Folks in the US will see the transformative effects of 5G first in the areas of online gaming and fixed wireless broadband internet connections, Ericsson North America CEO Niklas Heuveldop said on Thursday.
"When it comes to new services, look at gaming as one of the sectors that holds promise for 5G. You need the unique throughput that 5G offers ... and the instant response," he said during a webcast hosted by The Washington Post. And yes, Heuveldop works for the Ericsson that makes and sells 5G network equipment.
5G networks – which promise increased capacity as well as high throughput and low latency – could move game console hardware from the edge of your furniture to the edge of a network, he said, adding that is already happening in places such as South Korea, where high-performance 5G networks are operational. That is to say, the gameplay processing is done remotely and piped to a relatively simple terminal in your home, potentially using 5G if the connectivity is available.
You can have basically a virtual gaming console sitting on the network and the relatively thin client and device
"Now that the network compute platform is being pushed out into the far edge ... you can have basically a virtual gaming console sitting on the network and the relatively thin client and device," Heuveldop said. "So, my kid wouldn't have to buy a new gaming console every 18 months. You can literally rely on the cloud infrastructure with instant responsiveness over 5G. I think gaming is one of those really exciting spaces in the consumer category."
Putting the gaming console on the network will also spawn a new generation of headsets and goggles for immersive experiences, he said. The top three cloud service providers, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, are also investing heavily in online gaming, and this would help drive the market, he explained. The latest Apple iPhone and Samsung devices can be gaming platforms, too, Heuveldop added.
The benefits of 5G, combined with artificial intelligence for automation, will be profound in manufacturing, said Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute.
Factory workers will find their jobs changing, and will "have more data at their fingertips to learn, to adjust, to be more agile more quickly than today's networks and today's technologies will allow."
"Because it changes manufacturing and how we manufacture, it's going to change the skills required from the workforce in order to make these products, and to use the capabilities that come with 5G," she added.
Manufacturers like Siemens and Bosch are already testing 5G-connected autonomous vehicles inside factories. The vehicles get instructions on navigation and their duties over private 5G networks deployed within the confines of their assembly lines.
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5G smartphones are increasingly available in the US, though for many the speed isn't much faster than 4G connections at the moment, and only 75 cities have deployed the fastest 5G networks on the millimetre-wave bands. About 300 million people in the United States – ie, just about everyone – have access to low-band 5G, which has slower speeds, according to Ericsson's figures.
"The next 12 to 18 months is really when it's going take off. The build-out is underway," Heuveldop said, adding that full 5G deployment will be done by 2025.
Verizon this month expanded its fixed wireless home internet connections on 5G networks to at least parts of 57 US cities as an alternative to wired connections. You basically get a transceiver unit that establishes an over-the-air broadband link with speeds of up to 1Gbps. ®