5G wireless matters to smart cities

By Matt Hamblen

CES 2018 in Las Vegas featured a number of 2018 predictions for 5G wireless rollouts which could prove vital to city CIO’s who need faster bandwidth and lower latency connections to self-driving vehicles and a variety of video sensors.

At one keynote session, CES attendees heard from Baidu, Verizon and Qualcomm executives on their plans for 5G rollouts. Entitled “Mobile Innovation: How 5G will enable the future,” the entire session was videotaped and available for  video replay. Sue Marek, editor in chief of SDxCentral moderated.

Baidu Vice Chairman Qi Lu described the Chinese company’s plans to build a production version of the L4 self-driving shuttle in that country in 2018. He said it would rely on Baidu’s open artificial intelligence platform, which helps assimilate the many data inputs from shuttle sensors. Fast 5G speeds and low latency will be key to making such a shuttle work.

In a related press  press release at CES, Baidu announced Apollo 2.0, an updated platform for autonomous driving and revealed plans to launch a short-route autonomous vehicle pilot project in Los Angeles by the end of 2018. It will provide services for persons with disabilities and senior communities.

Panelists described 5G as offering latency as low as 1 millisecond, many times lower than 4G. Verizon Chief Technology Officer Hans Vestberg said his company has been able to show 1 Gbps to 5 Gbps speeds at up to 2,000 feet on residential 5G trials. He reiterated an earlier Verizon prediction that three to five U.S. communities (none were named) would be running Verizon’s version of pre-5G by year’s end. (AT&T was not on the panel, but committed in a January press release to launch mobile 5G in 12 unnamed U.S. cities by the end of 2018.)

Qualcomm CDMA President Christiano Amon said the latest 5G NR (New Radio) standard, approved by the 3GPP in December, means it is possible 5G-capable smartphones will be running on a 5G network a year from now at CES in 2019. He predicted some 5G-ready smartphones will be shown by end of 2018, but didn’t offer any details. Qualcomm last year introduced the Snapdragon X50 5G modem family to support 5G NR over mmWave for smartphones and mobile devices. Some of the details on the chipset are included in a downloadable Qualcomm briefing paper released last September at Fierce Markets.

While 5G will require smartphone users to get a new phone supporting a 5G antenna, Amon suggested the new models won’t necessarily cost much more. That’s because memory requirements will be smaller, given the nature of the new 5G networks where so much data remains in the cloud.


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