MWC Session Recap: 5G’s Past, Present & Future

In the Day 2 session titled “New Frontier of Partnerships,” the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel, reflected on how far 5G connectivity has come. A few years ago, only a handful of the world’s largest cities had deployed 5G; now, 5G networks are up and running in 112 countries, with more than 95,000 global deployments.

But what’s next for 5G? In the session, speakers from the Wall Street Journal, the FCC and Qualcomm shared why 5G connectivity is now more important than ever before—and where they see it going in the future.

5G, Yesterday and Today

In her opening remarks, Rosenworcel acknowledged the world that 5G launched in is no longer the world we live in.

“The last three years have been unlike anything seen before and as a global community I’m proud to say that we have come a long way in that time,” said Rosenworcel.

And a long way it’s been indeed—with 5G’s launch, there’s now more competition in the broadband market, and more households are changing how they get online. Rosenworcel listed various applications of the technology already being used, whether it was healthcare professionals exploring new medical technologies leveraging 5G connections, or new opportunities for smart grids to be more energy-efficient.

“These connections are going to transform so much in our day-to-day lives,” said Rosenworcel. “But the way I see it, we are only beginning to scratch the surface of next-generation wireless potential.”

For her part, the WSJ’s Mascall shared how the publication’s journalists rely on seamless data connections to upload files in real time and provide data-driven decisions from an editorial perspective, for the benefit of readers and businesses alike.

“We have had an audience-first approach for quite some time now, to make our journalism available wherever and however our audience would like to consume it,” said Mascall. “Our audience relies on those insights, and the news and the information that we provide to make decisions for their lives and professional lives.”

5G Tomorrow

Even though an estimated 500 million global mobile subscribers are connecting to 5G networks, there are still many more people and companies that can connect to the network, and other use cases to explore. The Journal’s Mascall touched on the applications of other connectivity and digital technologies for their readership and advertisers, including:

  • Drones and autonomous vehicles for paper delivery
  • Artificial intelligence to help write press releases so journalists can focus on breaking news
  • Augmented and virtual reality platforms for live journalism

When considering what’s next for 5G, the FCC’s Rosenworcel envisions a wireless future defined by invention, innovation and imagination. Invention and innovation will both require more spectrum to power more innovative opportunities—and a little ingenuity.

“In this future, we face a really hard truth: greenfield spectrum that is open and cleared for use will not be simple or easy to find,” said Rosenworcel. “We’re going to have to invest in new technologies to promote efficiency and use a range of spectrum policy tools…to ensure continued access to our airwaves.”

But even with changes happening now, Rosenworcel was already imagining what’s ahead.

“We have to start planning for what I like to think of as the next, next generation of wireless technology,” she said, referring to 6G and the need to harmonize efforts around the world.

But, before 6G, Qualcomm’s CEO Cristiano Amon shared how he imagines 5G might shape up in the future, citing various applications like better communications on video apps, connected vehicles and the as-yet-to-be-seen metaverse.

“We’ve been investing in fundamental R&D to create devices that you can wear and connect the physical world and the digital world,” said Amon of the metaverse, predicting that someday, connected glasses could replace smartphones.

Will that vision of the 5G future come to life? We’ll have to wait and see.

Check out CSG’s latest coverage of MWC on our event site, and stay tuned for more coverage throughout the week.