The wireless industry's annual conference gets underway in Barcelona with 85,000 executives taking part and numerous new smartphones and watches being launched. As Ivor Bennett reports from the show the race for 5G is one of the key themes.
Welcome to the future. A place where you can stream videos as holograms from your phone. HD movies will take a matter of seconds to download. While data speeds reach the giddy heights of 13 Gigabytes per second. For now 5G is a work in progress. But firms like Nokia Networks are hoping to make it a reality by 2020. Head of Research Lauri Oksanen. SOUNDBITE (English) LAURI OKSANEN, HEAD OF RESEARCH, NOKIA NETWORKS, SAYING: "We can easily do let's say 10 times faster than 4G or even 100 times faster than 4G. but this is exactly one of the questions we need to discuss and agree. What is the target setting so that we are shooting at the same goal?" 5G is one of the main themes at this year's Mobile World Congress. and the battle for early leadership is well underway. China's Huawei is investing 600 million dollars into the technology. devoting 9 separate research centres, and 500 staff. Marketing director Daisy Chu. SOUNDBITE (English) DAISY CHU, 5G MARKETING DIRECTOR, HUAWEI, SAYING: "5G is the future. 5G is the future of wireless and we believe that if we lose the market for 5G, we will lose everything." Much of the technology is already there Including these prototype receivers. The challenge is the spectrum. 3G and 4G have meant the lower frequency radio waves are too cluttered. And the industry has to agree on a standard for using the higher frequencies. When it does, it won't just be people who are connected, but things... SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "5G will support what's known as the internet of things. Devices like this robotic arm for example that have a wireless connection. The commands I send it travel via the cloud, so while that stays on the factory floor, I can be as far away as South Africa or even New Zealand and still tell it what to do." Some forecast 50 billion connected devices by 2020, others say 100. Ranging from cars and toothbrushes, to houses and even cities. It's not just speed that 5G offers, but also lower latency Meaning the delay between command and action is just 1 millisecond. Kester Mann is principal analyst at CCS Insight. SOUNDBITE (English) KESTER MANN, PRINCIPAL ANALYST, CCS INSIGHT, SAYING: "We're looking at sectors such as healthcare, retail, transport, energy. So to give you an example, could a surgeon on one part of the world diagnose a disease for a patient on the other? or even perform remote surgery? This kind of tactile internet is potentially something that 5G could help us solve." If that's going to happen in the next 5 years one has to wonder what will happen beyond that. 6G is already being mooted for 2040.