The fourth industrial revolution is upon us, as advancements in wireless communications, the cloud, computing power, data storage, and analytics reach a critical mass. 5G in particular has the potential to join an exclusive club of technologies throughout history that have transformed industries across every economic sector, redefining work, elevating living standards, and profoundly impacting growth, said Ronan Dunne, executive vice president and group president of Verizon Wireless, in a keynote talk at Mobile World Congress Americas on Wednesday.
5G will likely have as large of an impact as other general purpose technologies such as the printing press and the internet, Dunne said. By 2035, 5G will enable more than $12 trillion in global economic revenue, and support 22 million jobs worldwide, he added, driven by the digitalization of industries such as transportation, agriculture, and manufacturing. It will also transform how cities work, how healthcare gets delivered, and how children are educated, Dunne said.
"Our industry's ambition must be that 5G opens up more opportunities than our society has ever experienced before, turning connectivity into possibilities for everyone and everything," Dunne said. Verizon is currently testing 5G technology in 11 cities across the US, testing the service to be used in fixed wireless deployments to bring gigabit-speed internet to the home.
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"We're encouraged by the speeds we're achieving and the knowledge we're gaining about how 5G functions in the real world," Dunne said. "Whatever the future holds, I believe this is the beginning of a massively positive change in how we live, work, and play."
5G will fundamentally permeate the world's economy in three ways, according to Dunne:
1. Expand the boundaries of mobile
5G will allow telecommunications providers to extend their mobile rollouts to more people worldwide through fixed wireless technologies, Dunne said. The tech will also expand the boundaries of the mobile broadband experience, allowing for the integration of 3D, holograms, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) experiences on smartphones. "It can put gamers in the middle of the game, put colleagues across the world in the same virtual room, and put teachers and students in a boundaryless global classroom," Dunne said.
2. Deploy IoT in a massive scale
5G will enable the Internet of Things (IoT) to be deployed at a "truly massive scale," Dunne said, thanks to its combination of data transferring speeds and processing power. This will lead to the rise of the "industrial internet," he added, reshaping supply chains and infiltrating the agriculture and manufacturing industries.
There are currently 8.4 billion connected devices in use today; by 2020, that number will rise to more than 20 billion, Dunne said. An analysis by Verizon found that the main initial beneficiaries of IoT will be the B2B market, as businesses use the technology to optimize energy use and integrate supply chains.
3. Enhance mission-critical services
With gigabit speeds, 5G will become a key component of mission-critical services that will dramatically improve safety and security, Dunne said. The technology will help power driverless cars, remote surgery, traffic control, and other applications across industries that depend on continuous response and data analysis. For example, Verizon and Ericsson partnered on a 5G wireless trial at the Indy 500 race in Indianapolis this year, testing a 5G-connected car that was able to sustain 6.4 Gb/sec speeds in a test.
5G will likely roll out to consumers and enterprises in 2019. "It has the potential to become an indispensable technology, and to create growth and spur innovation on a truly global scale," Dunne said.
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