Qualcomm held its third annual Snapdragon Summit in Maui last week, where the chip giant debuted its latest mobile and connected-PC platforms.
Partners AT&T and Verizon lit up live 5G networks on-site at the Grand Wailea and there was no shortage of 5G talk from executives alike.
Here’s a round-up of some of the 5G moments:
“5G is a Qualcomm-sized problem,” Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon told an audience of journalists and analysts during opening day keynote presentations. “The expectations of the industry right now [is] very high. We have a very mature wireless ecosystem and the bar is very high for what users expect for the smartphone and technologies.”
Amon said Qualcomm’s technology has been developed to meet the extreme requirements of next generation services and applications, especially for devices that could not be connected to wireless because of the reliability requirements. “You have multiple elements of complexity that require a systems-level solution and innovation,” he noted.
On day two of the Summit, Qualcomm unveiled its Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform – more on that here.
“I will deliver on the promise that I made in Hong Kong,” Amon said as he showed off a millimeter wave-supported 5G smartphone reference design connected to the 5G networks at the hotel. “It took a lot of work to get to this 5G icon you can see on the top, that is a live 5G icon.”
“5G is here; it isn’t that far off,” Amon said. “We’re now in this final stage that will give us confidence, that in the next few months we’ll be able to see 5G flagship smartphones. This will lay the foundation from smartphones and then later to cars and virtually every electronic device that will be connected.”
Last week AT&T and Verizon both announced they will each offer 5G millimeter wave-capable Samsung smartphones during the first half of 2019, powered by Qualcomm’s X50 modem. AT&T also announced it’s coming out with a sub-6 GHz band-supported device in the second half of 2019. More on that here.
“Our strategy is based on the ecosystem and millimeter wave is what’s possible first,” Gordon Mansfield, VP of converged access and device technology at AT&T, said during a meeting with members of the press.
Inseego was also on-site showing off a virtual reality telemedicine use-case demo, using the company’s mobile hotspot device powered by the 855 mobile platform and X50 5G modem and antenna modules over Verizon’s 5G network.
The application, created by Columbia University, involves a remote physical therapy session where patients in their home would work with a doctor in the office to perform VR tasks like keeping a ball on a platform.
“Multi-gigabit speed and sub-10 millisecond latency is what makes [the demo] really work,” Dan Mondor, chairman and CEO of Inseego, told Wireless Week during a demo presentation. “This is instantaneous, like you’re really there.”
Mondor said enterprise and business applications will form initial use-cases for 5G mobile hotspot devices as well as power users, but acknowledged that as time goes on and “the technology goes through the learning curve and price points go down, there’s a more mass appeal.”
The Inseego mobile hotspot, which will launch exclusively on Verizon in 2019, supports millimeter wave and sub-6 GHz bands and has Wi-Fi 6 support built-in.
5G to Be Felt Across Industries, Impact Enterprise
A common refrain at the event is that 5G technology will extend across all industries, impacting services and business models.
“5G absolutely promises to transform the way we live, play and learn,” Nicki Palmer, chief network engineering officer and head of wireless networks at Verizon, said during remarks at the event. “It can impact every industry, every vertical, our global economy and, frankly, our global society.”
“A year ago we would’ve been talking about 5G in the future, and now, we’re able to use the present tense. With new technology like 5G, there is definitely a first-mover advantage,” she said, noting Verizon has this advantage in its engineering expertise, fiber assets and deployments, and in strategic partnerships, as well as mmWave.
AT&T’s SVP of Wireless Product Marketing Kevin Petersen pointed to enterprise use-cases for 5G.
“We expect the first instances of 5G in a real way, to come in through the enterprise door,” Petersen said. “You are giving these businesses the ability to capitalize on new opportunities, create new business models, and address critical challenges that weren’t deemed probable before.”
He pointed to examples like portable, temporary 5G platforms used when needed for broadcasting in streaming 360 video, as well as applications in smart manufacturing and new retail experiences through location and data insights.
“Ultimately it’s an economic equation that I think is going to help drive this forward,” he said.
According to Qualcomm’s Amon, the transition to 5G is unique and will be fundamentally different than earlier wireless technologies.
“[5G] is going to drive a lot of innovation across multiple industries, not only the wireless industry anymore. It will expand wireless in all of the other ecosystems and fundamentally change how people do business,” Amon added.
Indeed, Qualcomm sees an opportunity in the enterprise market for the always-connected PC and debuted its Snapdragon 8cx Compute Platform in Maui. More on that here.
Samsung is also seeing activity on the enterprise side according to Derek Johnston, head of marketing and 5G business development for Samsung’s Networks Division.
“The challenge with enterprises is they don’t know what they don’t know about 5G yet,” Johnston told Wireless Week. “We’ve had a lot of inquiries from our mobile enterprise customers, ranging from major big-box retailers to transportation to also manufacturing and segments like automotive.”
Johnston said Samsung is currently trying to build awareness with enterprise customers about what applications new 5G technologies are suited for and what can be enabled with 4G LTE. Samsung also intends to work with operator partners and enterprises at testbed facilities to show those businesses 5G use-cases that make for real commercial success, Johnston noted.
“We think it [5G] is well beyond devices,” he added.