5G makes its Olympic debut
Some of the the first to experience the future of wireless technology, well before most humans, will be South Korea’s wild boars. That’s because 5G, the fifthgeneration wireless network, is making its worldwide debut at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The technology is being used to ward off the porcine pests which roam the mountainous region around the Games, with fast-acting systems that activate deterrents, spew gases and emit tiger roars.
That’s just the start of 5G — South Korea’s attempt to showcase the firstin-the-world commercial use of the technology that is not scheduled to roll out globally until 2020.
At the Games, shuttle buses run with no humans at the wheel, and 360-degree images in real time show competing figure skaters as they glide around the ice.
Fifth-generation wireless networks are designed to be super-fast, about 100 times faster than 4G. At 10 gigabits a second, 5G can send a fulllength high-definition movie in seconds.
The technology also paves the way for the “internet of things”, where devices from refrigerators to traffic lights to dog collars can talk to each other.
The Pyeongchang showcase, engineered by South Korean telecom carrier KT, uses technology from Intel, Ericsson and Samsung. Left out is Huawei Technologies, which is also racing to develop 5G technology.
About 1 billion people worldwide are likely to be 5G-enabled within five years, and that will lead to US$12.3 trillion in global economic output by t he mid- 2030s, according to researchers from Ericsson and IHS Markit.
Due to its speed, 5G opens possibilities that even engineers still aren’t aware of, much like the explosion of apps after the release of Apple’s first iPhone.
At Pyeongchang, tiny 5G-linked cameras attached to bobsleds will stream live video from the point of view of the pilots. The 360-degree videos of figure-skating events allow viewers to stop the action to view twists and turns from every angle. Self-driving buses have interior video screens showing live coverage of events in 5G instead of windows, and use 5G to navigate the roads.
In the countryside near the Olympic venue, 5G is also being used to repel wild boars. Tens of thousands of them rampage through potato and carrot fields and potentially threaten the safety of Olympics tourists.
The current 4G-powered system currently can’t tell wild boars from deer or humans, said Han Taek-sik, a KT network engineer, confusing anything approaching as a threat. The quality of images sent from them is also so low they can’t be analysed to gain intelligence on wild boars and their behavioral patterns.
Once 5G is up and running for good, the upgrade will be able to use 360-degree cameras and drones, said Han.
“There’s a lot of hype about 5G as a revolution, but most people here don’t even know how t heir smartphones work,” Han said. “They don’t have to know 5G, as long as 5G helps the devices that help these people live better lives.”
Fifth-generation wireless networks are designed to be super-fast, about 100 times faster than 4G
At Pyeongchang, 5G wireless is being used to deliver real-time video of events.