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Why Should You Care About 5G Internet? Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg Explains. (Video)

5G is about the industrial Internet, with "hundreds of times more devices being connected."

Asa Mathat

Ninety percent of the world will have 3G or 4G Internet by 2020, but 5G will have a dramatic impact on business, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg said today at the Code/Mobile conference at The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

“2G, 3G and 4G were designed for consumers, with better throughput and higher speeds,” Vestberg said. “5G is designed for the industrial internet.”

For example, Ericsson is part of a new initiative to build an Internet-of-Things service for winemakers, along with Intel, MyOmega and Telenor Connexion; the notion is that sensors in the vineyards, which will debut in Germany, will be able to detect and analyze air, soil and sun conditions, upload that data to the cloud and inform smarter predictions.

Vestberg also suggested that a 5G network with very low latency levels would be one possible solution to let autonomous cars talk to one another in the future. Such a network, he argued, would be able to handle “hundreds of times more devices being connected.”

That said, he acknowledged that older networks will still be very important. Only 600 million people have a 4G device today, he said, while most people in countries like India, Indonesia and China are still making the transition from feature phones.

Also on Vestberg’s mind: Mobile payments, which the World Bank says are used today by around 700 million people. Such platforms first gained prominence in countries without reliable banking systems, but he expects they will continue to grow in importance.

Vestberg has been with Ericsson since 1988, assuming the CEO role in 2010. In March, he talked with Code/Mobile organizer Ina Fried about the company’s ongoing lawsuit against Apple and the future of net neutrality:

Ericsson alleges that some of Apple’s devices violate patents it owns that have been used in setting the 2G and 4G LTE wireless communications standards. Apple and Xiaomi are the only carriers with whom Ericsson does not currently have patent licensing agreements, Vestberg said.

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