Scouts connect all over the world

The World Organization of the Scout Movement held the Jamboree on the Air – Jamboree on the Internet, the JOTA-JOTI from October 20-22. For some 60 years, scouts from all over the world have been meeting using amateur radio, and in more recent years, the internet. My son attended this event for the first time this year. With 40 hours of being connected (and less than eight hours’ sleep in total), he took part in an event that unites scouts from all over the world.

Scouts connect all over the world

Radio days

When it all started, radio was the way to communicate. I myself used to communicate over amateur radio with other parts of the world when I was young. I never learned Morse code, but met friends from places as far as the radio could reach. I remember the postcards being sent from the stations you connected to. (CQ CQ CQ SL3ZYS was Morse code for the station where I grew up). Those were great times.

Small world

During JOTA-JOTI, my son just logged on to his computer and in a click of a button had the possibility to connect to virtually every scout across the globe, given he had their address . The internet has truly made the world smaller. But to be completely honest, many of the scouts in my son’s group were mainly there because they had the possibility to play games around the clock. But even if we live in Sweden , one of the most connected countries in the world, the experience for the scouts trying to play games was somewhat limited. My son could not play Overwatch, for example – a game he usually spends hours upon hours on, improving his skills. That weekend, Minecraft was the best he could do online, and the problem was not the lack of bandwidth he experienced during the event, but rather the bad response time.

5G and the future

At Ericsson we constantly talk about the future of telecommunications, moving into the 5G world where both bandwidth and response times will need be significantly better than today. A very well configured 4G network could possibly be good enough for many online gamers, but I am confident that the mobile network around where my son spent his weekend would not handle the 50+ scouts connecting at the same time. The fixed connection in the house didn’t manage it. I wouldn’t bet on 4G doing it!

But these are exactly the issues we seek to solve with 5G: response times and bandwidth not only for extreme industrial applications, but also to support consumers with enough bandwidth and speed to be able to play games online without any problems. Many operators need 5G for connecting homes, and this is already in the works in many places around the world. One example is what we are doing with Verizon in the US, testing fixed wireless solutions over 5G.

The JOTA-JOTI started with scouts communicating over amateur radio. When fixed connections and internet arrived, much of the communication moved to these new platforms, making the world a much smaller, and more accessible place. Maybe this event will eventually move back to radio. We have not seen what 5G will bring to the world. We might have ideas on what to use it for, but the implementations will be quite different from what we think of today.

When we  bought our first computer in 1983, we were first family in our neighborhood that had one. All the kids would be at our place. We could never have dreamt of something like the internet. We just played games for most the part. Kids today connect their devices where the best connection is, using the internet to chat, talk, play and have fun. It’s a very different world, and the future is ahead of us.

Maybe the JOTA-JOTI in 2025 will be a 5G event: kids meeting in virtual worlds, seeing each other online with no delays in communication… I know for a fact my son would love to have the chance to prove his skills in Overwatch. This year, the fixed network could not offer him that. I’m confident that 5G will.

To learn more about 5G and gaming, check out what researchers at the 5G Research and Innovation Laboratory in King's College London are working on.

The team is exploring how 5G can change the way games are played, dramatically reducing speed and memory issues while creating a safe, ad-free learning environment through curation and cloud technology.

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