CES panel talks about the role of 5G in A.I., automated cars and more

Las Vegas, Nev. — A panelist of tech leaders gathered on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Wednesday for a discussion moderated by Editor-in-Chief of SDxCentral Sue Marek about what 5G exactly is and how it will shape the future. Among the tech leaders to occupy the CES spotlight included COO of Baidu Qi Lu, CTO of Verizon Hans Vestberg and President of Qualcomm Cristiano Amon, discussing how 5G will impact everything from self-driving cars to artificial intelligence (A.I.).

5G refers to fifth-generation wireless broadband technology. The purpose of 5G is to help manage the surge of devices that need a mobile internet connection. The technology will allow users to forward messages, make phone calls, download videos and browse the internet, while boosting the speed at which information travels across the network. As global standards are solidified, service providers hope to make 5G commercially available in the next three to four years.

Commenting on the race to 5G, Vestberg said Verizon plans to be the first with 5G in the states. The company intends to deploy 5G wireless residential broadband services in three to five U.S. markets this year, serving as the pre-standard for 5G. “Remember now, from the 5G, you can do different slices. We are now focusing on one slice, which is basically a residential broadband with millimeter wave spectrum,” Vestberg said.

Qualcomm’s Amon said he thought the industry will ease into millimeter wave technology and frequencies in the sub-6 GHz spectrum as well. “5G is not about a millimeter wave choice or a (low-frequency) choice,” he said. “It’s about all of it. It’s a Gigabit LTE foundation, overlaid with a more dense millimeter wave, units of Gigabit, tens of Gigabit, all these systems working as one.” Amon indicated “flagship smartphones” may be available early next year, which could also help consumers ease into 5G technology.

Lu noted during the panel discussion that he expects 5G video to have a major impact by “replacing a lot of written language communications.” He also anticipates that 5G will have a major role in improving A.I., self-driving vehicles as well as the public-private infrastructure designs of cities in the foreseeable future. Li added Baidu is collaborating with the Chinese government to create infrastructure and policies that aid the enablement of 5G deployments.

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