5G CityView Innovation Accelerator: A 5G Overview | City Possible angle-rightlearn more indicatorFill 1link icoFill 1PlayFill 1Fill 1

5G CityView Innovation Accelerator: A 5G Overview

What it is, why it matters, and how did we get there?

This article is an excerpt from the 5G CityView Innovation Accelerator at Dublin recap report.

Why 5G Matters

5G is the next evolution of mobile technology after 4G LTE. It is designed to bring faster speeds, higher capacity, lower latency, efficiency, reliability, and an ability to handle a huge number of connections.

The global economy is at a pivotal point as we see a move towards an increasingly connected society driven by the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Big Data. The pace of adoption
of these types of technologies will become the basis for long-term national economic growth. The application and impact of these emerging technologies will be underpinned by connectivity and, in particular, the type of connectivity that 5G offers.

Economists estimate the global economic impact of 5G in new goods and services will reach $12 trillion by 2035 as 5G moves mobile technology from connecting people to people and information, towards connecting people to everything. 5G could make possible the connection and interaction of billions of devices of almost any kind and collection of data from those devices in near real-time.

The Road to 5G

About every ten years, the world is presented with new technology for communication. With each upgrade came new applications: “0G” featured analog and 1G took analog wireless. Next came 2G with digital voice, 3G had a few apps with mobile data, and 4G has countless apps with broadband data.

When you look at the most popular apps developed over the years, many of them have nothing to do with making a phone call, observed Professor Luiz DaSilva, Director of CONNECTat Trinity College Dublin.

Instead, these apps were created to serve a purpose in a consumer’s everyday life from dating to shopping and getting around town. Now smartphone users are hailing rides, reserving accommodations, ordering dinner, and looking for a date, just to name a few. None of these apps would have been possible before 4G.

With the advent of 5G, the future of app development will be largely determined by other technology in our lives, predicted DaSilva.

We are already seeing this with the development of autonomous vehicles, AR/VR, manufacturing, and haptic feedback with low delay.

Apps will correspond with the latest technologies, DaSilva added, including those we haven’t thought of yet.

“The researchers that created the first generation of wireless networks couldn’t have imagined most of these applications,” said DaSilva. “To the same extent, we are designing for what we don’t know is yet to come. So we need the design to accommodate all that innovation that comes from other people.”

“The researchers that created the first generation of wireless networks couldn’t have imagined most of these applications,” said DaSilva. “To the same extent, we are designing for what we don’t know is yet to come. So we need the design to accommodate all that innovation that comes from other people.”

What Exactly is 5G?

With all this talk about the potential of 5G, experts have a difficult time explaining what it actually is. We all know about WiFi, but what you may not know is that the name doesn’t actually stand for anything—it was a marketing term that was invented. Using a play on the term Hi-Fi, marketers were able to use a word to represent something new. This allowed experts to talk about it in their marketing, painting a picture that consumers and manufacturers could easily understand. It was a brand of what was to come.

The same is true about 5G in that it’s not a technically defined term, explained David S. Ricketts, Innovation Fellow at Harvard TECH. While you could say that the “G” stands for “generation,” but that still doesn’t tell us what it is. In fact, the term 5G simply refers to all the cellular features and standards released until 6G comes along around 2030.

The telecom industry uses a similar strategy as the phone and vehicle manufacturers—when the market is saturated with the product that still works consumers will only upgrade for the promise of new features.

3GPP Standards: Sorting Reality from Marketing

When we set marketing aside for a moment, the only real thing about 5G is a set of standards documented by The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) (https://www.3gpp.org/). This online body publishes standards for cellphones and documents the tangible features that set them apart.

Each generation of cellular evolution typically includes between four and five releases before the next iteration. When we talk about 5G and its features, the reason experts don’t know what the future holds is because releases 17 and 18 haven’t been written yet.

5G CityView Innovation Accelerator Whitepaper 6

Source: Adapted by D. S. Ricketts, from original by Michael Steer
As we reflect on the evolution of the cell phone, real change didn’t happen until the 3G

network opened possibilities for innovation.

“3G is what made smartphones,” said Ricketts. “It wasn’t the iPhone, it was the third- generation network. When we talk about going to this next generation, what we’re really doing is enabling the next smartphone in the sense of technology we’ve never envisioned before.”

Learn more about 3GPP Standards, 5G features, mesh networks and more in the full 5G CityView Innovation Accelerator at Dublin recap report.


Featured Content

Read more about City Possible and the future of cities.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Receive the latest news and best practices shared by city innovators.

Join the
Community

Get access to exclusive tools and content.