CEO Club Briefing

5G Technology

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College Chief Executives Club  

February 15, 2018


Most people, they hear 5G and they say, well, so it’ll just be even faster than 4G. It will be. It will be faster. But the speed is not what’s so important. It’s latency. If you don’t know what latency is, it’s the moment you push the button or the moment you request information or the moment you try to transact in a mobile world, how long does it take for that to happen? You try to download a video—you know, you’ve seen how long that can take. With 5G, latency by and large goes away. It becomes instantaneous. Instantaneous is really important as you start to think about things beyond surfing the web and e-mail and watching your favorite movie, Game of Thrones, or CNN—as you begin to think things beyond that.

Consider autonomous cars. I happen to be a big believer that we will experience and live in a world with autonomous cars—cars without drivers. Now, that requires extensive networking capability. The automobiles need to know where other automobiles are. They need to know where the traffic is. They need to know if there are people or elements coming out in the road in front of the automobile. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to be in one of these, I suddenly will get my head around what latency means, because you cannot live in a world like that, where an automobile is driving itself, and have latency.

This is why 5G is so important. It takes latency out of the game. Internet of Things, all the connected devices we think of that are driving anything from manufacturing processes—think about manufacturing. If you need to have a high-speed drill turn off for safety reasons, you cannot afford latency. Think about the world of virtual and augmented reality. This is where latency and these kind of services become really, really critical. Just like 3G really opened the world for things like the iPhone and smartphone technology, 5G is going to open the door for a whole new range of services, technologies, capabilities like autonomous cars. So I’m probably as enthusiastic about this technological move as anything I’ve been a part of.