Speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this morning (3 March), KT chairman Chang-Gyu Hwang said the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, of which KT is a sponsor, would be “the first ever 5G Olympics”. Other industry figures have predicted that the 5G infrastructure, which is vital to facilitating the burgeoning ‘internet of things’, will not be ready on a large scale until 2020.
Hwang said the exponential increase in speed, capacity and connectivity provided by 5G would “accelerate the future”. In the case of the 2018 Winter Olympics, this would include interactive mobile viewing experiences incorporating virtual reality, he said. Driverless cars, real-time language translation services and “immersive hologram content” also featured in Hwang’s vision of the future.
“We are so close,” he said. “We only need to wait a few years.”
Joining him on stage, Orange chairman and CEO Stéphane Richard suggested 2020 or 2022 as possible dates for the emergence of 5G on “a massive scale”. 5G is set to offer data transmission speeds of more than 2 gigabits per second compared to current 4G specifications of up to 300 megabits per second.
5G will “support the rise of the connected objects era”, Richard said, adding that by 2020 between 30 to 50 billion objects will be connected to the internet.
He argued that the applications of such technology “must continue to enhance customer experiences” and suggested that technology will increasingly develop its understanding of the real world and human experiences.
“Imagine autonomous cars that will connect with road signs to prevent accidents,” he said. “It will be possible to remote control everything.”
Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN), an alliance of global telecom operators, is presenting its whitepaper on the development of the 5G infrastructure at Mobile World Congress this week.
Günther Oettinger, the European Commission’s lead on the digital economy, said there remained a huge amount of work to do, including upgrading existing 4G infrastructure, before 5G would become a reality.
“5G is crucial to the completion of our digital economy,” he said.