About Varun Amesur

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Innovation or Invention: The Vision for 5G

 

Think about the first time you had a phone. Chances are it was a simple flip phone modeled after the legendary Motorola Razr. Now think about how much you could do with that device. Sure you could call, text, and maybe even download a Jingle Bell ringtone for the holidays, but could you browse movies or stream music? Times have changed: the digital age has redefined how much is possible with the little device that fits inside the palm of your hand.

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To give some perspective, the modern era has progressed more than 40,000 times in speed since the first AT&T bell telephone running on 2.4 kbps.[1] With each advancement in radio infrastructure, the telecommunications industry has redefined the past. Improving speeds for consumers and businesses alike has kept the race to innovate alive, yet the industry has not seen change since 2009, when the concept of watching movies on a 4 inch screen was first introduced. Is it time to once again disturb the dynamic by introducing a new standard for networks, or should companies spend more time in research and development to innovate, not invent?

4G has been a successful technology. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are all leaders in the industry. But being more than six years old, there is certainly more to the horizon. Referring to the figure below, the progress is unprecedented. In 2001, downloading a two hour movie would take a flight from New York to Sydney but by 2020, when 5G with 10 Gbps speeds is launched, it’ll take less than 4 seconds.[2] Wow. That’s fast. 5G is undoubtedly going to be a game-changer for an industry dominated by smart devices including cell-phones, electric vehicles, and consumer electronics – the question that remains is if the time is right to roll out this long-awaited boost in performance.

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“The Guardians of the Galaxy” is a fantastic movie with a Rotten Tomato rating of 91%; however, if it takes 26 hours to load, how much will you truly enjoy it? With 5G, this is no longer a concern. Under 3.6 seconds, you could be flying at 30,000 feet and watching Chris Pratt’s action stunts.

In a recent interview with CNET, Verizon announced its strategy for 5G technology in the upcoming 12 months.[3] What’s crazy to think about is how much this will change the industry. Going from downloading a movie in currently 8 minutes to then 3.7 seconds is innovative. The benefits will be incredible. Think about healthcare, finance, and even entertainment. Patients will be able to communicate with doctors immediately and Wall Street brokers will be able to trade shares quicker than ever. With a standard that is nearly 50 times as current day, business will undoubtedly boom into a new era, positively impacting all industries that surround it.

After Verizon’s big announcement, the industry was stirred up with excitement and competition. Verizon announced that it plans to have this technology implemented by 2017. With such, AT&T jumped the gun and gave a response that most would not expect. What did the largest telecom company respond with? The company’s chief, Glenn Lurie commented, “We’re not at a point to be making promises or commitments to customers as to what 5G is. We as an industry have been really good at overpromising and underdelivering when it comes to new technology.”[4] Is this something an innovative company such as AT&T should be focused on? Finding reasons not to push for a new trend in the digital age when clearly its competitor is all for the technology is not a great way to impress shareholders or even customers. Verizon responded to AT&T’s “wait and see” approach with “Innovation happens when you’re willing to look at things a little differently than others, and you’re willing to put in the hard work to make your vision a reality.”[4] Does Verizon want AT&T to give the company some friendly competition, or is the big red check confident enough that it truly can change the world in a matter of a couple years?

The industry date for adoption for this new technology is 2020; however, Verizon’s Alberto Canal truly believes that the company can beat that date. Working with hardware companies such as Cisco and Samsung, Verizon can be a leader in the industry. With 50 times the speed of current 4G speed, the new technology that Verizon is proposing is bound to redefine internet and mobile networks. Additionally, it would open more networks to accommodate for more Americans trying to access internet. Expanding the internet is not only limited to Verizon but also includes firms such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. So, what’s stopping AT&T from joining onboard? Take a look at the below video to see why AT&T might be justified in not rushing 5G to the market.

CTIA’s Tom Sawanobori has claimed that mobile traffic in the United States will increase by 600% in 2019. If this is the case, there needs to be infrastructure set in place to accommodate such a vast number of people. Where will most of these devices come from? The analyst believes that most of the these come from Smart devices (things like Google’s Next Thermostat or NETGEAR’s Arlo Video cameras). The whole concept is based on just predictions currently. So, in some regards AT&T is correct in not launching a service that has still yet to be accepted internationally or even approved by the correct agencies required for such deployment. Doing so might lead to unnecessary cost increases for a service that is not fully adopted.

Should this up and coming technology be rushed or continue to be developed? The question is tough because even if Verizon intends to innovate and implement a new technology, it will not be able to placed into consumer use until all companies, government, and respective agencies agree on such different changes in network infrastructure. So, planning and putting more time in research & development in this case may make more sense. It will be interesting to see who goes to the top with this: the innovator or the bystander. Either way, 5G is certainly the future, but only time will tell if the top two giants should innovate or invent.

 

  1. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2399984,00.asp
  2. http://www.cnet.com/news/how-5g-will-push-a-supercharged-network-to-your-phone-home-and-car/
  3. http://www.cnet.com/news/verizon-to-hold-worlds-first-crazy-fast-5g-wireless-field-tests-next-year/
  4. http://www.engadget.com/2015/09/14/att-5g-lurie/
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyhqGaiBT0Q

TESLA: The Future or a Gimmick?

Autonomous driving vehicles have been in the works since the 1980s as a top-secret research project from Carnegie Mellon University’s Navlab. While still not fully integrated in the 21st century as a means of everyday driving, corporations now have taken a lead to innovate what the future holds for Henry Ford’s 1908 Model T. Google, a leader in the industry, has been working on its Self-Driving Car (SDC) as part of a Google[x] project since 2009 but has yet to roll out a functional vehicle safe for the roads. Nevertheless, the search giant has been successful in developing an initiative for car manufacturers to think creatively in developing vehicles that are autonomous, energy efficient, and safe.

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Pictured above: Tesla’s new dashboard with Version 7.0. The vehicle now recognizes lane lines and maps a 360 degree view around itself. With sensors positioned to sense 16 feet around the car in every direction and a high-precision digitally-controlled electric assist barking system, the new Autopilot feature is best in class. Click to enlarge.

Tesla, an emerging electric vehicle (EV) disruptor, shocked the world on October 14 with its software update, Version 7.0. How’s 7.0 any different than 6.0? 7.0 includes a beta for Autopilot: a technology that uses four different modules, a forward looking camera, 12 long-range radars, ultrasonics, and GPS to put the car in a realtime position to drive itself. The idea of taking your hands off the wheels is visionary; trying it takes real guts from the driver.

Yes, it’s cool, it’s new, and it’s the X-factor to get you to purchase a $100,000 car. But is it all worth it? And will all cars be self-driving one day? According to Tesla’s Elon Musk, “it would be quite unusual to see cars that don’t have full autonomy within a window of 15- to 20-years.” [4] Kind of a stretch, but if Musk is right, real change is on the horizon. With every car on the road designed to be autonomous, the benefits are unprecedented: fewer accidents, decreased congestion, and increased human productivity.

Great benefits for sure, but this can only happen if people can afford to purchase self-driving EVs. At more than twice the average American salary, the base model for a Tesla is out of the hands of the majority. If Musk wants a system where every car on the road can be driven handsfree, reducing cost should be on his priority list, especially after the recent dip the company has taken for not producing enough cars (the company produced 13,091 and shipped 11,603 versus estimates of selling 50,000 to 55,000).[5]

Tesla has 17% in value from its July 2015 high of $280 per share. Analysts believe this is because the company is not catering for a wider array of consumers. Introducing more economical options for its EVs is necessary for the company to outperform its competitors.

Tesla has lost 17% in value from its July 2015 high of $280 per share. Analysts believe this is because the company is not catering for a wider array of consumers. Introducing more economical options for its EVs is necessary for the company to outperform its competitors.

So is Tesla’s vision for autonomy the future or a gimmick? For sure, the company has taken giant leaps in designing an over-the-air software update that overnight changed an entire industry. But if Tesla wants to be a leader in an upcoming fleet of vehicles, the company has to creatively formulate a way to attract consumers to its lineup. Only then will the James Bond mode in the model S be more than just a 007 access code; rather, an introduction to a new way of driving, hands (and legs) free. [6]

 

 

  1. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/project/alv/www/
  2. https://www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/
  3. http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/your-autopilot-has-arrived
  4. http://fortune.com/2015/11/04/tesla-elon-musk-self-driving-cars/
  5. http://techcrunch.com/2015/11/03/tesla-misses-in-q3-earnings-with-adjusted-revenue-of-1-24-billion-and-a-drop-058-in-eps/
  6. http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/01/tesla-model-s-james-bond-lotus-esprit/