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Not just cat videos – 5G capacity and speed enable new kinds of services

6 min
According to Telia’s Janne Koistinen, 3.5 gigahertz is definitely something to be happy about.

Telia will open a commercial 5G network in 2019. What will happen then? What happens then depends on the needs of our partners and on data-based new innovations.

Why should we be excited about 3.5 gigahertz?

“The 3.5. gigahertz frequency we won in FICORA’s auction is a concrete step towards realizing our 5G visions,” says Janne Koistinen, Director of Telia’s 5G program.

We have currently several ongoing 5G experiments. “We are, for example, testing a 5G network in Oulu, where the maintenance staff of Stora Enso’s paper mill have been able to use video and AR applications in their work. The new solutions have reduced unnecessary work and improved safety at work,” Koistinen explains.

According to Lauri Oksanen, Vice President of Research and Development at Nokia, the frequency won by Telia is optimal for the 5G network. He says that, although new uses are constantly sought for the 5G network around the world, frequencies for its implementation have not been auctioned in many countries in addition to Finland.” Finland is at the cutting edge of 5G development,” he sums up.

Koistinen underlines that, in addition to unprecedented opportunities, a 5G licence will also bring responsibility to the operator: “It’s not just about telecommunications technology, but we will build much broader solutions around 5G in cooperation with our customers. This obliges us to operate responsibly and cooperate with the authorities.”

On the brink of a revolution

The 5G network is not an improved version of 4G. It is a new kind of technology that enables mobile communications in completely new areas,” Koistinen says. He explains the features of the network: “What is new in 5G is its ability to bring computing capacity from data centres to the network, closer to the actual site where it is used. The network and computing capacity form a more uniform platform for the next steps of digitalization.”

According to Nokia’s Lauri Oksanen, conventional telecommunications technologies will not be enough in the future.
According to Nokia’s Lauri Oksanen, conventional telecommunications technologies will not be enough in the future.

By way of example, Oksanen describes how a network similar to 5G has been tested at the port of Hamburg: “The capacity of the network is so high that it is possible to connect tens of thousands of measuring devices to it. The lack of latency, in turn, makes it possible to arrange light control over the network. The port is thus provided with revolutionary functionalities, which cannot be produced with older telecommunications technology.”

Koistinen emphasizes the versatility of the 5G network: “The 5G infrastructure can be sliced so that several web services can use it at the same time, even if they have different needs. Network slices suitable for different uses can be delivered virtually even quite quickly.”

Oksanen agrees and adds: “5G has much higher capacity to process data than older network technologies, and it is suitable for different uses from latency-free playback of cat videos to automatic control of emergency vehicles.” According to him, there is no industry that will not be affected by 5G: “The fourth industrial revolution, driven by the 5G network, will have an impact on all industrial operations.”

Practical applications on motorways and in music halls

One of the most talked-about 5G applications is self-driving cars. “In the long run, the lack of latency in 5G will become essential for autonomous transport. This allows cars to run much closer to each other in the future, which saves fuel. Safety will also be enhanced when it becomes possible to provide information to the car from a blind spot or behind a bend,” says Oksanen.

Koistinen adds: “Remote-controlled vehicles will become common quite quickly, and it is self-evident that there must be no delay in their control. 5G can also be used to collect data from cars and use it for providing information, for instance, on problem situations and for route optimization and road-condition mapping. We tested this in the autumn in Karaportti, Espoo, where data was sent from a self-driving car of the company Sensible 4 to the control centre for further processing.” (The article continues below.)

Other applications frequently mentioned in connection with 5G are virtual reality and telepresence, whose development is already far advanced: “The tests have, for example, included following an orchestra some of whose members participate in the rehearsals virtually. At the moment, you can still see in the virtual view which ones of the musicians are not actually there, but the technology will soon be so advanced that it will be impossible to see a difference with the naked eye.” Oksanen adds that the lack of latency in 5G increases the network capacity so that virtual reality can be transmitted to a larger number of people at the same time.

New business from data through partnerships

“The economy of the future will be based on data. The most important competence will be the ability to innovate new uses for data, and partnerships will become more important,” Koistinen predicts. Oksanen is along the same lines: “Companies need to find new ways of cooperating and find out how data is transmitted between operators. This generates new value chains.”

Koistinen emphasizes that the 5G network is built specifically on the terms of partners: “The network is built at first for industry, i.e. where it is really used. We are constantly looking for new uses.”

The article is based on the webinar '5G is here'.

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