The Future of 5G Unveiled

Joshua Ness

Emerging Technology Director, Formerly Verizon 5G Labs

The Future of 5G Unveiled

What is the transformative potential of 5G? In this episode, Joshua Ness, Emerging Technology Director and former Senior Manager at Verizon 5G Labs emphasizes that 5G represents the next evolution in telecommunications, completely reimagining networks for enhanced connectivity. With its ultra reliability, low latency and high bandwidth, 5G opens up possibilities for businesses and organizations to maximize efficiency, reduce costs and explore new ways of operating.

Joshua Ness:
Ultimately that's the goal of our industry, the telecom industry, is to work with our customers, whether those are individuals like you and me or businesses and corporations or public sector, the government, to come up with ways and use cases for 5G to actually get to work.

This is Horizons: stories about what's next in the world. Powered by Compass Datacenters.

Joshua Ness:
So the G in 5G stands for generation. That's it. It's nothing too complicated or too technical. If 1G through 4G, if you think about it like a house, 1G was the single story house. 2G was adding a second story. 3G was putting in a garage. 4G was the gazebo in the back. 5G bulldozed the entire house and rebuilt a new one. 

It is a complete re-imagining of a network. It is completely new from the ground up; from below the ground all the way up. So a question I get asked a lot is, what can I do with 5G that I can't do on 4G? And there's a couple of different answers on the business side and the enterprise side. 

The answer is a ton. When thinking about emerging technologies and how those technologies get used, it's helpful to think about it in layers. At the very base layers, [is] connectivity. And without connectivity, nothing really exists. Nothing really happens. And so something like 5G, with its ultra reliability and its low latency and its high bandwidth, allows businesses and organizations to really begin exploring how to maximize efficiencies; how to reduce costs, how to not necessarily replace workers, but allow them to do different things. 5G brings with it IT capabilities, massive amounts of speed and bandwidth, microscopic amounts of latency. 

One of the fears about new technologies, especially things like automation – the fourth industrial revolution, artificial intelligence 5G – is that it's going to eliminate jobs. Maybe with every industrial revolution from the steam engine to the printing press to the first computer, there's been this concept of creative destruction where, as new capabilities become realized, others are made redundant. Cloud computing brought with it the lack of a need for robust internal IT departments to manage on-prem server instances. That doesn't necessarily mean that the whole IT function went away. There's still millions of people employed. As IT specialists, the nature of the job changed. And we see the same thing in manufacturing as automation increases. There's a question about jobs, and I think what we're seeing is that some jobs are changing, some functions are being made obsolete while others are growing and others are being invented.

And so, as 5G brings new capabilities in areas of compute, as it changes the way that we think about hardware, as it changes the way that we interact with hardware, some functions, yeah, they become obsolete. But others grow to take their place. And so in one sense, advanced connectivity's role in changing how we work is a tale as old as time. Some jobs go away, other jobs are created. Innovations aren't created in a vacuum. And so what I tell these people is to be careful as they're thinking about their own innovations, as they're thinking about, “What can 5G do for me?” They need to understand that their suppliers are asking the same questions and they're making the same innovations. Their partners are asking the same question, their competitors are asking the same question. Most importantly, their customers are asking the same question. What is all of this doing for me? And how is it going to impact everything from my supply chain to my methods of production, distribution, how I engage with my customers or the things around me? This is all changing in real time and it's happening a lot faster than it ever did before.

So the challenge for innovators and creators is to be aware of this rapidly evolving ecosystem that's all around them. The analogy of skating to where the puck is going to be has never been harder and it's never been more important.

What Does 5G Change for Users?

Listen in as Joshua Ness addresses the common question of what practical benefits 5G offers beyond faster movie downloads. As we push the boundaries of what's possible, the emergence of 5G is positioned as a pivotal development to unlock new and exciting capabilities for a connected society.

People sometimes will hold up their phone and they'll say, “I have 5G, but what is it really doing for me?” And an answer that the industry likes to give is that, well, you can download a movie so much faster than you used to be able to, which I think is a horrible example because when's the last time you downloaded a movie to your phone? The answer is almost never. It's like, yeah, when you're about to have an expectation of no connectivity whatsoever, or very limited connectivity, which you have to pay for, that's when you download things to your phone – when you're not going to be connected. But we are connected. We're a connected society, and we rely on advances in connectivity to help us do things that we didn't necessarily know that we had to do before.

No one knew they wanted ride sharing. No one knew they wanted things like document and real-time collaboration. No one knew they wanted a lot of the things that 4G brought with it. And so, right now, we're at this place where 4G is kind of, I don't wanna say maxed out, but efficient and where it's not efficient, we're kind of okay with it, right? If we have to wait for Instagram to load for half a second? Sure. Sometimes if we're being impatient, it bothers us, but it's fine. If we're in a self-driving car that's moving 90 miles an hour and wants to change lanes and it takes a couple of seconds to buffer, we're okay with that…are we? No, we're not. 

There are things that we don't know that we want to do yet, or that we think we might want to do. Something like advanced connectivity like 5G [is] really gonna become crucial.

5G’s Role in Closing the Digital Divide

In this minisode, Joshua Ness discusses leveraging advanced connectivity, particularly 5G, to bridge the digital divide. Strategies involve targeted 5G deployments, ensuring equitable access to underrepresented areas such as educational institutions, museums, rural areas and schools.

How can advanced connectivity, like 5G, address the digital divide in a positive way without actually making it worse? There's a couple of ways. 

One is that we can target 5G deployments and, as an industry, we can make sure that underrepresented areas like schools or other learning facilities like museums can have dedicated access to these technologies so that those students and those learners can begin experiencing the world in new ways. They can see what it's like to go inside of a cell. They can see what it's like to be on the inside of a robot. They can see what it's like to create galaxies and solar systems using mixed reality, AR and VR. They can communicate with people around the world and they can collaborate with them. 

And then in rural areas, advanced connectivity like 5G, it's really gonna become crucial and people are gonna wonder what they did without it.

Faster Emergency Services with Network Slicing

Did you know that 5G has the ability to allocate dedicated slices of bandwidth in the airwaves and network for various specific uses? Joshua Ness explains this technology and its potential to greatly benefit first responders by ensuring reliable connectivity, and its ability to open opportunities for tailored connectivity solutions across sectors like defense, gaming, and consumer applications, thus optimizing performance and user experiences.

One of the cool things about 5G is that both in the airwaves and in the network, dedicated slices of bandwidth can be allocated for certain types of uses, naturally. Some uses come to mind. A big one is first responders. The idea that people responding to emergencies don't wanna worry about connectivity in a densely populated area. The last thing that they wanna be worried about is whether or not some of their new technologies that they are using to coordinate and save lives, whether they're gonna lose connectivity. Well, 5G begins to solve that problem, both with its capabilities of accommodating many, many more users in a given area, but also in the fact that the network itself can be divided and allocated into the ways that make the most sense. So people like first responders, other types of maybe defense applications, maybe some for gaming, some for non-critical consumer functions. Let's just say that they might be able to have their own slice to where they're not interfering with other more critical functions. 

And so, we're starting to see this come into play in enterprise, where they're using different variations of those frequency bands that we talked about, the low, the mid, and the high. And when combining that with network slicing and then layering in edge compute functions, it really provides a whole host of options for organizations and application providers to bring new experiences and new value to their customers.

The End of the Cell Phone as We Know It

Challenging our conventional understanding of phones and their limitations, Joshua Ness questions how we truly interact with these devices - looking at them, listening, talking, touching - and suggests breaking down these components for a more dynamic experience. Watch this video of Ness exploring emerging technologies like head-mounted displays for augmented and virtual reality and emphasizing the convergence of connectivity, devices, and applications.

We're still calling it a phone. When's the last time you held it up to your face and talked into it? 

Well, how do we actually use it? What type of senses are involved? We look at it. We listen to it. We talk to it sometimes. Okay…we touch it. We feel its haptics; all of this in one convenient little package that has severe limitations. 

When you really think about it, what if we broke that apart? What if we deconstructed that? The industry's already starting to. We see head-mounted displays or HMDs that offer new experiences like virtual reality in the metaverse or augmented reality, which in its simplest forms are your Instagram filters, your [Snapchat] filters, TikTok filters. That's AR. Once I see that, I want more. And so is that a question of connectivity? Is it a question of the device? Is it a question of the application? I think it's all three. 

Connectivity is there. [The] question is will the device, will the application, will they catch up? They will, and they're starting to, but people don't necessarily like change. Businesses look at change and they look at it from a numbers perspective. How much money is this gonna save me? How much more money am I gonna make if I make these investments, if I make these changes, if I do the uncomfortable thing. People work differently.

Expert insights

5G, with its ultra reliability and its low latency and its high bandwidth allows businesses and organizations to really begin exploring how to maximize efficiencies; how to reduce costs, how to not necessarily replace workers, but allow them to do different things.

Joshua Ness

Emerging Technology Director, Formerly Verizon 5G Labs


How will 5G affect the job market?

read more

The advent of 5G connectivity has ushered in a new era of possibilities, yet questions about its potential impact on the job market have surfaced.

When broken down, the progression of telecommunication generations from 1G to 5G is like building a house. 1G was the single story house. 2G added a second story. 3G put in a garage. 4G was the new gazebo in the backyard. However, 5G bulldozed the entire house and replaced it with a new one. 

While previous generations added incremental improvements, 5G symbolizes a complete reconstruction of the network, bringing ultra reliability, low latency and high bandwidth. However, this leap raises concerns about job displacement in the wake of automation and advanced capabilities.

With each technological revolution, it’s natural for certain job functions to be  rendered obsolete while others rise and emerge. For example, a few years ago, the shift to cloud computing redefined the Information Technology (IT) landscape, creating new roles while rendering others obsolest. IT’s job function  was not destroyed, it only changed. Similarly, the introduction of automation and artificial intelligence with 5G technology might reshape manufacturing industries, leading to job changes rather than complete elimination.

It’s important to recognize that any technological innovation sparks a ripple effect throughout its ecosystem. As 5G and related technologies reshapes industries, suppliers, partners, competitors and customers all seek to adapt. Therefore, the challenge for innovators is not just to anticipate where the future is headed, but to remain agile and responsive within a rapidly evolving landscape.

In conclusion, while 5G's transformative potential could reshape job roles and functions, history and past technological revolutions suggest that rather than eradicating jobs outright, it will likely trigger a transition towards new opportunities. As industries adapt to the possibilities enabled by 5G, the key lies in embracing change and creatively navigating the evolving employment landscape.


What is 5G’s role in helping bridge the digital divide?

read more

In the quest for a more inclusive and connected digital landscape, 5G has emerged as a promising solution to bridging the digital divide. 

There are two pivotal avenues through which 5G is making strides. Firstly, the strategic deployment of 5G networks aims to reach underserved areas. This ensures that key (like schools, universities or museums) receive dedicated access to cutting-edge connectivity. This approach empowers students and learners,  especially those who have historically lacked access to advanced technologies. By granting them the ability to immerse themselves in life-changing experiences, 5G is able to revolutionize education and engagement. Even providing the ability to dive into the microscopic world of cells or global collaboration through mixed reality, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Secondly, the impact of 5G is poised to extend its reach into rural regions. As these areas have often faced challenges in accessing high-speed internet, 5G's arrival is expected to be transformative. With its high range of frequencies and efficiency, 5G is set to equip rural communities with improved communication, access to online resources and economic opportunities previously out of reach.

5G's role in closing the digital divide is not just about connectivity;5G is paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive digital future.


What are the potential effects of 5G on consumers?

read more

As 5G technology takes the spotlight, many wonder what tangible differences it will make in their daily lives beyond the superficial promise of faster movie downloads. Our current reliance on 4G might seem sufficient, but 5G's impact will be more profound than we anticipate.

Previous technological leaps, like ride-sharing and real-time collaboration, unveiled new levels of convenience we didn't know we needed. We often overlook our current limitations, accepting minor inconveniences, like a brief Instagram loading delay. However, when we consider scenarios involving self-driving cars or other mission critical operations, connectivity lapses become unacceptable.

In essence, 5G changes the day-to-day person's reality by transcending the boundaries of current technology. It offers a canvas for innovators to create solutions to challenges we might not even know exist yet, while promising to reshape our routines and elevate our expectations of what connectivity can truly achieve.

Know What’s on the Horizon

Subscribe to receive updates, video announcements, and more.