Three software specialists on 5G opportunities
Goodbye wifi, goodbye cables. You’ll be left standing in the corner. 5G has arrived and it will take your place almost everywhere. But most importantly, 5G will enable software developers to design new experiences, services, and business opportunities harnessing the high bandwidth, low latency and virtually unlimited access provided by the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks.
No more wifi and cables? To be fair, a tiny disclaimer might be appropriate before we begin elaborating on, how 5G will change the world as we know it: Actually, wifi and cables won’t disappear entirely. Wifi will still be used for indoor connectivity, where high speed and maximum reliability are less important. And cables will obviously still be there for power supply and fibre backbone, although 5G will replace ethernet cables in many places, even when it comes to real-time safety-critical systems.
That said, the sky is the limit, when it comes to imagining how 5G will change our daily lives. 5G will secure instant access to high-speed internet everywhere, all the time, allowing for an explosion of new applications. In short – a shift in paradigm if there ever was one.
– Very interesting times lie ahead of us, says Tore Levin, project manager at Sylog with extensive experience within telecom.
– 5G will give us the possibility to develop so many new applications, integrating AI, sensors, ultra-fast data collection and much more. The only limit is our own imagination. You can compare 5G to electricity. Look at all the things we have achieved with electricity that we couldn’t even dream of in the beginning.
CEO of Sylog Johan Jacobsson agrees. He began working in the telecom industry in the late 90s, pioneering machine-to-machine communication and connecting refrigerators, drilling machines, and coffee machines to the internet. Since then machine-to-machine communication has been renamed IoT, and moreover, it is finally starting to work. Why? Because now we have the bandwidth, the smartphones, the cloud applications, and not least the customer demand for it.
– Now, with 5G coming we’re on the verge of something really big. I like to put it this way: if 4G is about connecting people, then 5G is about connecting things. Compared to people, cars, ships, factories, healthcare etc. are more demanding in regards to quality of service, bandwidth, and latency. For instance, when you’re a heart surgeon doing remote surgery half way across the globe, then you need a 100 per cent stable connection, as close to real-time as possible. 5G can provide that.
Sylog has worked within telecom for more than 20 years, all the way from 1st generation GSM to 5G. Johan Jacobsson and his team have contributed on all levels of the telecom industry, developing radio base stations and other equipment for suppliers, working with operators to integrate hardware into their infrastructure, providing systems for provisioning, billing, and roaming and much more. Not least, Sylog has helped serveral international industry companies connect their machines and devices to the network.
– That versatility is the real edge we have here at Sylog. We’ve been on all sides, both on the telco side, with the manufacturers, and with the industry. We’ve contributed to the whole eco chain, so we have a lot of experience to bring to the table.
Speed makes the difference
Patrik Veräjä is a member of the Sylog in-house team focusing on 4G and 5G. According to him, the speed and the low latency of 5G will make a world of difference. At top speed, 5G will be around 100 times faster than 4G. That means you can develop applications in which ultra-low latency and high bandwidth are essential: think self-driving vehicles, automated harbours, remote surgery etc.
Another unique feature of 5G is the possibility to divide the network into different spectrums. Called Network Slicing, this enables you to guarantee a certain level of connectivity for specific applications, e.g. dedicated frequencies for the Blue Light industries, or special hotspots at charging stations for electric cars, with high-speed connectivity for software updates.
Here is another example of, what Network Slicing can do: you might want to provide connectivity to a specific area inhabited by 10.000 people. In that same area there is a factory located that needs ultra-high bandwidth for automated production lines, self-driving robots, and safety critical operations performed remotely. You can offer a dedicated slice of the network with ultra-high performance to the factory, limited to the factory area. Meanwhile the people living near by will be using another slice of the network with ordinary run-of-the-mill bandwidth sufficient for streaming music and watching Netflix.
Slicing the spectrum
Patrik Veräjä elaborates:
– There are different parts of the spectrum, where 5G can be used. Operators are talking about low, mid and high frequencies. When you have a need for high bandwidth, but only for a few applications and a limited amount of users, then you could get a certain frequency, which offers that precise level of service. If you have many users who only need low bandwidth, you can allocate another part of the network to them. 4G is different, it’s more or less “here’s your bandwidth, handle with care”.
– With the high-speed connectivity and the network slicing within 5G, there is so much potential. There are so many areas in which 5G can be used: AI and gaming, IoT and automotive, you could go on and on. One part of it is to put the infrastructure in place and scale up the 5G networks. Then the next step is to develop software to enable the possibility to connect different parts of larger systems to interact with one another.
Gaming leads the way
Talking about the paradigm shift caused by 5G, Tore Levin points to the gaming industry for a glimpse of the future. For game developers there is only a small step from what they do now to new 5G-enabled applications utilizing enhanced video, augmented and virtual reality etc.
Taking it all a bit further still, Tore Levin thinks that not far into the future we might reach a whole new level of connectedness. Instead of connecting through computers and smartphones we might connect directly into our body. That is a bit scary, Tore admits, but nevertheless he sees it coming.
But before that happens 5G will already have changed the world. In logistics it can optimize the flow of goods around the world, save energy and reduce waiting times, automate harbours, streamline container traffic, and increase security for harbour workers.
In manufacturing it can optimize production lines, enable remote control of time critical processes, and allow robots to become faster and safer. In healthcare new levels of remote monitoring and treatment can be achieved, not to mention what 5G can do in the entertainment industry: imagine a football game with hundreds of cameras covering every possible point of view. Which ones to choose, that’s for you to decide.