Yesterday’s Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) 5G conference gave us an excellent status update in relation to 5G, the next generation mobile phone technology. Every new generation of technology is known for something and typically becomes described in reference to the previous generation of technology. The first, analogue, mobile phone networks (later known as 1G) were all about mobility – a phone that you can carry with you. Having met the mobility requirements, 2G networks were all about being digital, which in practice meant text messaging, a network feature that had originally been intended for engineers performing tests, but consumers made into a cool new messaging channel. When 3G arrived it was all about multimedia, Hutchison 3 launching on the back of videos of premier league football, although for many 3G really meant mobile email. With the arrival of 4G the mobile phone experience started to get close to the broadband Internet experience we had become used to on a fixed connection - it became about mobile broadband.
So what will 5G be all about? The conference revealed a wide range of views: The Internet of Skills, more capacity, low latency, an enabler of applications and ubiquity were just a few. The difference with 5G is that is the first cellular telecoms technology to be designed from the ground up to meet a broad range of (currently) identified user needs. Use cases such as telemedicine, connected cars, media services, public safety and wireless replacement of the fixed network have been defined - to mention just a few. 5G will be the way people access the connected services they need in their daily lives for business or pleasure.
All of which means that 5G will be whatever you want it to be.
Andrew Keevil assists technology companies with strategy and marketing, specialising in new proposition development.