Beyond the 5G hype: Searching for real solutions to the coronavirus mess
The Coronavirus upended our lives in ways we never imagined possible.
The push to lock people in their homes all while keeping the world running connected, exposed vulnerabilities we didn't know existed.
Patients couldn't or wouldn't get in to see their doctors, many afraid of exposing themselves to COVID-19.
Parents many relearning to do their jobs from home also struggled to help their kids focus on remote learning.
That's if they had adequate broadband which staggering 18 million Americans still can't get.
4g is a crowded mainstream next generation wireless technology represents a six lane freeway.
Complete with the carpool lane.
What's happening downloading a TV series, in seconds.
It was supposed to wireless blazing speed capacity.
One hour 43 minute film, and it's downloaded.
Supercharging our phones and smart homes.
With 5G we can put cars together in rigidly coupled virtual road trains.
So as soon as the first one moves, they all move.
And pushing industries like self driving cars and virtual reality into the mainstream.
The promise to keep us connected to that speedy and responsive network while we were on the go.
That didn't happen.
For one, not a lot of us are on the go that much, called 5G phones are widely available.
Complications from the coronavirus meant businesses had to put on hold ambitious plans for the technology, as mainly focused on just surviving.
Those early speeds weren't much to brag about, but network still needing big upgrades to fulfill those even bigger promises made over the last few years.
But that's not what I want to talk about today.
I want to cut through the hype and explore how 5G can get us out of the mess that this global pandemic has gotten us into.
That means looking at how the technology can support and remake areas like telemedicine and remote learning or making our work from home lives easier all while closing the project.
And I want to discuss how we turn these short term solutions designed for society still battling the Coronavirus, the long term, fundamental changes in how we operate, so that these benefits are something we'll be able to appreciate for years to come.
I'm Roger Chang, executive editor and head of CNET news.
And with me are three guests to help push the conversation forward.
They are Tammy Irwin, CEO of rising business Cristiano Amon, President of Qualcomm, who's just named to be the next CEO, and Dr. Steve Ommen, medical director for the Center for connected care at the Mayo Clinic.
So the Coronavirus changed everything.
How did the problems exposed by the pandemic shift the direction the In the thinking about the use of 5G as a solution to some of today's problems,>>it's an it's an excellent question.
It is one of the most significant shifts in technology we have seen.
I will, I will describe to you Roger, that would would take The industry to read, you know, five, if not 10 years to realize the benefit of this technology.
It will it became clear to everyone in about two quarters Ready or Not for remote Education radio for remote medicine ready or not to a fully connected workforce.
I think everyone has to just,find ways
to it 5g does offer a lot of promise.
I mean the fact that there is Less lag, faster speeds, means that even these conversations, where there's just that little bit of a pause, when you and I speak to each other.
As those come down, it makes those conversations feel more like conversations we have in our offices, or in our homes.
So, that will make the experience feel more natural for people.
The ability for more stable video and maybe with complimentary data from a device you might be wearing to augment that video has a bigger promise with a solution that offers in theory,100 X.
Improvements in in upload speed or download speed.
Certainly COVID has changed everything for all All of us as we think about the impact of 2020 and what we're dealing with as we go into 2021.
And what I would tell you Rogers, if anything that is accelerated dramatically accelerated the forward motion of 5g.
As you know, two years ago at CES, we announced eight currencies of 5g uwb.
since that point, we've rapidly gone from PowerPoint to proof of concept to commercial scalability.
And I think it's really been driven as people have seen the incredible requirements for work from home new models for telehealth and education and transportation.
It's really accelerated the potential and the capabilities that people are seeing for the power of 5g Web.>> I want to just get a quick primer in terms of 2021.
What is 5g look like?
Is it just more 5g on more phones?
Or are we actually going to get some of those other broader solutions?>> It is both.
Definitely not discount.
Were like we're very optimistic.
We look at 2020 right now, in the resilience of the phone market is incredible.
We're going to finish the year with initial.
Access of 200 million 5g phones really showing that the transition is already occurring at scale.
we revise our numbers when we look at 21, and we have line of sight to probably in access of 500 million 5g smartphones, and as the 5g smartphones become an even a larger percentage of the new activations.
We will see some of those 5g services Becoming more pervasive, especially as coverage is getting gets built.
What application what programs are taking advantage of that telemedicine perspective that are take advantage of the fact that our phones and maybe even our tablets are running on a much faster now.
I think for a lot of patients they are conducting their video visits either on their smartphone or on their tablet.
So anyone who's doing that is going to take advantage of a faster cellular signal.
And then when you get into the realm of what we call remote patient monitoring, where there are devices in the patient's homes that are monitoring.
Pulse oxygenation, temperature, blood pressure, heart rate all those kinds of things we might be monitoring with patients who are recovering from COVID at home.
Many of those devices are bluetooth, Enabled in the home and then connect back to the hospital system via cellular connection and so that can take advantage of those signals and again the potential of 5g is rather than episodic uploads of data.
5G bandwidth could allow real time monitoring of signals and potentially on the back end AI processing that can send signals to the care team into the into the patient much more rapidly and allow more real time Monitoring of those patients and we're working today with a company called vicia out of Boston.
They're one of the first healthcare providers we're working with today.
They're actually using the power of 5g, low latency to To diagnose polyps in a way that they would not otherwise be able to do because that low latency allows them to see polyps as they're doing diagnostic testing that they wouldn't otherwise see if they didn't have that low latency capability.
There's a very interesting project with 5G in the UK, done by British Telecom, which was the 5G connected ambulance.
When you actually have the ability to get the paramedics and first responders to do image exams.
Into the ambulance incentive image in real time to doctors in the hospital.
They're doing the diagnostic and in basically facilitating the process of triage and diagnostics as you go from that straight to what the necessary treatment is, what are some of the challenges or hurdles to embracing this technology and when you talk to the.
The fact that some of the doctors were less willing to do this pre-COVID, what other obstacles do you see can stand in the way of broader adoption of this kind of technology?
Yeah I think that we've largely hit an inflection point with the provider side just with the concept of providing the remote care.
Obviously the better it is, the better the user experience is, the more that adoption is going to occur, I think the bigger issue, particularly if you look at, Mayo clinic here in Rochester Minnesota, we've literally live in rural Southeast Minnesota.
We have issues with some of our communities don't even have 4G signals yet.
And so one of the things that we have to be careful is as we're designing hardware solutions and software solutions, To deliver this care, they can't depend on the highest level of 5G signal, they should be able to take advantage of it.
But they have to be written in a way to take care of patients who have less robust signal strength so that those patients can still get care.
We don't want to force a broader digital divide, which which would cause an issue particularly with our community based practices at Mayo Clinic.
For millions of Americans who are transitioning to a work from home situation, it was rough.
I know I personally struggled to get all the right equipment and get a comfortable enough space to work while balancing my personal life.
I'm curious to know what 5g applications are, what role does he play in making our work from home lies a little bit more variable.
It depends really on the industry but the application is very vast.
When you look at growth of companies, there have been leaders in the enterprise space, like the Microsoft, where the Azure and office 365 The ability to have a technology that does 5g, you can move all of the hard drives and all of the storage to the cloud.
Think about you're working on a document on on Microsoft OneDrive with multiple people at a time.
And the bandwidth is such that you don't even have any delay.
And you don't you know, it makes no difference to you.
If it's in your computer, not so.
So in the long term when you look at something like manufacturing or the industrial sector, you had in the past you needed to build the competitive advantages you build the largest possible factory you can build and with that you have scale, but now if think about Distributive factories, smaller factories and the entire computers or servers that are in the manufacturing robots.
You connect up to the cloud.
You can centralize that location, the cloud then you have a lot of data for machine learning.
You can change productivity and we are seeing really a revolution in how you think about manufacturing.
Just as an example, Germany that it has a very heavy industrial economy.
Was the first country to have licenses for private industrial 5g network in this year 2020,88 license applications were granted as some of those companies are thinking about really connect all of their.
Mean manufacturing equipment to the cloud in have a flexible, smart factory system.
That's one example.
Another example that we're seeing is the the opportunity within the enterprise.
On this ongoing movement on OIT infrastructure to the cloud, and 5g is going to be a key ingredient of this transformation.
And the list keeps going on and on as we think about other sectors.
And one that I'm excited about is smart cities transformation as we looked at The impact of technology in cities as well.
Cuz UWB, it's not ubiquitous, it's not everywhere.
So if they're in these kind of limited pockets of each market, how do you take advantage?
How does sort of the workforce, especially the remote workforce, take advantage of some of these high speed pockets of network coverage?
Yeah, I think in cities where you have those pockets of coverage and unlisted, I think it's really important to acknowledge that we are running a marathon and not a sprint.
We are building an ecosystem and we're working with partners like Roger Goodell and the NFL on how do you change the stadium experience and I know right now, it's hard for us to imagine being in a stadium but what we're doing right now is working with partners like the NFL to say, let's.
Change the experience because as we go back to stadiums as we go back into these densely populated locations, we're going to want the ability to do touchless transactions, we're going to want to have cashless transactions.
So all the things that allow safety and entertainment and cashless transactions in those environments are things that we're building today to enable a new capability as you think about remote workers.
I think it's the reason why it's impressive.
That your 4G network is now 5G enabled for over 230 million people across the US to really take advantage of the capabilities of dynamic spectrum sharing and the ability to really do 5G nr so what I love about our strategy is it's not one or equal.
Or the other.
So moving on, I want to talk a little bit about remote learning.
I've got a one year old and a four year old and like a lot of other parents I struggled to get my kids to at least my four year old to focus on an iPad on a zoom call with their teachers.
I'm curious how and the work you guys have done how you serve receive 5g playing a role.
In making remote learning more of a more of a practical and an interesting and engaging experience for students and really even adults and kids as well.
It's a fascinating topic of discussion because also, besides, technology solving a real problem we're facing now, globally.
It creates the potential also to bring significant improvements in education.
Today in many aspects even within our own cities within our states within our country, you can argue that, you know, quality of education could vary based on location.
And the ability to remotely Connect, you know, quality education and students on on a regional level and on a global level.
It's an incredible you know, opportunity to increase the reach of quality education and improve and have an ongoing improvement of quality of something that is so important and vital.
What we see with the power of 5g is it won't simply be a teacher who won a iPad or on a remote screen, but we really see the power of the content changing.
And that's where I think you then gain interest of kids like yours, to be able to do AR capability.
You know, one of the things that we've announced this week that we're very excited about is our partnership with this.
So you think about all the all the things that kids can see in an augmented reality environment, if you can deliver the Smithsonian, where they're part of and surrounded by the content and all the things that they can see at the Smithsonian.
How cool is that now it's immersive and it's real.
They are really excited about the learning as opposed to watching their teacher in front of a whiteboard
How much of these solutions are short term and how much of this is stuff that's built, intended to benefit us over the long term?
New technologies just 5g when we design those new standards they have to last a decade in it when we started with 4G, and it was the very first 4G launch.
You know, people with their blackberries were asking why do I need a hundred megabits per second data?
Then the smartphone game.
And with that came new companies, new business model of many other things.
And 5g is to say, and if 5g exactly continued to evolve, we're seeing.
We started with 1 release of 5G.
We're working on that already on the on to after that, which is release 16 release 17 as we bring more applications, but I believe many of those solutions are here to stay And we're just at the beginning of this transition.
I really do believe that we've cut three, four or five years off of the planning cycle of going from planning for digital transformation to actually deploying digital transformation.
And what we're seeing with our customers is they're beginning to see the possibilities of 5g.
Whether it's in our lab environments or whether it's in cities where we've actually got it deployed.
It's just pretty, more and more curiosity and commitment to acceleration of transformation.
It's a mixture for sure.
And I think there are some quick fix things that are happening on the other hand, I do think that it is forcing us to examine Some of the standard care models.
So traditionally, if a patient had condition x, they might see the provider and there was often a well, let's see you in three to four months.
In many cases, that was a historic surveillance interval, that was based upon when the provider could get reimbursed for seeing the patient again So, if you could take out those reimbursement intervals and just talk about what do I actually need to know about person with condition x to know that they're doing okay and whether anymore testing or examination is necessary.
If you break it down that way you start to reexamine what's necessary to take care of patients and you can actually change that care delivery model and make it much more convenient for the patients And much more enjoyable experience for them because they recognize that they don't have to stop their lives to see the doctor.
The doctor can see them wherever they are.
And I wanna talk about bridging the digital divide the fact that there's still at least 18 million Americans who can't get adequate broadband.
How does 5G help close that gap?
Or is this another instance where.
You know the have nots but you're the last in line when it comes to getting access to the new technologies.
That's another, you know, topic related with identification of gaps that became very, very visible with the pandemic.
There is no question today in anyone's mind the difference between having broadband and not having broadband But the good news is for the first time in wireless, we actually have a technology with 5g that has the ability to augment fiber.
You know, 5g is the elevator pitch of 5g is wireless fiber.
And we're seeing significant traction with operators around the world using this technology to help connect the unconnected Using wireless to reach them with broadband as just to give an order of magnitude when we look out within the next 10 years, we expect in fixed or wireline broadband, that to have a 5g component and more than 25% you know of the of the new deployments and we're very excited about that.
And as an example, we demonstrated with companies like Verizon wireless and Ericsson, the ability to have a technology, which is 5g millimeter wave, over five kilometers of range, which is an incredible opportunity for you to start connecting.
We've actually made a commitment that next year that we'll have a hundred, five G.
Schools, which I'm super excited about because that really transforms and in the remote environment, we're doing this dispatching those devices home.
So kids have access to them.
But then we've also pulled into [UNKNOWN] capability.
So it's not just connectivity, but it's the collaboration tools.
So, a lot of things that we feel like we have a responsibility to be very actively engaged in closing that digital divide and using technology to solve what is such a critical issue for our society And in terms of access or beyond access.
I know, a lot of folks who can't get broadband right now, it's not a matter of getting the network out there.
It's a matter of price.
And so I'm just curious where you think pricing-wise, how 5G can, I guess, change the dynamic in terms of getting more people.
On a 5g network
we're on the beginning of this ramp.
You know device ecosystem is already moving and moving ahead of the networks.
I think the best 4g phone you can buy today is a 5g phone, but the networks are coming.
And the key element of 5G economics that we and we took that challenge very serious when we were working to create the 5G standard, which is we're gonna society that is Expect unlimited data rates and virtually unlimited bandwidth with gigabit speeds.
When you look at the cost per bit of 5g technology compared to all the other technologies, it's a much more economical way to deliver that connected.
Activity because it's been designed from the ground up for an unlimited, you know, data, you know, solar network.
So, autonomous driving is another topic I want to hit.
You know, it's been around for Companies have been testing it for a while.
I think they'll the lockdown.
But the social distancing status quo has made the idea of self driving car far more attractive.
Here's how 5g is helping to make autonomous driving more of a reality.
Yeah, so this is one that I can visualize as I think about the difference between a 4g environment and a 5g environment.
I do think the [UNKNOWN] been talking about this for a long time, when will it come to fruition?
When will it be real?
We're seeing this being tested today in pockets throughout the country.
And it's not just for driverless vehicles or autonomous vehicles, but it's also for drones.
You saw us announce this week the work that we're doing with UPS on drone capability.
When you think about 4G versus 5G, if you're in an autonomous vehicle today in a 4G ecosystem, and you want to clear the car in front of you, your clearance is about 4 inches based on latency capability in a 5G ecosystem because you've got latency that can be sub 10 milliseconds, all of a sudden you find yourself in an environment where you've got a four foot clearance.
To the car in front of you because the low latency capability allows that we're having conversations with cities of round the country to really understand their planning cycle.
We talked about San Jose this week at CES.
In the work we're doing with them to really build the Smart City capability and to build a smart city capability to 5G capability of low latency and the bandwidth capability and the ability for the signals to travel at speed allows a very differentiated and a very real experience for smart cities.
For autonomous vehicles and for drones that I think are going to be very real as you think about how to partners like ups deliver against the demand that they have for home delivery.
drones will play an important part of that.
And we're already seeing that in prototype today and in testing, so I think it's going to come faster than we imagined because we're finding new and different ways to really use the power.
A 5G web assuming 5G works exactly as promised, all the snappy speeds the low latency everything.
What is your dream application for this for this technology, specifically as a solution to one of the many problems exposed by Coronavirus?
What is my dream application?
Well, how much time do we have to talk about dream applications?
I believe a 5g is working exactly as we've defined it.
I'm super proud of the ability for us to deliver on the timelines of the commitments that we've made around deploying cities and making the capability really come to life.
I'm incredibly appreciative for the partnerships that we've developed with AWS and with a juror and with Apple.
Samsung and others to really make the app the ecosystem come to life because it's really when you unlock the power of ecosystem that you can begin to imagine solutions.
I believe the things that we've talked about today, healthcare, education, digital divide, are the big ones.
Yeah, I think there's a couple of really big things that we've mentioned.
So again, the possibility of doing Having patients that are near hospital level requirements at home where they can have real time monitoring and the ability for a nurse or other provider to see them by video or talk to them, you know, at a moment's notice on demand is a great promise for what this can deliver.
The other thing that Mayo Clinic is looking at is the ability for us to serve as kind of a platform to process not only our own patients data, but other hospital systems data, with advanced machine learning capabilities AI solutions, to identify patients who are at highest risk and therefore would.
Would need intervention and having signals that allowed patients data to get from their, their sensor, to the cloud, to our data platform to apply these analytics to it, is another one of the dream possibilities to really help more people more of the time.
I am a big believer that 5g will enable a transition to what we expect to be the next computing platform.
And I know that's a big it's a big prediction right but we went from PCs to smartphones is our inseparable device and it will continue to be the case.
But 5g will enable the next computing platform.
And they could look like eyeglasses like the one I'm using right now, where you could do a lot of the computation on the cloud.
And in whatever you see in here, you can share in real time, or you can, you can process images with computer vision.
Go to the cloud instantly using 5g and get information about that in super impulse, that information for you with I've met the reality.
So 5g will enable a transition of computing platforms, and I think augmented reality glasses connected with 5g will be my preferred application into the future.
I wanna thank everyone who took part in today's panel, Tammy Irwin of horizon business, Christiana Oman of Qualcomm and Dr. Steve almond of the Mayo Clinic.
Stick around for more CES coverage at CNET.
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