Published in Mobiles

Cambridge warns that 5G race is unnecessary

by on10 August 2015

Stop shoving

An association which brings together top players in the mobile industry has warned against rushing to 5G. 

Cambridge Wireless said that the headlong rush into 5G is an unnecessary technology treadmill.

Cambridge Wireless sponsored a debate chaired by Bob Schukai, head of advanced product innovation at Thomson Reuters to discuss if 5G was needed.

The "Yes" side included the head of standards and industrial affairs at Samsung Electronics Research Institute Howard Benn. The "No" camp had strategy VP of embedded technology company u-blox Tony Milbourn.

The debate focused on 5G requirements as stated by the leading operator trade associations. Benn said that 5G "is the next generation of mobile carrier incubated radio access network technology, ready for early service adopters by 2020."

Milbourn pointed out that "we have benefited hugely from standards; 2G built a momentum big enough to justify significant R&D, which in turn drove down costs to make the market big enough for more R&D, and so on. But the standards-making machine has now moved to a point where it is defining things beyond the needs of the consumer".

"Essentially, it's like washing machines... there is a rapid growth in the supply of washing machines before everybody has one, but once people can wash their clothes easily it becomes a replacement market, where the differentiation is the colour of the knobs," he added.

"Consumer cellular is at that point right now. The area for investment is coverage, not yet another standard that sucks capital out of operators and delivers something that consumers don't need," said Milbourn.

But Milbourn added that his argument does not apply to M2M or IoT. "For a new connected world we do need new standards, urgently," he told the audience.

Speaking in defence of 5G, Howard Benn said "we need 5G because history tells us that we can't predict what services will be popular from 2020 to 2030, so we need a super-efficient and super-flexible system to cover all bases."

Gooner Schukai said "Our insatiable appetite to consume content on a variety of screens means that we have a responsibility to think about the infrastructure needed to support this level of data consumption with speed and security across wearable devices, cars, phones, computers and sensors — in fact anything that needs a connection to the wireless infrastructure."

The vote against 5G indicated that 5G, and future of wireless connectivity in general, was so vital to every industry sector, and every citizen, that the development needed to embrace a wider constituency. It was clear that there is a need to consider the wider business models necessary to lead the industry, rather than only focusing on the technologies, he said.

Last modified on 10 August 2015
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