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Ericsson at MWC19— feel the 5G!

2018 was a great year for 5G—but in 2019, we’ll truly enter the 5G era. And that fact was nowhere more obvious than the Ericsson hall at MWC19.

Strategic editor, Strategy and Business Performance team

Band playing live on 5G
Band playing live on 5G

Strategic editor, Strategy and Business Performance team

Strategic editor, Strategy and Business Performance team

You couldn’t really go anywhere on the Ericsson floor without hearing about 5G. And you can’t talk about 5G without talking about low latency.

Low latency is a big deal with 5G.  It’s what separates 5G from everything else when it comes to things like remote surgery or gaming or putting applications on the network edge.  We’ve illustrated this with basketball and American football stars playing in VR goggles, and it’s why we have the 5G rock band here in Barcelona too.

It also helps when you just need to reach out and touch someone—or in this case, play a game using 5G and haptic technology to collaborate virtualy.

First exhibition in Europe using 5G with eSports

And speaking of games...yesterday we saw another 5G first! At the Telefónica booth, there was the first exhibition in Europe to demonstrate the advantages of using 5G connectivity applied to eSports--all over Ericsson's 5G network.

During the demonstration, Alejandro “Puni” Navarro, Enrique “Katru” Lapina, Daniel “Oney” Flórez, and Samuel “Samy” Mateos, members of the Movistar Riders Call of Duty professional team, demonstrated the experience of playing on a 5G network the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, where low latency is fundamental to winning the game.  See a video here.

World's first 5G tweet on a commerical, 3GPP network--from the Ericsson hall!

OH! And speaking of firsts (there's just too many things to keep track of!), we had a world first in the Ericsson hall today.  We sent the first tweet over a 5G network at MWC Barcelona.

We also did a Periscope session live while connected to our 5G network via a 5G mobile router prototype from Inseego and for the first live tweet over 5G at Mobile World Congress we used a 5G smartphone prototype from LG.

Spiders dancing over 5G

Then there are spider robots.  I mean, who isn’t fascinated by a dancing spider robot?

This particular spider robot – not that we’ve seen many – isn’t really a robot in some ways but six robot arms connected in the cloud, said Hubertus Munz, Johan Lundsjö and Norbert Reider of Ericsson Research.  Each joint is independently controlled, which requires tight collaboration – especially to dance!  But with all motion control in the cloud, none of the processing is on the actual robot, which makes it super flexible in terms of deploying it in industrial contexts; a reliable integration of new robots and other robot equipment to the production network becomes as easy as possible.

So then the dancing.  The robot is connected at speeds representing 5G and 4G latency.  At 5G, it’s got some moves!  At 4G, it’s, ummm, well—let’s just say it’s a bit shaky.

Check it out in action in this video from Lisa Hockaday Jackson.

If you want a deeper dive into cloud robotics – and the four different types of industrial robots – check out this post from Hubertus and three colleagues: What will 5G bring to industrial robotics?

How do we make money on 5G now?

I was dazzled by the booth this year – it was so tactile.  Every demo seemingly had something you could pick up or use or put on or at least a cool button to push.  It’s a great lesson that in a connected world, everything doesn’t have to recede into screens.

But for all that, the demo that got me thinking the most in a practical, business sort of way was a screen and a seminar.  Ericsson ConsumerLab has done new research with more than 30,000 people in 22 countries.  This represents the views of more than 800 million smartphone users around the world!

And this forms the basis of some fascinating thinking around 5G consumer use cases.  This is clearly how operators will make money on 5G first.

In the seminar, Jasmeet Sethi Singh, debunked four preconceived notions on 5G. Instead he put forth four consumer realities with 5G:

  • 5G means better network performance for consumers where it matters most (think video!)
  • Operators will make more money if they think beyond mobile broadband
  • Smartphones alone will not drive 5G. People expect new devices to emerge.  5G needs an iconic device – a topic explored in this blog post.
  • Usage patterns will change. Expect 200 GB/month to be the new normal.

Guest Nikula Vessa-Pekka, Executive Vice President of Elisa Finland, emphasized this point as the driver behind their strong growth.  Elisa encourages true unlimited, charging by speed tier.  This is the future.


Graphic of 5G use cases


Then I went around the demo on this topic and talked with one of Ericsson’s true 5G thought leaders – Peter Linder.  He talked me through the most important use cases (again, think video!) including cars that “see through” other cars to monitor traffic and also “use places” such as universities, venues, corporate campuses and innovation districts.

Peter tells people that 5G at the beginning will be like going to college.  We’ve got around 30 use cases on our big chart.  These are like the classes you need to take to get a degree.  You will need to focus on a couple at the beginning, choose others to reflect your market situation and so on.  So it will take some time and experimentation.  But the payoff will be there.

And I can't wait to see it.

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