Robots & Humans; Uberification & 5G

Talking Mirrors , Singing Toothbrushes, Holographic Performances…

 … Pepper the robot launched by Softbank, Japan. Pepper is capable of  reading emotions.  A  1000 units sold out in 60 seconds ! 


5G in the world of telecommunications isn’t too far away. We were in South Korea recently and it’s amazing to see how they are already talking about the next G connectivity fabric – Connecting Everything and Anything – and how they will bring it to life at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.  

5G is on the national agenda with strong drive from the South Korean government. KT Corporation is the official telecommunications partner for the 2018 Winter Olympics and together with SKT, LG U+ and their global technology partners (Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, ZTE, Intel, Qualcomm and others) are all committed to showcase the possibilities of 5G to the world during this major event.


What does 5G offer for the common man – not a whole lot more for voice.  A lot more for data – 4K Ultra-HD (UHD) Video streamed on demand to your mobile phones which is not possible now. Holographic displays right out of your watch , car dashboard etc.,- Not possible now, Tactile internet – not possible now.   New possibilities for 7 billion human beings.


But then for the 20 billion or more unconnected devices (machines) that makes it the most disruptive technology thus far, and opens the playing field.  


Mission Critical Machine Type Communications (uMTC) – Imagine walking into a surgery kiosk for a keyhole surgery. You self-check in and a robotic arm starts operating on you surrounded by monitors and virtual reality. The doctor sits miles away in another city and controls the robot.  This starts to become a reality with 1 msec latency. Eg: I learnt that if unknowingly you touch something very hot, in a split-second you take your hand away. That split-second takes around 100 milliseconds. Contrast this with one millisecond; one thousandth of a second with 5G latency.  5G works 100 times faster than your brain can figure out that you’re in pain. Wow ! Mind-boggling ?


Massive Connectivity Machine Type Communications (mMTC) – Smart utilities meters reporting utilization and faults when they occur to the utilities service providers, sensors-equipped bicycles reporting biometric data and location for self-health monitoring purposes – loads of devices connected to each other in a massive grid – one without any borders. Imagine with every sector-carrier (aka cell) in the mobile network needing to serve more than 50 thousand smart devices. Contrast this with 1400 users. (will vary based on design considerations) . 30 fold increase ! Incredible.


Smart cities – A big initiative in Singapore – first to successfully deliver mail via a postobot drone..


Autonomous vehicles with self-driving capabilities on the roads with Cars talking to Cars, Pedestrians, Infrastructure (V2X) create a super intelligent, safe and efficient transportation system (ITS) which we can expect drastic reduction in fatality rates due to traffic accidents, less time spend on the road due to traffic jams – a whole new driving experience all together.


Friends sharing information with each other, through their Devices talking to each other (D2D) when within the proximity range without needing to always go through the network enabling best possible user experiences even when the networks could be congested at times. Same concept would be application for mission critical applications when public safety officers will need to communicate to each other within a trusted group of devices in events of emergencies and when network connectivity cannot be guaranteed.


It’s gonna be a whole lot of fun !  Disruptive, Dynamic, Unpredictable !  That’s the promise of 5G.


Now the sharing part and why that’s the new world economy.  Uber to Spotify to AirBnB ..the new mantra is “Sharing”. 5G enables all this further…


Up until now CORE networks (which handles all your data traffic) is where the data is hauled thru , transported and aggregated and then dispatched. Akin to a central warehouse. You send a message /video, movie via your mobile goes all the way back to the network core and gets routed to the recipient – waste of resources ?  Whats changing ? – Device transmits to the device if you are close by . Happens today to an extent via Airdrop (iPhone – iPhone). Imagine this network wide any device to any device !  The data access and drops (user plane) is moving to the edge – base station.  This is critical in urban areas as Ultra Dense Networks (UDN) form with groupings of micro, pico , femto cells directly handling data while call control is managed by the macro cell.


Another important feature is Network Slicing.  At a time of day the user(s) location information combined with type of data used will be sent to an orchestrator which in turn summarises the volume across multiple users and then assigns the relevant processing requirements to allocate bandwidth – dynamically . Shared resources based on the moment. Multiple virtual network slices are managed and orchestrated (MANO) in the network, each optimized for a range of services that includes Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented/Virtual Reality (AVR), Enterprise, Public Safety and many other possibilities of the future.


Then there’s the whole range of frequency and spectrum upheavel ! Virtualisation of the core , cloud computing… a major disruption of technology , that now enables 20B+ unconnected world and transforms the lives of 7B Humans
Star Wars – The Force Awakens , has drawn peak interests. 5G is a step towards enabling reality.  The world of sharing is going to get more pronounced as the world flattens – from Airlines to the Internet to the Cloud.

Koo + Rajesh



  1. Koo Eng Wei – Co- author of this blog post. A guru in the technology arena, part of the distinguished CTO office at Viavi Solutions.  He has won several notable awards, such as Agilent’s Innovation award and Siemens Preferred Partner award. He has co-authored several publications . One such being the “LTE and the Evolution to 4G Wireless Design and Measurement Challenges
  2. Article : Towards 5G . Featured Image
  3. Blog: Defining the Sharing Economy: What is Collaborative Consumption – And What Isn’t – Rachel Botsman

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