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Intel Puts a Face on 5G -- But the Face Is the Terminator's

The next wave of cellular technologies will allow telemedicine and fast-talking connected cars -- and even pave the way for people to become a Terminator.

Everyone likes the idea of faster wireless networks, but it can be a little tough to get all excited about the next new networking standard.

Such is the case with 5G, the successor to current LTE networks that is expected to launch commercially by around 2020. Its key benefits are far faster speeds, delays as low as one millisecond and the ability to support billions of devices.

Intel tried to make 5G feel a little more real Wednesday, showing the kinds of devices that will take advantage of the new networks, ranging from connected cars and scooters to robot arms as well as more traditional mobile devices. Intel used lasers to represent the normally invisible wireless connections among the devices — connections that could be up to 100 times faster than current speeds.

But it’s not just about faster speeds. One of the key elements of 5G is being able to offer the super-low delay needed for things like tele-medicine while also supporting devices that might need to send data infrequently and require a battery that can last 10 years.

These new connected devices “need very different sorts of network characteristics,” said Ericsson VP Paul McNamara, who was part of a panel discussion at the Intel Developer Forum that is taking place this week in San Francisco. “You need to have a network that is very adaptable.”

Being able to manage which needs are critical will also be important. With 5G, for example, you might have a car deploying its air bag in a crash that needs to get a message to nearby cars to brake immediately. At the same time, a connected toaster might also be pinging to say its crumb tray is full.

While the smartphone isn’t going away, it will be augmented by all kinds of wearable devices, said Alex Choi, chief technology officer for Korea’s SK Telecom. Some sensors may become part of the body itself, Choi said.

While not for everyone, Intel VP Sandra Rivera predicted that at least some percentage of people will want chips implanted in their body.

“Anyone can be a Terminator,” Choi said.

Just what 5G technology will mean for a world of connected cars and other devices will be a key topic at our upcoming Code/Mobile conference. Speakers include Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg and AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie. For registration and other details, check out our Code/Mobile website.

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