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The Future Fast: 5G will change the world

The next generation of mobile connectivity will transform the world, said VMware’s Shekar Ayyar in a VMWorld keynote address. He tells ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK how and why.

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It was a bold statement. “5G is about to transform the world,” said VMware executive vice president Shekar Ayyar in a keynote address during the recent VMworld conference, held virtually for the first time.

The event introduced, also for the first time, a track dedicated to telco 5G because, said CEO Pat Gelsinger in his opening remarks, “service providers are at the intersection of so much right now”.

Ayyar, who is also VMware’s general manager for telco and edge cloud, spelled it out: “We knew 5G would change our world, but we didn’t predict how much it would be accelerated by these unexpected circumstances as service providers invest in 5G. We are at the dawn of a new era filled with promise, and opportunity.

“5G, supported by digital technologies, is about to transform the way we live, work, and play. 5G is providing communication service providers the chance to reinvent themselves, with new customer relationships, new partnerships, new business models and revenue and the opportunity to become a leading innovator in technologies of the future.”

After the keynote, we caught up with Shekar to drill down into just how and why 5G will change the world.

“Many catalysts are coming together, somewhat fortuitously. If you look at the combination of wireless and wireline technology, people are looking at fibre and wireless and spectrum all in the same way. There’s a lot of activity in terms of how centralised computing is now going to become much more distributed and towards the edge (of the network).

“If you look at the dis-aggregation of the communications network, we now have a transition where people can intersperse their own applications on top. On the device side, software-driven architectures are going to take simple SIM cards on phones and make it much more. You could potentially have like four carriers on your phone and you could switch between them on an hour-to-hour or minute-by-minute basis.”

This will make for a more dynamic and agile infrastructure, allowing tremendous innovation in what applications can be built and delivered on top of the mobile network. It will have an impact on video-conferencing, gaming, and numerous other enterprise and consumer applications that can benefit from rich bandwidth and low latency, such as industrial automation and artificial intelligence.

“This is all now a set of things that people know are going to get transformed and we have just begun the process. But, equally, there’s a whole bunch of things that are unknown.

“If I were to give you a platform and say, go create whatever you can, because you can now access the geolocation information of people in a particular geography, and you can combine that with information around what they are doing from the standpoint of security, and then the information that you have in terms of the priority of their use around different types of applications… the potential is immense.

“It could literally change the face of how people do their retail shopping; it could change the face of how people communicate with their doctors; how they are engaging with their co-workers.”

That may sound a lot like the language people use when they talk about digital transformation and how it is already changing the world. The question is, do the two go hand in hand? Does the one support each other, or are they separate trajectories that will coalesce, and have an even greater impact on the consumer and the workspace?

Watch the full interview here to get Shekar’s in-depth insight into the shape of the future: https://youtu.be/sDHfylAByAk

You can also listen to the interview as a podcast, on any of the following platforms:

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