Why Verizon’s CEO is Bullish on 5G

5G could well be one of the most transformative new networking communications technologies in recent memory, which is why Verizon is betting big on it.

At the IBM Think conference this week, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam was onstage with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, talking about the collaboration between the two companies. McAdam used his time on the keynote stage to emphasize why he’s bullish on 5G.

“I think 5G will usher in the fourth industrial revolution,” McAdam said.

What Does 5G Enable?

Today an average smartphone handset can hand 10 mbit/s of throughput, with 5G, Verizon expects to be able to deliver at least 1 Gigabit of throughput to devices. McAdam said in Verizon’s 5G field trials, his company has achieved up to 25 Gbps of throughput over wireless.

The dramatically increased throughput provided by 5G, will further enable Internet of Things (IoT) devices. McAdam said that with 5G, Verizon can literally attach 1000x more devices to every cellular site than it can today with older wireless protocols.

McAdam said that for city use, where there are smart lighting applications, connected 5G lighting will be able to help save 70 percent of power needs.


“5G also has a very short latency,” McAdam said.

Today, McAdam said that from the average cell site to a target device and back takes an average of 200 ms. With 5G latency drops to less than 1 ms. The reduced latency will change the dynamic of how devices work and are powered.

“If you think about all the things you have to load onto a device because the network cannot load quickly, all that computing power can now be put in the mobile edge,” McAdam said. “So the device can be thinner and get much longer battery life.”

“We expect that in a mobile phone environment, you’ll only have to charge your phone, once a month,” he added.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty commented that 5G gives IBM a platform to help organizations run smarter businesses. Helping to fully enable 5G will require companies like Verizon and IBM to partner.

McAdam said that with 4G, the model for operators was to just provide the connectivity and then let everyone else build on top of that.

“We don’t like that too much, our investors don’t like that too much, but we’ll probably do that in some cases,” McAdam said. “Then there is the other side, where we’ll publish APIs and work with people to do whatever applications they want.”

McAdam said that what he prefers is to take a “middle road” and partner with industry leaders, to help enable the right capabilities. He added that 5G networks will have many variables and not all of them will be exposed in the same way as they were with 4G. He stressed that Verizon will need to learn how to partner better with organizations in order to fully realize the power of 5G.

“The old Bell System didn’t teach you to play well with others,” McAdam said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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