Chances are your mobile plan in 2017 comes with a data cap of between 1 and 15GB depending on the carrier and your budget. That restriction in the amount of data you can consume in a single calendar month is going to need to expand rapidly as we move beyond 4G and 4GX to 5G.
The new wireless network technology is currently being tested in Thailand by Ericsson who no longer makes consumer handsets, but powers much of the networking technology the mobile world depends on.
Ericsson has performed the first live 5G end-to-end demonstration in Thailand using its 5G test bed and 5G ready core. This test achieved a peak throughput of 5.7Gbps and importantly has a wired-level latency of just 3ms.
Here’s the big disclaimer. This 5.7Gbps will always be impacted by congestion of other users as well as the capacity of the mobile phone towers. To deliver 5G, Australia and the world will need to embark on a multi-billion dollar investment to upgrade the towers and consumers need to purchase new, 5G capable devices, so this will take years, but happen faster than many expect. In Ericsson’s Mobility Report in November, they forecasted 5G subscriptions will reach half a billion by the year 2022.
Right now most of your devices connect through your home router rather than directly to the internet over mobile networks. With 5G’s substantial expansion of bandwidth, device manufacturers will simplify the setup experience by shipping devices that can connect directly. When everything you buy (vacuum, microwave, fridge, washing machine, lights, power switches, coffee makers etc) wants to be online, easy setup becomes a higher priority. The world is about to move into an era where the delay between data collection and data publishing and consumption becomes unacceptable and that real-time requirement in the business and consumer worlds means constant connectivity.
The temptation to appeal to a mass audience clearly needs to be layered with better security than we currently find in our IoT devices. It is also going to mean that current data cap is woefully insufficient.
As the world moves towards 5G, its time for a reset on how we think about data caps. The 500GB or 1TB at home is great, but if you’re a mobile person, or most of your connected electronics are leveraging the mobile networks, you need a combined home and mobile data caps and simply use data wherever you need.
Instead of dividing the accounting for mobile and fixed line differently, Telco’s need move to a monthly customer bill for X amount of data and amortize the costs across both types of infrastructure.
Ericsson says the multi-Gbps speeds delivered can support not only growing mobile broadband and video demand on smartphones and other mobile devices, but also provide a viable and cost effective alternative to residential fiber connections. We’ll have to wait till this technology is available and has real-world loads to know how true this is, whatever the net speed is, its awfully hard to beat the speed of light.
With greater throughput and lower latency, 5G will opens the door to new applications for consumers like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, autonomous/AI-controlled cars. Power issues aside, with a connected AR/VR device, we’d be moving ever closer to the dream of Matrix-style on-demand learning about the world in front of us (don’t know how to fly a helicopter, now you do). Don’t forget about industry applications like smart vehicles and transport infrastructure, remote healthcare, robotics and much, much more.
At this point you’re asking why Thailand right? Thai consumers are on par with global peers when embracing IoT and those connected devices need faster connectivity.
The country may be better known for their tourism efforts, but the country is serious about digital technology to connect their country and are serious executing on a ‘Digital Thailand’ vision. Ericsson also has a long running history in Thailand, with the 3-day event marking 111 years in Thailand.
Secretary General of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), Thailand, Takorn Tantasith says,
We expect to have broadband connectivity everywhere in Thailand, both big cities and over 75,000 villages nationwide by 2018.
Along with the fixed internet deployment, we plan to release more spectrum bandwidth of 380 MHz by 2020, which will add to the existing 420 MHz already allocated to the telecommunications industry.
This will handle the rising demand for online services, IoT and innovative applications as the country transforms into a Digital Thailand
In September last year, Ericsson also launched Ericsson Garage France, an open lab for students, start-ups, major corporations and Ericsson staff with ambition to develop new concepts based on a co-design approach to innovation In its initial phase, the Ericsson Garage France is providing access to a pre-5G (LTE evolutions including Narrow Band IoT) platform, in particular for prototyping innovative applications for connected objects. Expect these startups to be among the first working with the 5G technology.