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Explain IT: Season 2, Episode 5 - 5G

Playing now - 5G

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32:22

5G. What is it, how does it work and what's in it for organisations? 

In this episode we talk to our experts about 5G. Our host Michael Bird is joined by Craig Lodzinski, Softcat’s Chief Technologist for emerging technologies and Adam Louca, Softcat’s Chief Technologist for security. Together they explore what the next generation of cellular mobile communication might look like, when we can expect it to emerge, and how, in practical terms, it will benefit us from a personal, as well as business, perspective.

From L to R: Craig Lodzinski, Adam Louca, Michael Bird
Host:
Michael Bird
Michael Bird Digital Marketing Manager Softcat
Guests:
Adam Louca
Adam Louca Chief Security Technologist Softcat
Craig Lodzinski
Craig Lodzinski Chief Technologist for Emerging Technologies Softcat
Key takeaways
  • 5G is the next generation wireless communication standard, bringing faster speeds, ultra low latency and the 5G new radio standard.
  • 5G will be 20 times faster than 4G, using millimetre wave - a much higher frequency.
  • 5G technology will be used most for IoT devices, with specialist operators using it to collect data. Use cases will range from vehicle to vehicle communication, safety systems and ‘Smart’ infrastructure such as smart cities and smart motorways.
  • We predict that 5G will start to emerge over the next year, with the first devices potentially appearing this year. In 2020 we predict that the first consumer networks may come online.
  • 5G will allow your workforce to truly be mobile, with fast speeds wherever there is coverage, enabling true wireless working.
Solutions

Craig Lodzinski: The use of 5G is going to enable moving a lot more of that data and that video and the commentary; all the things that you see huge rafts of cables being slung out across sporting arenas, there are going to be trials at the Olympics to move that over 5G rather than having to run copper.

Adam Louca: The challenge with all of this stuff is just coverage. If you haven’t got coverage, if the cell towers aren’t there, then you’re not ultimately going to get the performance, so we are still beholden on the ISPs to put the investment out there.

Michael Bird: Hello and welcome to Explain IT, brought to you by Softcat, the show for IT professionals, by IT professionals that aims to simplify the complex and often over complicated bits of Enterprise IT, without compromising on detail. I’m host Michael Bird, and over the next 30 or so minutes, I’ll be challenging our panel of experts to take a different area of the IT ecosystem and, of course, explain it. In this episode we’re going to be talking about 5G – what it is, how it works, and what’s in it for organisations. So with me to help is Craig Lodzinski, who is Softcat’s Chief Technologist for emerging technologies, Craig, this is your third time on the second series of Explain IT, so you have done two interesting facts so far, so I want a third interesting fact from you.

Craig Lodzinski: I really hope this isn’t repeating the same interesting facts I’ve done before, that would be awkward. I’ll go for – I fed turtles at a turtle sanctuary in Sri Lanka this year.

Michael Bird: That is an interesting fact. And we also have Adam Louca who is Softcat’s Chief Technologist for security. Adam, this is your first time on the show for season two, and in season two, we ask each of our guests to provide an interesting fact, so what is your interesting fact?

Adam Louca: My interesting fact is, on my stag do, about three years ago, I got trapped in ‘No Man’s Land’ so, just before immigration, because I’d left my passport on the plane, in the back of the seat. I was dressed as a sailor and I spent six hours in immigration waiting for them to reopen the plane.

Michael Bird: UK immigration?

Adam Louca: No, in a foreign country immigration.

Michael Bird: Oh no!

Adam Louca: Yeah. I nearly missed my own stag do.

Michael Bird: Did everyone else just leave you behind?

Adam Louca: Unfortunately, as it is in immigration, you arrive on the edge of the border, and you turn up and there’s a bunch of us there, so everyone just went through, expecting there to be no problems, so I ended up stranded with me and two of my friends, who, very luckily were behind me in the queue, everyone else had proceeded on and had to get on with day’s first activities, so, note to anyone else, if you’re going to take someone on their stag do, take their passport, otherwise they may not make it.

Michael Bird: Did the sailor’s outfit not have pockets?

Adam Louca: The sailor’s outfit was… lacking in pockets.

Michael Bird: So, first thing’s first. 5G? What is it?

Craig Lodzinski: So 5G is the next generation wireless communication standard, so a lot of these things are built out by a standards bodies, so in this case the International Telecommunications Union. And the 3GPP working group, which is the mobile working standards group. And so it’s a set of standards required for the next generation of mobile communication. So, faster speeds, up to 20 gigabit per second is part of the standard, ultra low latency, and this form that’s called the 5GNR or 5G new radio standard. It’s broken out into three categories, so enhanced mobile broadband, which is typically what we’ll see coming down to a handset, ultra reliable, low latency communications, we’re going to see that deployed in campus situations, or areas that are particularly latency sensitive, and massive machine-type communication, so, sensors, IoT, machine to machine communications – and these are broken up for the first time that we’ve seen in mobile telephony style networking into two broad groups, so we have a set of spectrum, so air being used in a range that is typically seen already within these mobile communications, so from the 3 and 4G spectrum. But we also have a technology called millimetre wave, which is a higher frequency and is going to be used as part of this low latency, very high speed networks.

Adam Louca: It’s interesting when you look at the difference between those two bands, so at the traditional 3.5 gigahertz, you’re talking 490 megabits per second, so it’s pretty quick. But when you get into that millimetre wave you can get up to 1.4 gigabytes per second, so massive increase, and that’s where we can start to see this technology truly replacing wires in campus networks.

Craig Lodzinski: So that move from the existing spectrum we use for GSM and LTE which is hundreds of megahertz up to about six gigahertz through to millimetre wave, so 24 to 86 gigahertz span, it’s a much higher frequency, is where we’re seeing a lot of that technology progress. And then with an eye to the future, future standards may be in the terahertz range, in terms of the proportion of spectrum they’re using to achieve the next generation of speed and latency improvements.

Adam Louca: And when we look at it, it’s by comparison, I mean, it’s a real simple comparison for most people, 5G versus 4G is going to be 20 times faster. So it’s a pretty good step jump up, you can’t argue with that too much.

Craig Lodzinski: With having this split in spectrum you have challenges for the equipment that we use, so the concept of beam forming, which is effectively how you shape the radio waves coming in and out of the antenna, to make them as reliable and efficient as possible. So in a similar way to what we’re recording here, with directional mics that pick up sound in a certain way, we can’t have a 360 degree field of pickup cos that would pick up a lot of ambient, the same applies in mobile networking, or any radio device really, whereby the beam forming is used to improve the efficiency of it. We see that in an enterprise perspective, with wireless access points, some are designed to be mounted on the ceiling, some are designed for outdoors, indoors, we have specific antenna patterns that are used to improve the uptake in an 802.11 space for the Wi-Fi standard. We also see that in mobile telephony, and particularly the higher we move, in terms of frequency, so into that millimetre wave spectrum, because those waves are a much higher frequency, they’re subject to a lot of interference, they’re subject to a lot of degradation, so by using beam forming techniques, we’re getting greater resiliency in being able to open up these areas of spectrum that previously wouldn’t be usable whatsoever.

Adam Louca: And I guess for me, that’s really driving the shift towards small cell architecture, so lots of small radios that are placed everywhere. At the moment, they reckon there’s 12 million small cells out there. Across the world, by 2025, that’s going to be 70 million, and really, what a small cell is, it’s a small radio, it covers a small area of potentially several hundred square metres, up to a kilometre, whereas the large cell radios, you might have maybe one or two across a town that might cover several miles. In the future these will be a lot more distributed, they’ll be a lot smaller, they’ll be lower powered, but they’ll be able to provide much higher bandwidth, and they’ll also start to be able to counteract some of the issues that Craig mentioned earlier about the signal being attenuated by distance because it’s such a high frequency. You are constantly having to offset these two opposing challenges of this bandwidth increase, but then a decrease in how far that signal will go that causes us to change how we deploy this technology and how we consume it.

Craig Lodzinski: Absolutely, it’s finding the right balance, and I think different organisations and different industries and use cases will find the balance that works for them for their use case. All we’re talking about effectively here is radio, and we can see the difference between FM radio longwave radio, Radio 4 longwave still used primarily as a bit of an anachronism, but…

Michael Bird: For the shipping forecast?

Craig Lodzinski: For the shipping forecast. Because the ability of that wavelength to go much further, and it’s also used as one of the tests for whether Britain still exists on nuclear submarine fleet.

Michael Bird: So from an infrastructure perspective then, what are the implications of all of these different elements then? The fact that there’s millimetre waves that’s not going to be travelling quite as far, it’s going to be having to be using beam forming technology, what’s the impact on how quickly that can be rolled out, and the infrastructure that’s required?

Adam Louca: I guess, typically, when we talk about 5G, this isn’t going to be a technology that’s going to be deployed by most enterprises. It might be consumed and used by enterprises, but it's going to be delivered by ISPs. The technologies that Craig’s talked about are specifically related to this use case for IoT devices so where you need to get this high-speed, low latency and we’re likely to see specialist operators use these technologies to deploy the right data collection, networks to allow them to collect information back from sensors. It’s unlikely that most organisations are going to be setting up their own infrastructure to do this. Some of the areas we expect to see investment from different companies is around things like vehicle to vehicle communication, so as everyone is now moving towards autonomous or semi autonomous vehicles, actually they need to share more data between each other, so these types of technologies that allows very low latency communication is particularly important when you could consider two vehicles coming into collision. If we then also think about some things that you also use for safety systems, things like traffic cameras or intersection lights where we’re actually going to be monitoring traffic and using that to make smarter decisions, if you look at some of the smart motorway stuff, that really all depends on the ability to take signals very quickly from one source and process them and get that data back out to form some sort of actionable intelligence, so it's all about moving that data from the edge into some sort of computing layer to actually process and eventually send back something that is useful. The other thing to also consider with 5G is – that’s a lot of bandwidth and we've got to consider how we’re going to backhaul all of that traffic, so we spoke earlier about 5G is great, it starts to remove value from the wires and the ground, but it also means we will have these very concentrated nodes, so these areas where we've got a lot of data and being concentrated here and we now need to get all that traffic back onto the network, so it will probably push a requirement for organisations to invest in more high-speed switching. It will require the need for additional fibre runs potentially into those areas - there's a number of 5G providers who offer backhaul via radio wave rather than via fibre, so this is one of the interesting things, there is only one provider that's able to provide at the moment and they're currently in a tussle at the moment with the UK government, and actually a number of governments around the world and that's Huawei, so they offer a 5G baseband antennas, so the actual signal boxes, but they are currently under investigation because of potential concern from the UK government about Chinese state interference in what is considered critical national infrastructure.

Michael Bird: So you're saying most of the providers can make 5G equipment but it requires it to be plugged into the network via a cable, but this other company can do it without having to have it plugged in?

Adam Louca: Yes, they essentially bounce that back to another location. Eventually you’ve got to plug-in somewhere, it's not totally magic, but that gives you the ability to not need these cables everywhere which further reduces that investment required in the ground. Now it feels to me, from a security perspective, that this is the first time that we've seen a real realisation of the importance of this infrastructure within the UK, I think there's the move towards cyber warfare, if you want to call it that, but really state on state aggression using the internet and using attacking critical national infrastructure, it is definitely happening. The skills available by these organisations, and really the risk it poses has increased over the last few years and I think this is going to be a long term investment for the UK. So we’re really starting to see them take it very seriously about the types of equipment that is going in, who that's been produced by, potentially what interactions they may have with different governments, whether they're seen as friendly or as trading partners or otherwise because actually the understanding that any flaw in this technology, any flaw or back door, or the ability to place a flaw afterwards could ultimately be the difference between taking down what is quite a key part of our infrastructure. If you took the mobile phone system offline today, think about the impact that would cause to most people, the amount of people who consume services that are critical to their lives via the internet and any sort of ability to disrupt that could have a massive impact on the UK.

Michael Bird: And I'm guessing if it's going to be used for things like IoT then we're going to be starting to use it for healthcare and fire engines and police cars and tracking those and getting them to people on time and if they are reliant on that it gets taken down for whatever reason it does become an issue, doesn’t it?

Adam Louca: It starts to pose a question that’s much wider than this podcast. Ultimately I guess as we go towards becoming potentially more protectionist and increasing our concern about other governments around the world and how we trade and how we deal with other countries we do have to start to be more concerned the impact those the countries may have on us, given that technology is a very global sphere. Actually most of the components we use every day are manufactured outside of the UK. The majority of the technology market does exist outside of the UK, so we are ultimately reliant on a lot of other countries for what is very critical infrastructure and we have to be satisfied that we understand the risk and at least we can control the risk where possible. This is probably not a call for us to take back control of our borders and start building technology in the UK again because that ship has sailed; we do have a number of great technology companies here but the reality is that silicone exists out in Asia and China, and that’s a fact of life.

Craig Lodzinski: It's difficult to anticipate how much the overall deployment would cost. I think for consumer purposes, most of the deployment is going to be in the standard mobile laptop type use case and so actually we're going to see a very similar deployment because from a cost-benefit perspective, there’s only so much that you can charge for a mobile data package. So the UK actually has very low cost in terms of mobility and part of that is fuelled by the fact that we're a fairly dense country and other than in North Wales or anywhere where a train runs through you can get mobile signal pretty much anywhere with a relatively small deployment of cell towers, whereas larger countries that need greater number of cells are going to be more expensive. But I think these really expensive deployments, the millimetre-wave, the specialist narrowband IoT, that's where we're going to see the enterprises coming into the fore, so will organisations building campuses now instead of running single or multi mode fibres between buildings to link their switches together, use point to point on the 5G standard because fundamentally 5G is a networking standard so you can use it for pretty much what you want and there's definitely going to be a split between the consumer applications in terms of what we consume a phone, laptop, end user computing perspective and how enterprises use the capabilities to change their business model and the way they operate.

Michael Bird: Would your home Wi-Fi routers become 5G?

Craig Lodzinski: There’s still definitely the potential for that and there a lot of organisations are trialling it, again it will vary country to country and territory to territory so the United States and organisations like Virgin Media who use cable, so that uses the DOCSIS standard - new and improved DOCSIS standards go well over the gigabit range and can provide a lot of bandwidth so if you're in existing cable areas those probably won't be serviced that well by 5G to home. Outside of that there is definitely the potential a run 5G to home rather than copper or fibre.

Adam Louca: I was going to say, as somebody who lives in a semi rural location with a broadband speed of less than 20 megabits for my sins, we have fibre to cable, to the green box, but we are a kilometre away from the green box, so the copper, so you get under 20 megabits. So currently we have a 4G external router that gives us about 30, so potentially even better than the cable at the moment, given that the standard in the future could push that into the several hundreds, for those sort of rural areas and for rural broadband programmes I can see it being really useful, so I expect that to be something that people will look into but as always there's a cost benefit analysis about deploying a cell tower to those areas, but I guess if you’ve already got an area where you put a cell up, actually swapping that over to 5G technology isn't probably that much of a leap really. So I expect that to be pretty useful and help us to get that last 10% into broadband use in rural areas especially.

Michael Bird: So let's move on to talking about organisations then, so it's 2019. Am I right in saying that I can't buy a 5G phone at the moment? There are no 5G devices the exist?

Craig Lodzinski: It's funny you should say that. So at the time of recording this we don't know what's going to be announced soon but Mobile World Congress is coming up in Barcelona, it's the big mobile industry event and we are anticipating that 2019 is when we're going to see the first available 5G end devices breaking cover. So last year there were some demos on offer from Intel which was a laptop with 1.2 gigabit network card in it that was running 5G, Huawei had some demos there, ZTE, a lot of the big particularly Chinese manufacturers who have an integrated supply chain. I think hopefully, probably around the time this comes out we're going to see the first devices available breaking cover in Barcelona, but also a lot more clarity on how the infrastructure is going to look for the big infrastructure providers.

Michael Bird: So that's going to be my follow-up point, so there are no devices as of yet, obviously we’ve got to wait and see if something gets released, there's no infrastructure as of yet, at least in the UK. Is there infrastructure anywhere, in the States?

Craig Lodzinski: There’s trials going on all over the place, so I think Vodafone have got seven trial areas in cities, there's other organisations as part of the 5G grouping, and the infrastructure providers so your Ericsson and the like, deploying equipment to test that. At the moment there isn't any active subscription availability but there's definitely roll outs going from both sides.

Adam Louca: 2020 I think is when it seems to be said that the most, so at least Europe anyway, which will be ahead of the USA, so we should start to see the first actual consumer networks that the enterprises can consume in 2020 coming online.

Michael Bird: Looking at where we are today, probably the best way to describe 5G at the moment in the UK is still in beta mode, still being tested, still trying to figure it out. Why should an organisation care about it? And what could an organisation do to prepare themselves for it? Prepare their environment for it? Start thinking about it - what should an IT professional be thinking about, and talking about now?

Adam Louca: So I guess for me the opportunity that 5G offers for organisations is the ability to distribute your workforce. Everyone wants to work more flexibly in a more mobile way. If you can start to remove the network as a barrier to that and you can start to remove the speed and latency as a barrier to that you can think about people being able to work truly everywhere. Actually at the moment although I've got a 4G access on my laptop, generally I will seek out a coffee shop or somewhere to get access to Wi-Fi, just because it's more stable. 5G gives us the ability, especially in metropolitan areas, to remove that overhead. The ability to use 4K video, the ability to use full HD camera streaming, using voice calling becomes massively possible. So if you think about that it's really understanding how this technology enables you to change the way people work and also to change the type of content you're delivering down to these end devices. One of the big challenges you see with a lot of customers is actually managing their IT fleet outside of the organisation. If you think about patches, you think about updates, you think about large file transfers to those devices, Mike, you’ll know as someone who works in our digital marketing team, if you wanted to send me a video we’d recorded - say that’s a gig and a half – you’d have to send it to me and I’d have to probably be on Wi-Fi to get that. In this world, in this predictable future, I could have a several hundred megabit download on my phone, on my laptop, so all of a sudden I can get those types of files really easily and we start to remove those limits that are currently artificially placed on us on the types of content we can consume and when you start to think about VR and start to think about potentially AR experiences, these things are going to be larger and larger media content. But if you just think actually we've got screens that have really high resolution now, most laptop screens are 4K these days. You don't watch 4K video on them because you don't have the mobile data because we don't have the speed, we don’t have the bandwidth to deliver that. We can put a 4K camera in most phones nowadays - I think 4K is only about eight or 12 megapixels anyway, so the most cameras are actually already much better than that but we don't send that high quality video because we can't, because of the data limits so this is all about really removing those caps and enabling people to send more rich content to each other and I guess have better experiences, better interactions with their colleagues.

Craig Lodzinski: For sure and I think it's going to open up new possibilities for organisations as well in terms of what we see as being new organisations. So if we look at YouTube and Netflix are both relatively new companies. Netflix started out shipping DVDs because there simply wasn't the bandwidth available to stream high-quality video. Netflix now accounts for a large double digit proportion of global internet bandwidth, because video takes up an awful lot of bandwidth and Netflix is one of the most popular services going. And as we expand the amount of bandwidth, from a technology perspective, it's a bit like a gas if it exists as a larger box, we will fill it with data in one way or another. You only have to look at file sizes have got bigger, as storage has got bigger, and everything is just getting larger because we have the technology to support that. And expanding the amount of bandwidth we can push down over the air is only going to fuel that iterative cycle as new organisations spring up or existing organisations pivot their capabilities to take advantage of that change in technology and the increased availability. One of the big tests is going to come when Tokyo is going to be blanked entirely in 5G coverage for the 2020 Olympics. That not only benefits the overall connectivity but because of certain technologies we do have in 5G, you can think that when we look at outside broadcasts, and the use of 5G is going to enable moving a lot more of that data, that video, the commentary all the things you see huge rafts of cables being slung out across sporting arenas - there are going to be trials at the Olympics to move that over 5G, rather than having to run copper.

Michael Bird: So are you going to have a broadcast camera with a 5G chip in it, and it’ll be sending it straight to the, wherever it is…

Adam Louca: And the latency is much better as well so that’s one of the key things, the latency’s improved versus 4G, so you don't have as much time between somebody moving their mouth and then catching the audio tracks, you see less synchronisation issues. I guess for me, the video thing is going to be the key area of interest. You can imagine seeing Cisco UC equipment, that actually has a 5G chip in it that’s small enough that you can take with you and pop somewhere on the side and all of a sudden you’ve got a truly mobile telepresence set up. At the moment telepresence is great because actually, it’s meant to make remote people here, but then you realise the remote person needs a bunch of infrastructure in a bunch of thick stuff that really defies the purpose of anywhere, anytime, anyplace sort of thing, and I think this starts to really change that and starts to mean that we can give really rich videoconferencing abilities anywhere we go, and we can take the technology with us without having to worry about the infrastructure.

Michael Bird: Ok so we mentioned that 2020 is about the time that this is going to start rolling out, but can you give us a bit of a timeline as to when you think stuff is going to happen?

Craig Lodzinski: The big problem with it is that, as we discussed earlier, there's a lot of government regulation and oversight involved and while we have the technology, the spectrum is licensed - you need a licence for the air, which sounds a little bit draconian, but it's something we've had for a very long time and even radio mics that we might use that are requiring Ofcom licence, the same is true globally the spectrum has to be auctioned off and then we have the issue that you can take the ideal network scenario as a teleco operator and your government can decide that it's too big of a security racing and immediately cut that down.

Adam Louca: I think what's going to be interesting, though, and I think one of the first places that we might see this come out is in smart cities. So where we have massive amounts of IoT devices that, you know, sensors that are out there, that you just couldn't cable up, it just wouldn't make sense, it wouldn't work, so actually where you need to connect to all the sensors back, actually 5G is going to be the technology that's going to be used there, so if you look at any of the smart city test sites, so I know Bristol is a test site, they’re deploying thousands of sensors that are measuring small pieces of data constantly. So things like air quality, temperature, humidity, traffic, noise, and it's really interesting the crazy thing about big data and data analytics is it's not really what you expect to find, it's the unexpected that comes out. So actually, does the increase or decrease in air pollution cause an increase in crime? Actually it's not something you can guess at, but actually the data will tell us these things, and there are often unintended consequences of capturing this data that allows us to make small changes to the environment that has actually quite large impact.

Michael Bird: So what's the future for mobile networking? We’ve talked about 5G, is it going to be 6G, 7G? How does this work?

Craig Lodzinski: So obviously we don't know what the future is going to hold in terms of networks, but if history is a good predictor, we should know that generally we’ll have increasing iterations as we go forward. If we look back in the annals of history we can see that people are saying that you can never get more than a gigabit across a standard copper cable and yet we can run 10gbase-T over standard twisted-pair, so there's definitely a lot of iteration to come forward. Whether we’ll need that bandwidth anytime soon, whether they'll be a real desire to invest in that is perhaps another question, there's only so much that you can send to individual devices and that data still be useful. But certainly we will I'm sure see a 6th generation mobile networking standard come out from the relevant working boards and groups and task forces, but whether that will actually be deployed widely anytime in the near future is very difficult to tell, I think it depends a lot on the deployment and adoption of 5G technologies and importantly because this stuff is expensive to roll out, whether the uptake is significant enough to make it very profitable for mobile network operators.

Michael Bird: And is there a theoretical limit or a scientific limitation to this? Surely we must get to a point where we can't get any faster, we can't send more data over the airwaves?

Adam Louca: I don't think so, because I think ultimately you find new ways of encoding the data, it's not about the frequency typically. Previously you would say the hard limit is the frequency, so if you're only using that as one way of encoding your data, you can't go faster than how quickly you can vibrate whatever the transmission medium is, so maybe the air molecules or the electrons if you’re using cables but we got round that by encoding the data, so doing multiple different things that meant that you weren't just sending one bit of the signal, you were sending four bits and eight bits and 16 bits and 32 bits and so on and so forth. Ultimately there isn't a limit because actually we’ll find a way around it and find another way of dealing with it. I think the hard bit, without making one of those comments that you feel is probably going to come back and bite you is, you have to think about why. I think at some point there won't be any reason to have any more, there's only so much data you need to transfer, but I'm sure that 15 years ago someone said to you do we need a gigabit internet, people were like, “no.”

Craig Lodzinski: We try not to make predictions. I think the head of IBM said there would be a global market for maybe six computers at one point. This is why you don't make predictions, but in terms of the future 6G roll out, the Center for Converged TeraHertz Communications and Sensing are investigating new radio technologies that will make up the 6G spectrum. That has the potential to be in the 100 gigabit range, so as I said previously, whilst I think we will definitely see some form of standard come forward or perhaps a group of different competing standards come forward in order of using air to transmit very high bandwidth and low-latency communications, the timeline for when that actually gets rolled out or adopted, even a company such as ours at Softcat, we still have very few customers deploying 100 gigabit fixed wire networks inside their data centres. The idea that we would see that being used over the air I think is some way off.

Adam Louca: I think for me as a user, really all I'm looking forward to having is, we all know that 4G should be good enough today. Realistically for most of our uses, 4G running optimally should give us enough bandwidth, but it doesn't because actually it gets congested and actually you get less than optimal signal. So what I'm looking forward to is the specification will move up so the theoretical maximum will be we can get 900 megabits, or we’ll probably all end up getting about 100 and being really happy. So as often with lot of these things the sort of Nirvana of the standard, or high end is not what everyone gets, but everyone's more happy with the 20% of what they get. So you think about when we went from 3G to 4G, everyone was like, “you’re going to get 150 megabits over-the-air.” Nobody does, but we’re still a lot happier to get 20 to 30 megabits, that still feels a lot faster than 3G did when you get four or five. So as always, it’s that step change increase that actually improves usability and improves the user experience, so as a user that's what I'm looking forward to. The challenge with all of this stuff is just coverage. If you haven't got coverage, if the cell towers aren’t there, then you're not ultimately going to get the performance, so we are still beholden on the ISPs to put the investment out there.

Michael Bird: So to summarise?

Adam Louca: So to summarise, 5G is going to give us high speed connections and it’s also going to give us the opportunity around low latency connections to allow us to connect to specialist kinds of devices. We’re not going to see anything become a reality until 2020 at the earliest, and probably realistically, 2021, 2022 before it becomes available for consumers.  Unfortunately no devices are around today, so I think this is one of those things that there's a lot of press about it and a lot of people are asking how this does this impact us? But probably the summary from this episode really is, be aware it's coming, but probably don't panic about it at the moment. We’ve still got a lot of ground work to do, there’s still a lot of things to be sorted out and it probably isn't going to affect your next three to five-year buying cycle, realistically. And finally I guess the opportunities that it does open is if you're a developing business and you’re wondering how this actually might impact you, well the opportunity this might present you if you work in the industry of connected sensors, then this technology is definitely going to be of use to you, if you work in automotive industries or safety critical systems then this technology will open up new avenues around low-latency communications which could be particularly useful for these sectors. I think if you're a business that's looking into virtual reality or ultra high resolution video then this might enable you to deliver that to more consumers out there.

Craig Lodzinski: I think Adam’s point stands out, it's one really for the future and it's one to be mindful of, but we're talking here a very significant national and international infrastructure technology, so it's definitely worth, in terms of business decision-makers keeping an eye on understanding the potential implications for it, I don't think this is going to be a revolutionary overnight technology because of the amount of infrastructure and different variables and governmental influence required in terms of getting a broad, fully function deployment, but certainly it gives us a window into the future of what we're going to be looking at in terms of the speed and latency implications of wireless communications and we can then look at the changes in mobile telephony between 2, 3 and 4G to understand the implications that has as well as the wider context of machine-to-machine communications and ultra-low latency.

Michael Bird: Well Adam and Craig, thank you so much for your time it's been really interesting talking to you both about 5G. Listeners, if there's anything in this show that has piqued your interest, or if you’d like to talk someone at Softcat about anything we’ve talked about in this episode, do check out the show notes, we’ll include lots of information there about some of what we’ve talked about, as well as some contact information if you'd like to speak to someone. Also make sure you do click subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. So thank you for listening to Explain IT from Softcat and goodbye.