By John Godfrey, Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Samsung Electronics America
Flash back to 2009.
Facebook is a neat new website you visit on your desktop during lunch – sometimes you spend the afternoon uploading vacation photos. When it’s time to head home, you walk outside to hail a cab – even though it’s pouring rain. If only there were a way to get weather updates in real time, or even a cab of your own. No matter – sitting on your doorstep when you arrive home are two DVDs from a new company called Netflix that ships movies directly to your house.
Now fast forward to 2019. Ten years is an unfathomably long period of time in the world of technology. The mobile applications driving today’s digital economy – from social networking and streaming services to ride-sharing apps – either look nothing like they did in 2009 or did not exist at all. Facebook is now the world’s second largest advertising platform; Netflix has gone on to pioneer the world of streaming entertainment, giving the likes of HBO a run for its money; and, ride sharing applications like Uber and Lyft were the stuff of fantasy.
Which begs the question – what enabled the back-of-the-napkin ideas of 2009 to mature into the cornerstones of today’s digital economy?
The answer is simple: exponentially more connectivity in more places, thanks to the advent of 4G LTE wireless technology.
With 4G, consumers were no longer dependent on a wired connection to access the internet at full speed. Thanks to the rise of smartphones, that capability was carried around in pockets across America. Consumers could enjoy new services everywhere, all day long. Constant, convenient availability is what turned social media, streaming media, and ride sharing—not to mention online shopping, casual gaming, and much more—into the centerpieces of our daily lives.
With 4G, the wireless network was now capable of moving large amounts of data almost anywhere. Combined with the computing and display powers of the smartphone, developers were empowered with a powerful wireless platform that could take their disruptive ideas from concept to scale.
Today, a decade after Americans got their first taste of the technologies that would change how we live, work and have fun, we are at another critical point of transformation when it comes to 5G.
Like its predecessor, next generation 5G technology is the platform upon which tomorrow’s economy will be built, adding high speed connectivity, low latency, and massive machine-to-machine connectivity to smartphones, wearables, connected cars, and IoT devices, all while powering AI and supercharging the flow of rich data.
If history is any lesson, the leap forward in technical performance of 5G will present a ripe platform for accelerated disruption. It will take time to build out the 5G network so that it can reach its full potential. Policy-makers can accelerate this process by making more spectrum available at low, medium, and high frequencies, and by streamlining regulations that slow deployment of 5G infrastructure.
In the meantime, it is important to remember that, as with 4G ten years ago, the most transformative applications of 5G will not always be clear right out of the gate.
Here is what we do know, and why the hype around 5G is already well worth it.
Mobile 5G is fast. Really fast.
In testing the speed of 5G in cities across the country, CNET recently called the speed of 5G awe-inspiring: “We’ve seen an almost two-hour movie download in 8.2 seconds and witnessed speeds almost 20 times faster than what you might see on your 4G phone (a 5G peak of 1.8Gbps so far).”
Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G phone are available across major U.S. carriers. Additionally, the Galaxy Note10+ 5G is now available on Verizon.
5G comes with compelling industrial use cases
Mobile is not the end all, be all when it comes to 5G. By harnessing 5G’s high data capacity and low latency, everything from hospitals to factories will have access to new applications that improve efficiency, safety, security and operational performance in enterprise environments.
In June, Samsung joined AT&T in launching a 5G Innovation Zone at our Samsung Austin Semiconductor facility in Texas, demonstrating 5G’s impact on the Smart Factory and highlighting use cases that involve robotics, industrial IoT and AR training and safety applications.
5G will shape the future of work
Access to data and exponentially more mobile edge computing (MEC) power means that cities with 5G will be more attractive to gig economy workers that rely on connectivity to find new opportunities and perform work tasks. For others, 5G will also allow far-flung teams to collaborate more effectively and empower workers to do more when they aren’t “plugged in,” such as teleworkers, salespeople, field service technicians, consultants and contractors.
The technology’s low latency and speed also opens the door for the development of new technologies, tools and applications that can improve the independence and productivity of disabled individuals, opening them up to new learning and employment opportunities. For example, AR/VR technologies powered by 5G can create safe, controlled learning environments for individuals with social disabilities; in addition, 5G connected vehicles will ease transportation obstacles for those with limited mobility. In fact, a recent study by the Ruderman Family Foundation estimates that autonomous vehicles could open two million employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
5G will re-write the sports entertainment playbook
For the past decade, Samsung has been on the forefront of each new phase of 5G development to introduce groundbreaking experiences to consumers, including our first-ever flagship 5G smartphones, the Galaxy S10 5G and Note10+ 5G.
A rendering of the larger-than-life augmented reality game that will be available to Cowboys fans using the latest Samsung Galaxy phones. (Courtesy AT&T)
To demonstrate the revolutionary power and potential of 5G when it comes to transforming entertainment, Samsung has collaborated with AT&T to create the nation’s first 5G-enabled stadium. Throughout the 2019-2020 season, Dallas Cowboys fans at AT&T Stadium can use Galaxy S10 5G devices to interact with never-before-seen AR experiences, like super-realistic holograms of players and localized AR overlays that display each player’s stats during the game.
Creating an immersive, AR-driven live sport experience is no small feat, and it was only made possible through AT&T’s ultra-fast 5G network, which enables super high-resolution graphics to be streamed to devices in real-time to create the AR experience. And the Galaxy S10 5G is well-equipped to process the massive amounts of data needed to generate super-realistic holograms that add a new layer of immersion to the game, granting fans access to a personalized, live-broadcast-like experience they can enjoy in the palm of their hand.
5G is still in its early stages, and while many unknowns remain, there is no question that it has arrived. As demonstrated by 4G LTE, technology moves fast and use cases aren’t always immediately apparent. That is the beauty of innovation: if you build a strong, flexible wireless platform, innovators will use it to create even greater things. In the case of 5G, the possibilities are endless.