By Eric Walter
Dec 26, 2017
The world becomes more interconnected every day, and the next advancement in wireless broadband is on the verge of accelerating that trend. New 5G wireless delivers high-speed, low-latency features to support the sensors that power many smart city technologies.
Verizon’s plan to test the technology in 11 American municipalities could have a significant impact on how cities do business, says Samir Saini, CIO for Atlanta. “I don’t think people realize what a leap 5G is from 4G,” he says. “5G is effectively the speed you get from a direct fiber connection.”
While Verizon hasn’t yet turned on the 5G tap locally, Saini sees the new technology as a gateway to a range of benefits. Among other advantages, 5G’s high speeds and low latency could enable large numbers of public safety cameras streaming in high definition, he says.
The Verizon 5G Technology Forum formed in late 2015 in cooperation with Cisco Systems, Ericsson, Intel, LG, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung. The company believes the 5G project is the widest test to date of the emerging technology, with trials in Atlanta; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Bernardsville, N.J.; Brockton, Mass.; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Miami; Sacramento, Calif.; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.
While 5G is not expected to replace 4G, it does offer the opportunity for a range of uses, including smart city applications that employ the Internet of Things, says Chris McCann, spokesperson for Verizon. Service has already started in eight of the municipalities, he adds. Details on which cities are now live and when a more widespread commercial deployment may occur likely will be released in late 2018.
In addition to boosting public safety, 5G could provide the infrastructure for the rollout of driverless vehicles on a wide scale, Saini says. The technology will allow cars to communicate with each other and with traffic control systems. “I think it’s a major stepping-stone to making vehicles fully autonomous,” he says.
Other providers are making moves to implement their own 5G initiatives. T-Mobile US will roll out its 5G network across the country by 2020, Reuters has reported. AT&T announced plans to deploy advanced LTE features that will provide faster speeds in selected markets, and predicts that it will deliver standards-based 5G mobile networks as soon as late 2018, the company said in a press release.
“I know Verizon has applied for quite a few permits, but so have a lot of others,” says William Finch, CIO for the city of Dallas. Atlanta finds itself in a similar situation. “We’re talking with everyone,” Saini says, “and everyone is talking with us.”