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5G Applications

The Acentury Channel Episode #2: 5G Applications

In today’s discussion we discuss the various 5G applications, both for the enterprise and consumer user.

Host: David Shin, Marketing
Guest: Leo Lin, VP Solutions Development, Acentury Inc.

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About the Acentury Channel:

The Acentury Channel hosts open discussions with in-house industry experts about the wireless and wireline networking industry. We plan to cover a wide array of topics and provide our insight in latest trends, news, and product innovations.


[David] Greetings and welcome to the second episode of the Acentury Channel. I’m David Shin, your host and today we have a familiar guest, Leo Lin, VP of Solutions Development at Acentury Inc. Today, we talk about 5G applications. I start by posing Leo with a question. Is what we’re seeing now with 5G applications just on the cusp of being adopted, very similar to what we saw in the mid 2000s when 3G tech, and broad speed, high speed internet was very much a thing but not quite broadly adopted. I catch up with him here.

[Leo] I would say it will be similar. History is always repeating. If you remember that time, people were debating even with 3G, why do we need that kind of bandwidth. We only have voice, and use very little data. Why do people need bandwidth on their mobile phone? At that time, we seriously didn't need it. But, after iPhone released the first unit, I think late 2000? Around 2007. Then people started realizing the bandwidth is not enough. We needed to have more for the consumer. And video would become the major application on devices. At that time, they started complaining that we don't have enough bandwidth, we needed more. 5G - I would say it would be the same. Right now, if we ask around, it's why [B2B businesses] need 5G - the consumer doesn't need 5G. It's mostly for the enterprise customer. But you never know, right? Once you have a 5G platform or network ready, then we may see the same kind of thing happen. Just like another Apple or another device company, they develop a new product or a new application, then start eating up the bandwidth. Even 5G is not enough at that time. Then we start looking for more bandwidth or less latency. We don't know, but the one thing we should know is that we should have the 5G network ready as soon as possible, and then the market will respond. That's my view. 

[David] For sure, for sure. I don't think are not known applications in the industry. Could you just elaborate just for those that don't know, some of the unique 5G applications that you have seen that are particularly interesting. I think you mentioned one that was for potentially handling ambulances and first responders. Can you just comment on that a little bit?

[Leo] I saw this kind of application in the Asian market, actually. The idea is to build 5G enabled ambulances. Enabling the 5G network on the ambulance so that they can move some medical equipment on the ambulance, and then for example when they pick up the patient or pick up some injured persons from an accident, the doctor can do a measurement right away, they don't have to wait until the patient arrives at the hospital. That means they can certainly react to this kind of thing as soon as possible. So, once they arrive at the hospital, they can do the operation, whatever operation, right away. They don't have to wait. By that time, they can reduce the death rate. That's very useful. For sure, this is for the enterprise, this kind of application, it won't be for the consumer. It's the government pushing this, the 5G ambulance. Probably the first case I saw in Asia.

[David] Interesting. I think your emphasis on the enterprise application is probably... it'd be very difficult to see a consumer use case at this point in time. I mean, outside of maybe gaming. 

[Leo] Gaming or maybe for example the retail market. The tourism market. For example, before you book your travel, you would want to experience the nation you’d prefer. Cuba, or Mexico, or something. "I don't know where to go" or which one is better, but this way, the tourism company can send you VR glasses, then they have people at these destinations that can do live demos for you. They can bring you to some beach, hotel, or restaurant, some place at the destination. You can experience something first, and it would help you make a decision. Oh, maybe I like Mexico better, or I like Cuba better. But even this, I will still consider this an enterprise application because from the 5G point of view you're targeting the tourism company or the retail company. Consumers only use VR glasses to experience something.

[David] I think that I agree with you. It's still considered a B2B case. I would also say that in order for that experience to happen, if it's going to happen in your home, then outside of the glasses you're going to need a 5G device, say the iPhone, and then you're definitely going to have to have a modem and potentially a router that's also 5G enabled depending on where you are in the home. So, there's a lot of preliminary devices that you need in order for that to work. Or, maybe that happens at the mall for example, so if you're at the mall or some kind of 5G enabled building then that would be a little bit more plausible, because you don't need to have all those devices ahead of time. Is that correct?

[Leo] Yup.

[David] So, I think you're right. I think the consumer use case is difficult to see right at this moment given that it's not just the use cases but it's also the investment requirement for the devices and the equipment ahead of time. But that's not to say that there could be other means to do that. I know that you and I had an interesting conversation about bands and music, or orchestras. This one probably isn't going to happen, but it was just interesting to sort of talk about it because one of the biggest issues for a musician is that in order to do a rehearsal of any sort, you need to do it live. You have to do it in person, there's too much latency today. Is it possible if you had a 5G enabled home and others, could it be possible to experience a rehearsal with no latency and I think your answer was it's possible but there's a bunch of things that need to happen? First of all, you need to receive the signal, it has to be consolidated somewhere, then it needs to send back to people doing the rehearsal, not to mention each of their homes have to be 5G enabled as well. So, there's a lot of challenges for that to work and I mean it's an interesting use case, and I guess the final part of that is that they need to be somewhat local. I mean, you can't rehearse with somebody and someone in Canada and then someone in Asia. 

[Leo] Yea, for this kind of thing right, because there would be a lot of interactive activities, physically you have to be close, otherwise the latency is hard to handle. Maybe within a city or something you could do that. But for sure, it's a very interesting application. And then in market, I don't know if the market will be big enough or not to support this thing.

[David] I agree with you Leo, it'd probably be easier to get together, right? [laugh]

[Leo] Yea, like I said right, we are the telecom guy, right. For this kind of application, we have to rely on those musicians. They really understand that kind of industry. They know it in detail. What we can do is provide them the platform on the telecom side and on top of that they can give us a summary requirement like latency, what's the minimum latency they need, and how much bandwidth they need, etc. We need to work together to overcome this kind of challenge, right? The good thing is that we are building our own 5G standalone end-to-end network in our office, in our lab, actually. And that will be the platform. I believe for all the enterprise customers for each vertical market, they should have this kind of thing to play around with. So what we can do is from the telecom providers, we provide this kind of platform but we kind of lack the knowledge for vertical market, so we have to involve those experts in that kind of market. Then they understand the KPI, they understand a lot of their own industry. So, we can definitely work together to build their own 5G lab so that they can develop their own 5G application for their own industry. I think that will be the benefit that Acentury can provide, right?

[David] For sure. Recalling Apple's live cast again and you know, they built their own lab which was obviously to their best benefit.

[Leo] Yea, that kind of lab is very expensive. [laugh] I don't think that even particularly for those SMB customers, I don't think they can afford that kind of thing. It's too expensive, right? What we're building is for those SMB customers, they can afford it, and it's simple enough that they can use it, they can maintain it by themselves. On top of that, they can build their own application, 5G application, they can verify, play around, and then when the system's ready and also when the carrier has their 5G network ready, they can easily migrate to the production 5G network. Then they can push to the market, right?

[David] Very interesting and very exciting, Leo. I think that it would definitely be worth our time, once you guys are available, once you guys have the lab, it'd be interesting to tour it, have a look, investigate what are some of the things you're doing, some of the things you're planning so we can certainly reserve that for a follow-on conversation. 

[Leo] Yup, for sure for sure. We'll let you know when our platform is up and running. We probably need some time to tune the system to have the best performance. But again, best performance is kind of tricky. Sometimes with these vertical markets, the best definition for the performance is different from other vertical markets. So we need to have a couple of predefined parameters for different vertical markets.

[David] That makes sense. I think that just working together in partnership and in concert I think is probably the best way to do these things so very excited to hear more about it. So, thanks again Leo for today's conversation. Appreciate your time.

[Leo] Thanks for having me. 

[David] No worries.

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