Just a month ago you would be considered brave just to suggest that 5G news would be overshadowed by, well, anything. And yet, 5G seems to be not only launching and gaining traction but being boosted by COVID-19.
A snapshot of the virtual MWC20 that is being hosted this week, shows 5G is well on the way to being finally – and properly – here. There are a range of use cases being touted and promoted and there is much agreement about the fact that 5G is not about 5G. In fact, 5G news is dominated by words like ‘partnership’ and ‘ecosystem’ and a multi-tiered approach to intelligent connectivity.
COVID-19 is itself providing a boost to 5G as networks are stretched to breaking point and operators scramble to provide capacity for our current – and future – needs.
Companies are also announcing 5G handsets, generally delayed announcements from the delayed MWC show (how long ago do those discussions seem now).
In Australia, Telstra has put planned job cuts on hold and increased investment in 5G this year as a response to the COVID-19 crisis.
One bit of 5G news that resonates is the 5G robot in China, that uses high-res cameras and infrared thermometers to test five people at a time for COVID-19, mainly in airports. The clever bit, as if a 5G enabled robot wasn’t clever, is that it is connected to a big data resource – in the cloud, obviously – that analyses the data, makes decisions based on the data and sets tracing processes in motion. The type of decisions it can make are whether a group or person needs to be isolated and whether summoning support is necessary.
Suddenly 5G seems solid and here and whether or not this final push has been triggered by COVID-19 will not matter in the long term.
As one commentator at the MWC20 virtual event said, ‘we may be some years away from remote surgery’ but we will see some great innovations this year.
What is refreshing is that enterprise or Government applications can also be innovative applications, such as the 5G enabled robot.
What will be interesting is to see what 5G news comes from the fact that Xiaomi has gone back to work, opening most of its retail stores and what applications the expected flush of 5G handset announcements triggers.
5G news for the rest of the year looks set to be interesting. Let’s hope it can lift the cloud created by COVID-19.