The Gigabit Society: Towards the Massive Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G Technology by Gerry Byrne


1 Introduction


The GSMA World Mobility Conference took place in Barcelona, Spain in February 2016 with an attendance of some 90.000 to 100.000 delegates. GSMA has 800 members. As part of the associated keynote programme the CEO’s of some of the world leading companies participated and presented views under 12 conference keynote themes in 395 sessions over a 4 day period. This article relates only to Day 1 under the Keynote Titles: Keynote 1) Mobile is Everything; Keynote 2) Mobile is Disruption; Keynote 3) Mobile is Connected Living and Keynote 4) Mark Zuckerberg. The companies involved in these four Keynote Sessions included: AT&T, China Mobile, Ericsson, Facebook (Zuckerberg), Ford, GSMA, Huawei, INTEL, Paypal, Qualcomm, SK Telecom, Telefonica, Turkcell and Vodaphone.


One futuristic scenario presented was: “An ambulance pulls up beside you in the city and tells you to get in as you are about to have a heart attack”.


It is evident that no one can predict the full implications of the next wave of technological development under the banners of the “Massive Internet of Things, IoT” and “G5 Technology” – visionary extrapolation from todays scenario seems to be the best we can do. The implications of the input as presented by the CEO’s are far reaching.    


ZUCKERBERG (CEO, Facebook) in a 45 minute interview outlines a roadmap moving through the technologies from 2G (which was launched just 25 years ago) with voice and text to 3G with voice, text and photos to 4G with voice, text, photos and video to 5G with voice, text, photos, video and then most significantly - virtual reality, VR. Noting that the “Connectivity Report” was released today (Monday 23.2.2016) he commented that in a broad sense, 4G connected people whilst 5G will connect things.


KRZANICH (CEO INTEL) makes an interesting point that there are the “known unknowns” and then there are the “unknown unknowns”. As we progress into the Gigabit era is seem likely that many “unknown unknowns” will appear and entirely new businesses and business models will emerge which we cannot envisage today. Traditional industries such as for example the auto industry will undergo significant transformation (see FORD comments below).


In addition to the massive increase in projected data volumes, one of the most significant developments in relation to 5G lies in the capabilities provided by enhanced latency down to around 1 milli-second. Data security is the top level priority – big brother issues is an underlying theme. Global sustainability with challenging targets is a requirement. Finally in the background but fundamental to the business development is “mobile money” and the monetization strategies and processes operating in the background.


ALLIERTA (CEO, Telefonica) opened proceedings for the day by stating that digitalization will basically change everything. He quoted an interesting statistic that for a 10% increase in digitalization a 40% lift in GDP in countries would arise. Reporting on an exponential growth in data traffic he spoke about big data and digitalization forcing massive innovation in an era when there is extensive knowledge about customers and their preferences and behaviours. New engines for growth and models for value creation will emerge.


BING (Chairman, China Mobile) makes the interesting and increasingly relevant comment that Connectivity is like Oxygen – people cannot live without oxygen and increasingly cannot live without connectivity. He also notes that voice and messaging are in a state of rapid decline with a clear shift to digital services. He states that the scale of connectivity is growing exponentially.



2 Societal and Industrial Implications of 5G Technology - Significant and Widespread Transformation and Disruption


The mobile society continues to mature. We now have some 4.7 billion people connected on earth and this is projected to grow to 5.3 billion by 2020. The vision is emerging (and rapidly maturing) of the mobile industry connecting everybody and everything. The Internet of Things, IoT revolution is only beginning says COLAU (CEO Vodaphone) and the mobile industry is well positioned to deal with the new developments. In the new Gigibit Society we will have ultra high speeds, very low latency, ultra dense and highly secure networks. When companies digitize they can experience high ramp-up rates and instant scale.

The move from 4G to 5G involves significant technological development and interestingly it is anticipated that there will be a rapid acceleration towards 5G. Contrary to earlier predictions for a later roll out, much optimization exists regarding the arrival of G5 capability – it is stated that much of the 5G infrastructure will already be in place from 2018 and certainly by 2020.


COLAO reports on a New Zealand case study where the Police Force there enjoyed considerable savings in operations as a result of the big data implementation work.


The scale of connectivity is growing exponentially and the number of interconnected devices is projected to grow to 50 billion. When this number was put out a number of years ago it seemed to many to be unrealistic and indeed unimaginable. However, as we progress and witness the speed of development and then when put in the context of the rapidly growing number of people connected, the 50 billion number becomes more and more realistic. With such development, the role of the mobile operators is changing and is being redefined for the new data driven era.


Whilst every human will have a requirement for a (relatively) small number of devices, each machine and system (e.g. a flexible manufacturing cell or an advanced robot) will have a requirement for a much greater number of sensors.


The development is projected to be strongly disruptive by all CEO’s who spoke. In some (if not in many) cases the roll out will be heavily disruptive. It was stated that over 50% of the companies listed in Fortune 500 twenty years ago no longer exist today. COLAO comments that 70% of the youth will not want to work for companies who are behind the curve on digital innovation – an important insight not given much consideration to-date.


FIELDS (President and CEO, Ford) explains that the new Ford business model is to continue with excellence in automotive manufacture, but in addition is adding “mobility” as a significant new business area. Ford has concluded that the “mobility” part of the business will grow to be a significant income generator in the future. He notes that 73% of the EU population live in cities and that road congestion is on the rise. He sees transportation as being on the cusp of revolution.


Future customers must be engaged in a very different way to the past engagement models. Customer behaviour analysis shows up interesting facts such as the time a customer spends in a Ford dealership is only 4.5 hours per year compared with an average of 900 hours in the car.


FIELDS launches several new initiatives during his talk. The first is FORD SYNC 3. This includes an Applink which allows app developers contribute to SYNC 3 (in what appears to be a crowd innovation style activity). He also launches a second initiative: “Go Park” – a predictive parking system for parking place availability. He states that “Go Park” is available to everyone and not just to FORD customers. He opens up the channel of thought that in the 10 year scenario, autonomous vehicles will find their own parking locations in cities. To support the customer experience he informs the conference that a third initiative is FORD Guides – real people who can be easily contacted if customers have queries (the use of the term “Real People” is interesting here).


In launching the 4th initiative, FORD Pass, he talks of the mobile city for parking and new and emerging possibilities for incentivising customers with vouchers for McDonalds etc. Finally he also comments on the launch of the 5th initiative, FORD Hubs, with one located in London.


FORD is a very good example of significant transformation which is already happening and where optimization is progressing in monetising new services in areas not in their business plan up to last year. He comments that the transformation currently happening is unprecedented in the 113 year history of the Ford company.


In the move up the scale in driver assist to the fully autonomous vehicle, FIELDS commented on the scale “0” to “5” with “0” being the early stage of driver assist and “5” representing full autonomy. We are still relatively low on this scale, but will climb up rapidly as is evident from current developments in the auto industry. FORD is increasing its investment in engineering by a factor of three in order to ensure market share in driver assist and autonomous driving. Traffic-jam assist and fully active driver assist will be introduced in the next 3 years.     


Commenting on the beginning of the IoT [Internet of Things] era, COLAO (CEO VODAPHONE) refers to the positive effects on CO2 reduction. In addition, he states that 8% fewer car crashes will arise and that a 74% reduction in hospital admissions has been estimated. He also commented on the cost of roll out of 5G technology infrastructure and broadly mentioned a figure of US$19 billion. He concludes that 50% of the future careers will involve work that does not exist today. The term Gigabit Society (as used in the title of this article) was used by COLAU in his address.


BAKSAAS (Chairman GSMA) discussed the issue of the large number of passwords that people are confronted with today. Mobile Connect was launched last year with a target of 1 billion users. This number has now exceeded 2 billion. It seems that Mobile Connect is offering users a single sign on possibility with the use of a single password for multiple usage on different websites etc. Simplicity for customers with a single point of entry across a wide spectrum of services is the target.


BAKSAAS (GSMA) also raises the serious issue that some 40% of the developing world has no access to the internet. ZUCKERBERG (Facebook) also speaks of this issue and of projects running to address remote regions – e.g. a wide-span aircraft type system (wingspan as for the Boeing 747) but the weight of a car and with advanced laser technology on board.


Many of the speakers refer to the 17 UN sustainability goals and that they are at the forefront of priorities in the technological development.

CHOI (SK Telecom CTO) talks of the Robot with 360 degree cameras as being the killer application where widespread opportunities exist for the relief of critical tasks such as aspects of the work of firemen through highly reliable, low latency and high security systems. He comments on drone racing as an emerging new sport.


In Keynote Session 2 entitled “Mobile is Disruption” the CEO’s of AT&T, ERICSSON and INTEL debated the key issues.


KRZANICH (INTEL) shows a new low cost INTEL Chip (costing less than US$10) and having 6 axis capability, several accelerometers and an Artificial Intelligence [AI] Engine. This low cost, high performance sensor can be mounted on a wide range of devices and machines and is used to monitor system performance. KRZANICH give the example of a case study where the chip was mounted on a large number of snowboards globally. The chip can monitor “all the tricks”. The sensor, working in conjunction with real-time data can provide entirely new insights into the sport. For example he quotes details of snowboard landings mostly happening with decelerations of less than 15g. However examples arose where higher decelerations (>19g) led to snowboard breakages. New and important information will become available to designers of high performance products, equipment and machines.


VESTERBERG (ERICCSON) speaks of 6-7 billion mobile subscribers by 2021. He comments that industries will be transformed. He sees voice and MMS as being only represented at the noise level in the networks. 5G programmable networks with devices connected to the cloud opens up new use cases.

DE LA VEGA (CEO AT&T) outlines examples of disruption and transformation. He introduces a new project on the monitoring of container traffic around the world and shows the new sensing device which is solar operated. It has a kinetic energy component and has a battery life of 10 years. The data coming off the sensors provides entirely new knowledge and insights into the container traffic ecosystem. He comments that AT&T no longer sell connectivity but rather sells solutions. Their new business model is aimed at making it simple for the customer.


DE LA VEGA also speaks of a second example of a joint activity with ERICSSON on “Connected Water” sensors located in water reservoirs for cities which provide real-time water monitoring capabilities and opens up opportunities for city councils to operate more efficiently and make cost savings.


Many examples of advanced sensor applications are already evident today. The demise of some businesses running on traditional business models was highlighted e.g. the London Taxi disruption through UBER, accommodation disruption through AIRBNB and many more.


PING (CEO HUAWEI) makes the point that 99% of equipment is not yet connected. Uncertainties exist in relation to the new technology and also to the new business models. He raises the issue of how best to generate income from big data. He reports on a new project on container movement and the development of new container locks based on RFID and GPS technologies which allows customs and excise staff deal efficiently with their border control in a simplified and reliable manner.


SCHULMAN (President and CEO Paypal) points out that business and commerce are being fundamentally redefined. Mobile payments will change the face of commerce. 180 million people use the platform 27 times per year on average. Of the 5 million users on the platform 1.5 million are on mobile. There is a clear shift from online payments to mobile payments. In-app purchases are growing dramatically. The stated target of Paypal is – make it simple for the end user. Paypal and Vodaphone are working together. On the development of the “Omni-Wallet capabilities” Schulman refers to Contextual Commerce – allowing the consumer use and buy without leaving the context. He speaks of collaboration between Facebook-Uber and Paypal. He reports on the expansion of the consumer platform -- In summary he notes: the time is NOW for “Democratizing Money.”


ZUCKERBERG (Facebook) eloquently describes the opening up of a new world of VR, building on the unprecedented growth in video uploading and viewing (some 100 million videos currently being watched/day on Facebook). 5G Technology will be an enabler. It will also enable unimaginable advances in Artificial Intelligence capabilities and areas such as pattern recognition will have widespread implications across all sectors from medical to industrial engineering and beyond. VR has the potential to transform traditional educational and training programmes. He makes the point that interesting trends are showing up from the live cam usage on Facebook. Zuckerberg recently gave a 5 minute talk with live streaming and some 150.000 people tuned in.


In the background ZUCKERBERG is working on a personal project developing an Artificial Intelligence [AI] system to run his own home. His vision here is that he will speak to his house and it will do exactly what he wants it to do.


3 Trend Summary

  • 5G Latency target 1 milli-sec.

  • High bandwidth requirements with the move towards enhanced video and the virtual reality environment.


  • 5G Rollout - rapid advancement with skeletal infrastructure in 2018.


  • Regulatory policy aspect is vital – this will be well advanced by 2020.


  • “End to End” security of highest priority.


  • widespread disruption (positive but also partially negative) and transformation highly probable.

  • 50% of Fortune 500 companies listed 20 years ago no longer exist today.


  • companies who don’t get involved in the “digital revolution” will have challenges with their traditional business models – there appears to be no option but to “get involved”.


  • widespread opportunities exist in all sectors of society.

  • widespread application of sensors will provide new insights into the technical/engineering performance of products and systems and hence provide opportunities for enhanced design and manufacture.

  • system providers working to offer turnkey solutions to facilitate their client requirements.

  • Digitalization is multidisciplinary in nature and collaboration between the different skillsets is vital.

  • the value chain – embedding multiple sensors, data extraction, algorithm development, big data analytics, trend analysis, high speed real-time closed loop control with a cloud interface is strengthening.

  • Service providers want to make the customer experience as positive and as simple as possible. This can mean that the embedded complexity in the system rises.

  • General agreement that the healthcare sector will be the area where massive transformation and disruption will take place in the early phases of the 5G era.
  • Incremental development such as that which we have experienced in the transition from 3G to 4G will continue (e.g. parking in cities) but at a dramatically increased rate.


  • Challenges for each profession in coming to terms with the disruption to the core expertise.    


4 Conclusions


The comment of the Day (authors opinion) is: Connectivity is like Oxygen – people cannot live without oxygen and increasingly cannot live without connectivity. The implications of 5G and the “Massive Internet of Things” are truly far reaching. In parallel with the trends described above, rapid transformation in taking place in industries all over the world. Industry 4.0 refers to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Disruption to the more traditional industrial practices is inevitable. Successful businesses will marry their core know-how with the new business models – many of them being service centric models based on functionality. Many producers of physical systems such as robots seem likely to revamp their business models to a service provision rather than actually selling their hardware systems – i.e. from selling hardware to selling functionality. Within the overall operating societal and industrial environments, the 17 listed OECD sustainability goals will act as drivers in this new post 4G era.


The Boards of Directors of companies both MNC’s and SME’s need to undertake on-going technology monitoring to provide input to their continually developing innovation practices. In most cases they need to link to well informed international R&D organsiations such as Fraunhofer for support. Senior Management in companies and organisations face new and exciting challenges with investment in innovation and with R&D forming an increasingly critical aspect of their responsibilities for the development of their next generation products and services. We are shifting from “Data” to “Big Data” and from the “Internet of Things” to the “Massive Internet of Things”


Despite the transformations and paradigm shifts described above some things will not change. The customer/client retains centre stage position and the fundamental mission of the companies delivering services is to ensure simplicity and a high comfort level for the customer.


As a side issue – it is very interesting to experience first hand the logistics involved in running a conference of this scale (with between 90.000 and 100.000 participants). Without the associated mobile phone app (entitled “My MWC”) it would be extremely difficult to navigate the event.




5 About the Author

Gerry Byrne is a Professor and former Dean of Engineering at University College Dublin. He chairs the R&D Board of Anam Technologies Ltd. His own company “GB Innovation Ltd” is internationally active in R&D and Technology Roadmapping and Management with a specialization in engineering manufacturing design. He is a Senior Advisor to the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft Germany. Gerry Byrne can be contacted at: and/or 00353872429631 (mobile).

Gerry Byrne

Chairman R&D Board

Anam Technologies Ltd.


6 Acknowledgement – Anam
   Technologies Ltd.

The attendance by the Author was funded by Anam Technologies Ltd. Anam is the fastest growing, highly progressive, independent SMS Firewall and A2P (application to person) service provider in the world, filtering billions of messages for mobile operators in over 60 countries in the world.