The Fourth Industrial Revolution Will Be Built on 5G, Says Verizon CEO

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg says that 5G is much more than just your typical mobile network speed improvement. 5G is a transformative technology that will power the Fourth Industrial Revolution and chan...
The Fourth Industrial Revolution Will Be Built on 5G, Says Verizon CEO
Written by Rich Ord
  • Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg says that 5G is much more than just your typical mobile network speed improvement. 5G is a transformative technology that will power the Fourth Industrial Revolution and dramatically change society in the process. Like the three Industrial Revolution’s before this one, the innovations that are enabled by 5G are what will define this technology advancement.

    Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, explains at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas how 5G is core to the next era of technology transformation:

    5G Will Change Everything

    Last year Verizon launched the first 5G network with 5G Home. There is so much to come from 5G this year and the years to come. 5G will change everything. The pace of technology change that we have seen in the last decade has been fast. The only thing we know for sure is that the pace of change is going to be faster in the future. We are going to see technology changes that are going to transform people, businesses, and society.

    We are facing multiple challenges on this earth, our daily work life, things around us, climate change, and we are heading into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Think about all of these challenges and the Fourth Industrial Revolution together with 5G. Together with all the new technology acronyms like VR, AR, AI, and more. All of that together is really what we are talking about when it comes to the technology change that is inevitable that we are going to see in the future.

    The Fourth Industrial Revolution Will Be Built on 5G

    For us here we are on the cloud. It’s really to see that we are using this change and shape it in a direction that is actually transforming and doing good. The next area of technology advancement is going to be built on 5G. Most importantly, this is a different industrial revolution. The first one was the steam engine. The second one was electricity and the third one was digitization. All of them have a general purpose technology as a base. Then you innovated tremendously on it.

    The steam engine, of course, on steamboats connecting continents, trade resulting. Electricity changed everything. Then of course, with digitalization that brought out all the PC computers, the internet and all of that. These were enormous transformations. The general technology for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is actually the total connectivity that 5G can bring. That’s what I see as a huge opportunity for all of us and our society to use in the next era of technology transformation.

    5G is a Quantum Leap Compared to 4G

    So what is 5G? 5G is a promise of so much than just an increase in wireless technology. From the beginning we had the 1G, the 2G, the 3G, and then the 4G. They were sort of leaps of differences when it comes to speed and throughput. When we think about 5G we think about 10 gigabits per second for throughput. We think about 10x improvement in latency. We think about 1,000 times more data volume to the network. It’s just radically different. It’s a quantum leap compared to 4G.

    We have already done some real type of examples. We had an Indianapolis 500 driver that had blacked out windows driving extremely fast with 5G. Latency was so low you could actually drive it.

    Those type of things require innovation. Innovation requires a lot of different people and constituencies working with us. When I think about technology I also think a lot about how that can do good for our society. We are entering an era of more challenging things around the world and technology is one of the most important things that can transform it and make it sustainable. At Verizon, we call that human ability. We coined that word because we think about the human in the middle of technology to do right.

    The Eight Currencies of 5G

    When I think about 5G one of the big differences when we started developing 5G it was thought about giving a new type of solution for industry and for society. Ultimately consumers will have it. The capabilities of earlier wireless technology usually have speed and throughput assets as a different capability. We have eight capabilities in 5G. I call them the eight currencies.

    The Eight Currencies of 5G

    With the eight currencies of 5G you can do a service on them, you can monetize on them, you can build on them. This is very different than any previous wireless technology. There’s the Peak Data Rate and Mobile Data Volume, but it’s also the Mobility. It’s also how many Connected Devices that you can have. It’s Energy Efficiency and Service Deployment. And then, of course, it’s Reliability and Latency. There are eight currencies that 5G can give to the user. Whether it’s a device, a person, or an industry, that depends on how we are going to innovate on that.

    It’s important that we have already started on a journey. Verizon started years ago to start building a network because you need a lot of fiber and you need a lot of dense networks to build these eight currencies. You need real estate to do mobile edge compute. Not only that you need spectrum. In some cases you need millimeter wave spectrum that is giving you enormous throughput and bandwidth.

    Peak Rate and Thoughput

    What I’m excited about is what innovation can we do on this currency? Let’s talk about the currencies that we have here. The Peak Rate and the Throughput are extremely important when it comes to doing things with speed. The first thing that comes to mind is how quickly can you download a movie on 5G. Today on 4G it takes 3 to 4 minutes with a 90-minute movie. It’s going to take you 10 seconds when you have ultra-wideband. So that’s a use case, but that’s really to limit yourself with what you can do with it.

    There’s so much more that you can do when you have that type of Speed and Throughput. It’s a quantum leap compared to what we have today. It’s about rethinking how you can use the increased speed and throughput when you talk about speed at 10 gigabits per second and throughput probably 1000 times more than today. I’m excited about those two currencies, but there are other currencies.

    Mobility and Connected Devices

    Two other currencies are Mobility and Connected Devices. Mobility or mobile connections, that’s how it’s actually measured in speed. In a 4G network today you can basically capture a radio signal up to 350 kilometers per hour. In 5G it’s roughly 500 kilometers per hour. Why does that matter? Think about high speed trains. Think about things that are going to move extremely fast in the future that are going to bring efficient transportation. With 5G you can captures that.

    When it comes to IoT and Connected Devices, one of the limitations of wireless technology today is that you can roughly connect 100,000 devices per square kilometer with 4G. With 5G you can do 1 million. Suddenly you can have massive IoT in order to transform big cities, industry, or behaviours where we need to address challenges that we have today. These two currencies are also very different and address different business cases.

    Service Deployment and Energy Efficiency

    Let’s talk about two other currencies or capabilities, Service Deployment and Energy Efficiency. Service Deployment is a little hard to explain, but what it’s really about if flexible service deployment where you can match your software with specific customer needs. Think about if you want to do a virtual classroom with five different cities and you want them to have the same software. Today on the 4G network that would take me weeks or even months.

    The promise of 5G is that can go down to minutes where we can spin the new service based on the software demands of the customer. These are enormous changes. We just need to think how can we innovate on that?

    Now there is of course Energy Efficiency. Here the world is facing the challenges of climate change and our industry needs to think about all of the equipment we are using and that everything we are using is improving how much CO2 we are doing. There are a lot of things coming out but we just need to continue and we need to do that collectively.

    5G is promising to reduce up to 90 percent of the power usage that we have with 4G. This is about making the Fourth Industrial Revolution a positive change. The first and second industrial revolutions produced a lot of CO2 emissions because they were the steam engines and electricity. Here we have a chance together to actually power and uniquely address those two as well.

    Latency and Reliability

    The last two currencies are Latency and Reliability. On the latency side today in the mobile networks we can get to 100 milliseconds or 50 milliseconds. In 5G we will go down to 10 milliseconds. Why is that important? Everything realtime, AR, VR, needs to come down to at least 20 milliseconds in order to avoid delays. There are so many other use cases you can do as well.

    Latency and Reliability are very important in the network. It comes down to how we can innovate. It’s just so dramatic how much difference with what you can do things with 5G than with the previous technology cycles.

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