March 10, 2016 — One of the nice things about conferences is that they show us what is on the burners. Whether the technologies are in trials, or are mature and evolving or emerging, such venues tell us what is moving around the radar screen.
In that vein, this year’s Mobile World Congress certainly had 5G on that radar screen. That is good news because it shows serious interest in making that technology happen, and not just in the theoretical, or staging arenas. We are beginning to see measurable movement on the 5G front.
It is now reaching beyond the standard, what, when, and how. There is a new vector in 5G that is looking at it from the consumer side. The CTO of Deutsche Telekom, Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, presented the position that the cellcos should begin to understand that the consumer context will radically change in the next few years. With access to an order of magnitude more of connected devices (i.e. smartphones, wearables, home appliances, cars, smart cities, etc.), these consumers will be what he called “digital natives” who have completely different expectations from the previous generation of telecoms customers.
Digital natives are, generally, millennials that really don’t care about the underlying infrastructure of wireless. They simply expect it to be there, wherever and whenever. So 5G will have to present a transparent platform of speed, content, reliability and availability. That is a paradigm change from 3G and 4G, where the selling points were unlimited amounts of text, data and voice. It will be about managing the digital life and – connectivity, devices, services and apps.
So 5G will have to be about services and not “5,” or “G.” Well, at least someone is thinking more about the user and how to monetize it from the service side, than the technology side.