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Like all “next-gen” wireless technology, 5G will enable faster internet speeds. The challenge with designing advancements such as 5G, insiders say, is that they must keep up with not only how we use technology today, but also how we are going to use it for the next decade or more.
This goes beyond simply viewing clips on YouTube without having to wait for the video to load. 5G will also be used for streaming the large amounts of data required for self-driving cars, and even in performing surgeries remotely.
It will also handle the ever-growing number of devices that must communicate with each other. This is known as the internet of things (IoT), and it refers to the increasing connectedness of devices that we use in our day-to-day lives -- including lamps, coffee machines, and televisions.
“The most exciting thing is that the capabilities of 5G will enable a whole new paradigm of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications using cellular networks,” said Dr Beeshanga Abewardana Jayawickrama, an electronics and telecommunications expert at the University of Technology Sydney.
This will allow your autonomous car to communicate with the sensors at a traffic light, or on a highway, thanks to the improvements that 5G promises in reducing the latency of these devices in communicating with each other.
“As the car is driving, instead of having to go to the cloud to gather information about maps or traffic, it can just go and speak to the infrastructure around it,” Intel’s Topol added. “Maybe the lamp post knows what the traffic is like ahead, because of the other cars that have passed before it.”
The exponential growth in demand for video over mobile means 4G networks will eventually buckle. For 5G to provide the answer, does broadcast capability need to be built into the specification? Adrian Pennington reports.
With video-over-mobile traffic forecast by almost everyone to multiply exponentially in the next five years and represent 70-80% of all traffic by 2021, something, somewhere has got to give. Mobile spectrum is only finite, after all.
“At a certain point the existing 4G LTE technology will not be sustainable to cope with the massive growth in video data,” says Volker Held, head of innovation marketing at Nokia. “We need a new structure. This is the kernel of the 5G business case. Utilising it means we won’t need to talk about bandwidth constraints for the foreseeable future.”
The fifth generation mobile network promises much, but there is life yet in 4G, commonly known as 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) despite considerable debate about which implementation of 4G matches the ITU standard. Candidates include 3GPP LTE which is often branded 4G-LTE, LTE Advanced (also known as 4G+) and WiMAX which is deployed by some carriers in the US.
“It is uncommon to see operators sell price plans that do not include 4G access if the plan has a data allowance,” says Tony Maroulis, research manager, Ampere Analysis. “There was a period around 2010 when AT&T, T-Mobile USA and a few other operators advertised DC-HSPA+ as 4G, even though it only achieved data speeds of 42Mbps. 4G LTE is a more efficient technology and it generally starts at 50Mbps, with the potential to reach higher speeds when more spectrum bandwidth is added.”
As an example, in France, Spain, Poland, Belgium, and Moldova, Orange’s 4G coverage has surpassed 80% of the population. In the US, Verizon covers 313 million people with 4G LTE, and its VZW 4G LTE network now spans 2.5 million square miles. Some 60% of data consumption over those services is video of some kind including support for YouTube.
“LTE Broadcast – multicast – was seen as a solution to the impending video demand, but it never materialised as the demand shifted from linear TV to video on demand, which requires an individual, unicast, connection,” says Maroulis.
4G networks support MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service), which enables broadcasts to multiple devices over cellular networks. MBMS allows a UDP style of broadcasting to mobile devices by reducing the need for a unicast connection for every device and reducing the bandwidth required for cellular data.
How Media Demand Drives Network Evolution?
It is forecast that 5G will drive content consumption, including mobile media, mobile advertising, home broadband and TV, and improve experiences across a broad range of new immersive and interactive technologies – unleashing the full potential of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and new media.
The average monthly traffic per 5G subscriber will grow from 11.7GB in 2019 to a staggering 84.4GB per month in 2028, at which point video will account for 90 percent of all 5G traffic.
Forecast to provide $140 billion in cumulative revenues (2021-2028), expanded AR and VR experiences may also enable a whole new channel for content producers to reach consumers.
Immersive and new media applications – applications and capabilities that are currently non-existent will reach an unprecedented scale by 2028, forecast to generate more than $67 billion annually or the value of the entire current global mobile media market – video, music and games in 2017.
How Are Businesses Tuning in to 5G?
All industries, not just media and entertainment, are having to adapt to the changes within the business environment, consumers’ habits and public expectations. Businesses are trying to predict how 5G will transform and change their industry, society, and global competitiveness, as well as starting to formulate a strategy to embrace the capabilities of 5G. Although without the promise of what 5G can provide, growth in many industries may remain stagnant or even decline.
As early as 2025, 57 percent of global wireless media revenues will be generated by using the super-high-bandwidth capabilities of 5G networks and the devices that run on 5G. The low latency of these networks means that no video will stall or stop – live streaming and large downloads will happen in the blink of an eye. The report points to the following breakouts in revenue as 5G networks overtake 3G and 4G by offering new capabilities:
- 2022: nearly 20 percent of total revenues – $47 billion of $253 billion
- 2025: more than 55 percent of total revenues – $183 billion of $321 billion
- 2028: nearly 80 percent of total revenues – $335 billion of $420 billion
How Media Demand Drives Network Evolution: The “5G Economics of Entertainment Report” forecasts that 5G will accelerate content consumption, including mobile media, mobile advertising, home broadband and TV, and improve experiences across a broad range of new immersive and interactive technologies – unleashing the full potential of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and new media.
The average monthly traffic per 5G subscriber will grow from 11.7GB in 2019 to 84.4GB per month in 2028, at which point video will account for 90 percent of all 5G traffic.
Evolved 3G and 4G networks would offer a degraded experience because the capacity will be insufficient to handle the increased video viewing time, content evolution to higher resolutions, more embedded media and immersive experiences.