I don’t know what goes on in the parking lot at your workplace, but Verizon says the one at its Basking Ridge, NJ office was recently the site of a world first in telecom history.
A few weeks ago, Verizon and Nokia set up receiving equipment outside that parking garage to run tests of the New Radio (NR) 5G standard released by 3GPP, the Third Generation Partnership Project industry group that develops telecom specifications. Verizon is hailing it as the first outdoor demo of the new 5G standard outside of a lab setting.
As first reported in Fierce Wireless, various live interactive VR sessions and 4K video streams were transmitted simultaneously during the experiment. Latency was pared down to just 1.5 milliseconds, which Verizon points out is “150 times faster than you can blink your eye.” Throughput speeds of up to 1.8 Gbps were also achieved.
Shortly before this successful test, 3GPP issued the standalone (SA) Release 15 specs for 5G. According to the 3GPP news release, this means “another essential step of standardization of 5G has been successfully completed. Now the whole industry is taking the final sprint towards 5G commercialization.”
With Verizon planning to launch the U.S.’s first 5G residential broadband service in four cities later this year, it certainly looks like the 5G finish line is in sight.
What will that really mean for business end users? Some potential answers came out of a 5G panel discussion at the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto recently.
One feature of note is the impact on response time, which will enable AR, VR and other applications where lower latency is absolutely essential. Yet all of the panelists emphasized that 5G holds greater value to businesses beyond lower latency and faster transmission speeds — such as the need for carriers to leverage network slicing, ultra-latency and on-demand services to fulfill the needs of business customers.
Network slicing? As the panel explained, this allows traffic to be “customized” for certain applications, which is a radical change with 5G that isn’t really possible in 4G.
“Creating customized networks within networks can add value, whether it’s public safety or taxis or whatever,” added moderator Eric Smith, VP of regulatory affairs at the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.
The word ‘customized’ cropped up a lot during the discussion. In short, 5G will likely open the door to more specialized services and applications for business customers — pushing applications and services to the edge and drilling right down to the individual level.
5G will, of course, result in increased connectivity, which will show up in connected vehicles and smart cities, and eventually revolutionizing the manufacturing industry.
None of this will happen overnight. According to panelist Kyriakos Vergos, VP of North American sales at Airspan Networks, 5G challenges (at least in Canada) include a lack of dark fiber, a shortage of available spectrum and a dearth of 5G standards specifically for device makers.
Canada also needs to develop “strong regulatory frameworks” around 5G, said panel member Tim Dinesen, executive VP of networks at Xplorenet Communications.
Still, if Verizon’s recent test run demonstrated anything, it’s that 5G is finally poised to get out of the parking lot, so to speak. Let’s hope carriers, regulators, hardware makers, solution providers and customers are already doing their part to be ready for the race.