Barcelona has dressed 5G with motive of the Mobile World Congress (MWC19) which has been held this week in the Catalan capital. The esteladas independentistas or the Spanish flags that hang from the balconies of the city have left their visual prominence to thousands of posters of manufacturers of mobiles or chips that have flooded facades and canopies with the motto 5G. Few users know that this abbreviation hides the technology that will shortly equip not only their phones, but autonomous cars, alarm systems or even virtual reality glasses with which you can attend live a football match or to any show without having to move from the sofa.
The 5G or fifth generation of mobile is already a technological reality, but It will take a few years to guide our routine. A recent report by Deloitte estimates that 25 telecommunications operators will launch 5G services throughout 2019 but only in one part of their territories, to which another 26 companies would be added in 2020. It also foresees that around 20 suppliers of mobile terminals launch this year to the market smartphones prepaired for this technology from the second quarter.
Precisely, the MWC19 of Barcelona it has become the showcase for the first 5G mobiles, each with different characteristics and claims for the public: the Huawei Mate X with folding screen; the LG V50 ThinQ 5G, with double screen, or the EnergizerPower Max P8100S, with a superbattery that promises autonomy for a week. They also saw the Xiaomi mi MIX 3 5G, the Nubia mini 5G, the ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G and the Samsung S10 5G, which the Korean company presented a few days earlier.
Despite the pompousness of some models with folding screens, 3D fingerprint reader or triple cameras, they all have two things in common: their high price and the Snapdragon 855, the Qualcomm chip with which they all work, which is the true heart of the device.
Of the prices, the Mate X has been announced for 2,299 euros and the Energizer for 1,600 euros. Only Xiaomi is saved, which will apply its philosophy of low cost also to 5G and will sell its model at 599 euros. The rest did not want to disclose the cost, but will be between 1,500 and 2,000 euros.
"5G will usher in what we call the era of invention, we have the ability to bring the scale of the mobile to everything else, it is much deeper than what we saw earlier with the transition to 4G or any advance of the wireless industries And it's not an exaggeration, the 5G and the artificial intelligence processing will mean billions of connected elements, huge amounts of data and all of them in the cloud, it will change the way we have file sharing, the purchases on-line, or the reproduction of contents ", said an exultant Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm, who has multiplied his appearances in the MWC because all the manufacturers and operators wanted to have their testimony in their presentations.
Keys to understanding
But why is the 5G going to revolutionize mobile telephony and will it give way to the so-called Industry 4.0 or fourth industrial revolution? There are three characteristics that differentiate it radically from the 4G that is currently used and that suppose a total technological disruption. The 5G connections they are 10 times faster (although laboratories have reached speeds 250 times faster), with average speeds of 20 Gbps. That is to say, that the downloads of data will be on a par with those of the current fixed fiber optic networks. For example, a 1GB movie can be downloaded in less than ten seconds. The 5G will revolutionize the way of viewing content enabling those who suppose a massive consumption of data such as television in 8K.
Second, multiply by a hundred the number of devices connected with the same number of antennas. This solves the problem of coverage in large agglomerations such as football stadiums and concerts. Telefónica and FC Barcelona presented the 5G Stadium project at the MWC that will turn Camp Nou into the first football stadium in Europe with standard 5G coverage.
In addition to the spectators will enjoy a communication without cuts, the placement of 360º cameras in different places of the Camp Nou without the need of cable will allow to broadcast an immersive experience to any spectator that is on the sofa of his house. With a virtual reality glasses, the spectator will be able to see the match from the box, next to the goal, near the bench, or, in short, choose the point of view that he wants in each moment, watching and listening to the game as if I was in the field.
However, the biggest advance of the 5G will be the reduction of the latency, the response time that a device takes to execute an order since the signal is sent to it. The lower, the faster the reaction of the device that we operate at a distance, either an autonomous driving car or a video conference. 5G reduces that delay to one millisecond, from more than 10 in 4G.
Thanks to this reduction, a team of surgeons performed a surgical intervention in the colon of a patient at the Hospital Clinic de Barcelona teleassisted on remote thanks to 5G Vodafone mobile technology, which was in the Fira in l'Hospitalet de Llobregat, where the MWC19, five kilometers from the hospital. The next step will be that the remote surgery, that is, the intervention, will not only be guided remotely by a doctor but will be executed by a robotic arm to replace the surgeons. The reduction of latency is also the basis of the autonomous car without driver, who must make decisions in a matter of milliseconds for its operation and to avoid accidents.
Other benefits of 5G are that it reduces network power consumption by 90%, and allows machine batteries such as alarms or sensors to last up to 10 years, something fundamental for the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), which will allow the feeding of cameras, sensors or alarms.
Plans for Spain
We are at the gates of 5G, but we will still have to wait a few years. In Spain, at least three until it is fully operational, according to the president of Telefónica, José María Álvarez-Pallete. Both Telefónica, Vodafone and Orange are already doing the first pilot projects but they do not yet have the frequencies that the new generation will support.
The Secretary of State for the Digital Agenda, Francisco Polo, has promised in Barcelona that, in spite of the electoral break, it will carry out the auction of the 700 megahertz band (MHz) in the first months of 2020 in order to comply with the deployment calendar of the 5G marked by the European Commission for June 30, 2020. A goal that seems difficult because that band is now occupied by television networks that, due to 4G, delayed their migration by more than a year. Both Pallete and his counterparts, the CEOs of Vodafone, Antonio Coimbra, and Laurent Paillasot, of Orange, have warned that if the Government seeks a fundraising effort in this auction and the EU does not curb its hyperregulatory eagerness, it will endanger the deployment of 5G on time.
The United States and Asia are, once again, ahead of Europe in the 5G race. AT & T and Verizon (USA), China Mobile and China Unicom and China Telecom (China); KDDI, SoftBank and NTT DoCoMo (Japan), and KT and SK Telecom (South Korea) have announced the 5G commercial deployment in 2019.
However, not everything in the 5G are technological mercedes. It also has its risks. For governments and companies, it is very attractive to control a technology that allows millions of devices to be managed remotely and for which communications from all States pass. In that context, the United States has launched a campaign against Huawei for unproven allegations of cyber espionage, through the back doors of their networks and equipment that would be at the service of the Chinese Government. Huawei took advantage of the MWC19 to defend itself against Trump and strengthen its alliance with European customers. "They have no proof, they have nothing, "a proud Guo Ping, rotating president of Huawei, said from the podium at his conference.
The Chinese manufacturer has only in Europe a market share of 35% in Spain that shoots up to 60% in new generation networks. The three national operators (Telefónica, Vodafone and Orange) they have it as their main supplier and it would be literally impossible for them to deploy a 5G network in time if Europe follow in the footsteps of the United States and vetora to the Chinese supplier. That is why they have come to your defense and ask for proof before any commercial reprisal.
The European Commission now has the floor to give a common answer to the problem. The European Commissioner for the Economy and Digital Society, Mariya Gabriel, told Mobile that they will soon have that answer on the table: "It is clear that Europe must have a common approach to this challenge. Otherwise, there is a risk of increased fragmentation due to divergent decisions taken by Member States that try to protect themselves, which damages the digital single market. Therefore, we are working on this important issue with priority. And the Commission is going to take action soon. "
ANDl 5G will represent 15% of global mobile connections by 2025, and around 30% of connections in markets such as China and Europe, and half of the total in the United States, according to the annual Mobile Economy report published annually by the GSMA, association of telecommunications operators that organizes the MWC19 from Barcelona.
The number of releases of 5G networks and compatible devices will increase significantly in 2019, which will activate the 5G commercial networks in 16 markets, after the first launches in South Korea and the United States.
It is estimated that mobile operators around the world are currently investing around 160,000 million dollars (140,000 million euros) per year in the expansion and updating of their networks, despite regulatory and competitive pressures.
Looking ahead, 5G is expected to contribute 2.2 trillion dollars to the global economy over the next 15 years, with key sectors such as manufacturing, public services and professional and financial services that benefit the most from the new technology. The number of global connections of the Internet of Things (IoT) will triple to 25,000 million by 2025, while global IoT revenues will quadruple to 1.1 billion dollars.
"The arrival of 5G is an important part of the global advance towards an era of intelligent connectivity that, together with developments in the Internet of Things, big data and artificial intelligence, is destined to be a key driver of economic growth in the coming years, "says Mats Granryd, CEO of the GSMA.