5G: a matter of convergence
Imagine a world where machines are able to talk to each other, faster, seamlessly, efficiently, without delay. Imagine a world without the definition of “mobility”, where the word is known and well used but its meaning is not really considered, because it’s such an integral part of everyday life, so entrenched in everything we do, that people don’t ever stop to consider it. Much like the Internet today. We all depend on it, but how many can explain it to a two-year-old? In this imagined world everything is mobile. And everything is connected. Everything, everywhere is a moving mass of communications. Machines, things, people; all connected, all talking, fast and easy. In airplanes, out at sea, in cars, trains, everywhere, no matter what. No need to connect; you’re already connected.
This is a 5G-enabled world. A realm of Smart, connected existence. And the only thing that separates our real world of today with the one imagined is time. Time to converge technologies; for networks – both wireless and satellite – to raise efficiencies in order to offer 5G. We need smarter, faster and more efficient networks in order to connect devices, machines, buildings, assets and the cloud. We need to be able to send and receive the massive amounts of data being communicated by everything and everyone all the time. At the same time, we need to be able to derive actionable insight from this enormity of data, insight that will bring experience and new opportunities to our daily lives and transform businesses.
With 5G, we have the potential to deliver data hundreds of times faster than current wireless technology. But such potential can only be achieved when communications technologies converge, and to achieve this, the satellite, cable and wireless industries must align.
What is the first step to connecting the unconnected; to start the communications between machines and things? We need special modems, devices and networks to ensure that everything and anything that can compute and connect to the network actually will. Think about it this way — every device that connects to the network redefines connectivity and establishes a new point of convergence. Such connectivity requires immediate analytics and response as well. In spite of the belief that devices are simply dumb data sources, and that all analytics occur in the cloud; the fact is computing and analytics happen not only in the clouds, but also in the network and on our devices. Computing does not happen in a vacuum, it is ubiquitous like connectivity. So every goal must be directed to connect more perfectly than before.
Just imagine the benefits. Just imagine the quality of life. Someone in a rural, remote location can reach the world’s finest doctors in the centre of New York’s bustling concrete jungle. Talking to a device worn on the wrist, the application is opened and heart rate, blood pressure and sugar levels are taken and sent to the doctors rooms. A computer receives the data, orders a repeat prescription of medication and the order is prepared to be dispatched. Now apply the similar thinking but in the context of education, security, transport and logistics. How about agriculture? The poor, old farmer can rest his troublesome ankle because he knows his cattle are safe and sound. He needn’t travel vast distances to check on his animals, crops and resources. Clever automation and tracking devices can monitor his water supply, foodstuffs and medications. He can even monitor the condition of the river water and the health of vegetation surrounding his farm – or rather his computer can monitor all that and only send an alert should the data need a warning flag raised. With 5G-enabled, converged communications, the farmer can run his farm with the highest level of efficiency, yielding the best turnout to feed the nation.
The benefits are enormous, but realisng them rests on the satellite and terrestrial industries getting the 5G spectrum sharing right.