Today, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond announced £1bn ($1.5bn) of funding to boost 5G and fiber connections in the country. Included in the Autumn Statement from Britain’s Treasury, the Chancellor said he wanted the ‘UK to be a world leader in 5G’. The UK will also be allocating £400m ($500m) for a Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund to accelerate the roll out of superfast internet.

The UK government is right to invest in 5G, even though the standards have yet to be agreed. Truth is, 5G can’t come soon enough for mobile operators. They will need to provide connectivity for over 20 billion IoT devices1 – so everything from smart homes to self-driving cars – for the Internet of Things (IoT). It is estimated that IoT revenues will grow to $3 trillion by 2025 and $1.3 trillion will come from end-users2. No wonder operators want a piece of that pie, yet IoT poses some unique challenges and mobile operators aren’t ready for a 5G future.

IoT devices have different and in many cases paradoxical needs. Connected cars require ultra-low latency to transmit information at lightning-fast speeds so other cars can avoid a hazard. Conversely video-intensive applications that run 4K videos will have demanding bandwidth requirements. And operators will also need to provide connectivity for the latest smartphones too. It is a delicate balancing act.

A concept called Network Slicing in 5G holds the key to this connectivity conundrum. Multiple cloud-based network functions can be automated and programmed to meet different use cases across multiple technologies, bands and protocols. Yet mobile operators don’t currently have the infrastructure to take advantage of this. Hopefully, government initiatives such as the UK’s Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund and the Advanced Wireless Research initiative in the US will inspire mobile operators – across the world – to prepare their networks better for 5G and beyond. That will put them in pole position to monetize a future always-connected smart 5G world.

Viavi Solutions is working with network operators, equipment manufacturers and their ecosystems as part of major industry bodies to develop well-defined and harmonized standards for 5G. The company is also part of The White House Advanced Wireless Research Initiative in the US which fosters R&D and collaborates with the likes of AT&T, T-Mobile, Nokia and Samsung on 5G connectivity and beyond.

For more information please visit: http://www.viavisolutions.com/5g

1 Gartner, November 10 2015

2 Machina Research, August 3 2016

Dr. Sameh Yamany is Chief Technology Officer of Viavi Solutions.

Dr. Sameh Yamany, CTO, Viavi Solutions
Dr. Sameh Yamany, CTO, Viavi Solutions

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