
The experience that they will now get, imagine with the VR and with the discoverable aspect of the network that 5G does, where if you, Dan, for example, as a big fan of a certain running back of a certain NFL team, as you're partying with your buddies outside a certain stadium, you will be notified that something dramatic happened inside the stadium and with whatever device that is available at the time, which is also by the way advancing, with 5G and with the fact that you are discoverable by the network and the latencies and the availability of the network is like never before, the throughout is like never before, so the IoT on a camera or a device, the VR experience, powered by 5G, you will there and then and you will be the only person who will be able to stand almost right next to the running back and experience as the things explode and happen at the site.
Just the sheer power of that use case is phenomenal, and the money that different people in the ecosystem will make out of it, including the telecom service provider, I think can be quite an interesting paradigm in my view.
Patterson: What are some of the challenges or roadblocks to the rollout of 5G?
Vyas: I think there are plenty. One of the biggest ones is going to be, without even getting into the technology aspect at this point, I would say is still a major part of the industry will still struggle to find the justification to invest in the capital, from a business case ROI standpoint.
Now, on that one, one is also hearing as I go around the world and meet different CTOs and other executives of service providers, one is hearing that there are different ways of skinning that cat, if I may. The overall cost of 5G deployment is likely to be atmospherically high at this point, there are all indicators that the likely cost is going to be cheaper than what was in 4G, and if that happens, that itself is probably a business case-justification.
SEE: IT pro's guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Of course, there is a bigger underlying assumption that the prices in the marketplace at least hold up, and if they drop, they drop only marginally and not dramatically. There's no guarantee of that, but at least that's a possibility. That's one challenge, clearly that the market is going to face.
The second is going to be a more technical and execution challenge, which is the availability of the technology, the trials that need to go through in a very satisfactory fashion worldwide so that people get enough confidence to go and deploy the technology at a very large scale, which I don't think is a question of if, it is more a question of when. I guess the challenge would be more for delay rather than really making it happen.
Patterson: Manish, I think that that is a great point. I wonder if you could leave us with say, the next 18- to 36-months in the rollout of 5G. Where are we in a year, year and a half, and where are we in three or four years?
Vyas: I would say in three to four years time, I would be surprised if the world is not entirely enabled by 5G. When I say that with a sense of responsibility that there would be still be a certain set of companies that may not adopt it, because of how they would want to position it, which would be challenging, and they would be under tremendous pressure, but I believe that in the next three to four years, as the other technologies also evolve, the other software technologies, I believe in the next three to four years, we will see a very large scale deployment worldwide.
In the imminent short-term, the 18, 20 months, I think we will see the early adopters clearly making progress. This year alone, we might see some of the major tier-one service providers in the North American continent, we will see them doing about 12 to 15 trials. By that, I mean 12 to 15 locations or cities would be 5G-enabled by the end of the year.
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Dan Patterson has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Dan is a Senior Writer for TechRepublic. He covers cybersecurity and the intersection of technology, politics and government.