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Why 5G is not just another G

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By JEAN PIERRE BRULARD, senior vice president and general manager at VMware EMEA.

2019 has so far been the year of 5G. From 5G enabled folding phones, to surgery conducted on a patient miles away by doctors at Mobile World Congress, early super-fast network rollouts in the US, to the tactile internet and the Internet of Things, and, of course, robots – it seems there isn’t a conversation that doesn’t have a 5G angle to it.

For telecoms operators or communication service providers (CSPs), it’s a time bursting with opportunity – from upgrading capacity to delivering new services, content and interactions in ways previously simply not possible. Using 5G to enable the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing, they now have an amazing opportunity that was unimaginable just a couple of years ago.

But it means 5G is at a massive inflection point.  Planning decisions made today will have far reaching financial and operational ramifications for CSPs, from being able to beat competitors to market with new value-added services, to significantly improving the performance and operational efficiencies of their networks.

Yet to think of it as only a telecoms opportunity is to miss the point. Any organisation in any sector that uses networks (in short, everyone) should be planning for the 5G rollout and thinking about how they can use it to achieve their business goals.

It doesn’t matter if they’re operating in retail, logistics, in a city, in a rural environment, in the public or private sector; 5G promises huge opportunities to deliver new services and applications, increase automation and the possibilities this brings, to aiding businesses to engage with customers in ways never previously imagined.

That’s not to say that it’s all plain sailing – as Åsa Tamsons, the head of new businesses at Ericsson, said in an interview with CNN, many still view 5G as just “another network.” It’s an attitude which could make it harder initially for some organisations to make the case for the up-front investment required. Enterprises will need to work to convince both internal and external stakeholders that the costs are justified.

One network, a world of opportunity

So, to answer the question, how is it not just another G? Put simply, 5G delivers much faster speeds, far lower latency and significantly higher density than 4G. 

If we want to realise the potential of the likes of Internet of Things-enabled services, robotics, autonomous vehicles, smarter cities and utility services and break throughs in telemedicine, then each of these elements need to be in play. What, however, do they actually mean?

Speed is relatively straight forward. The 5G example often used is being able to download a high definition film in ten seconds, compared to at best about twenty minutes currently (depending on local broadband services).

Latency is slightly different, reflecting the time required for data to travel between two points. We are in fact talking less than a millisecond delay, which becomes significant for surgery, for example, and combined with speed is also a factor for many gamers who might want to pay for this type of fast, low latency service.

Density becomes significant with the sheer number of devices connected to a network at any one time. We are already in a world where there are more than 23 billion connected devices and growing, with greater mobility and IoT use cases. We’ve all been in situations where speeds drop dramatically as everyone logs in, and as we become increasingly connected, we need networks that can cater for significantly more devices than ever before.

In each of these instances, 5G has the potential to dramatically improve on the performance of existing 4G networks. This can then be used to deliver new services and applications, exactly the level of connectivity the digital world requires.

It could be a hospital serving an area several hundred miles square. As we saw at MWC, a surgeon might use a high performance, high reliability 5G network to perform critical surgery via robotics on a patient in a clinic elsewhere. 5G introduces a concept called network slicing A network slice has technical characteristics important for delivering a particular services. In this case, a network slice could be used to deliver a service with low latency to ensure that actions are taken in real time and without delay, high throughput to ensure quality high-definition images and sound for the surgeon, and high reliability to ensure the service is available for the duration of the operation and that performance is not impacted by other mobile users.

Or take retail. Augmented and virtual realities have long been touted as a way to arrest some of the challenges the sector faces – with 5G’s low latency, they can become mainstream offerings, rather than niche innovations, by easily allowing customers to view purchases in local environments or on themselves.

We’ve all heard seemingly fanciable ideas of deliveries by drones, conjuring images of swarms of pilotless objects floating around. With 5G it becomes much more than just an unnerving vision. With high density, networks will be able to support huge numbers of aerial vehicles while enabling remote operators to coordinate movements and avoid collisions along the way. The knock-on benefits would mean less congestion, particularly in urban areas, as well as reaching far-flung locations previously lacking the infrastructure to support all deliveries.

To deliver all this is going to require a significant amount of investment in network infrastructure. For CSPs, it is a major undertaking, which is why it is likely that rather than a pure 5G network, the majority of people will see a blended approach, where 4G is available to deliver basic services, and 5G introduced for specific tasks. It is therefore critical to have what’s known as the telco cloud. This is software-defined technology that supports both current 4G and lays the ground work for 5G, something much prized by operators like Vodafone. “The ability to be flexible and agile as we continue to automate our network operations and management could only be achieved through a software-defined infrastructure,” said Johan Wibergh, the group’s chief technology officer. “We have been pleased with the accelerated time-to-market and associated economic benefits of our transition to NFV and, increasingly, a telco cloud infrastructure.” 

With 5G, enterprises can access the levels and speeds of connectivity they need to take advantage of the game changing technologies such as IoT, edge computing and AI that are going to shape the next stage of the digital revolution. Combined with this software-defined infrastructure, more in tune with its specifications and aspirations, 5G has the power to transform the operations and business models of established organisations beyond all recognition.

Capitalising to thrive

We haven’t even begun to realise what the possibilities of 5G are yet. So much needs to happen before we see full adoption, yet enterprises must start thinking now about how they can harness the power of these new networks for their own competitiveness. Simply thinking about it as another G risks not being prepared when it does come along and missing out on the huge opportunities available.

5G is the network and foundation which makes the promises of many other new technologies a reality – any organisation that fails to capitalise on that will struggle to survive in the digital world.

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Jaguar drives dictionary definition

Jaguar is calling for the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries to update their online definition of the word ‘car’

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Jaguar is spearheading a campaign for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Oxford Dictionaries (OxfordDictionaries.com) to change their official online definitions of the word ‘car’.

The I-PACE, Jaguar’s all-electric performance SUV, is the 2019 World Car of the Year and European Car of the Year. However, strictly speaking, the zero-emission vehicle isn’t defined as a car.

The OED, the principal historical dictionary of the English language, defines a ‘car’ in its online dictionary as: ‘a road vehicle powered by a motor (usually an internal combustion engine) designed to carry a driver and a small number of passengers, and usually having two front and two rear wheels, esp. for private, commercial, or leisure use’.

Whereas the current definition of a ‘car’ on Oxford Dictionaries.com, a collection of dictionary websites produced by Oxford University Press (OUP), the publishing house of the University of Oxford, is: ‘A road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.’

To remedy the situation, Jaguar has submitted a formal application to the OED and OxfordDictionaries.com to have the definitions updated to include additional powertrains, including electric vehicles (EV).

David Browne, head of Jaguar Land Rover’s naming committee, said: “A lot of time and thought is put into the name of any new vehicle or technology to ensure it is consumer friendly, so it’s surprising to see that the definition of the car is a little outdated. We are therefore inviting the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionaries to update its online classification to reflect the shift from traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) towards more sustainable powertrains.”

The Oxford English Dictionary is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words – past and present – from across the English-speaking world.

Jaguar unveiled the I-PACE, its first all-electric vehicle, last year to deliver sustainable sports car performance, next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) technology and five-seat SUV practicality.

Featuring a state-of-the-art 90kWh lithium-ion battery, two Jaguar-designed motors and a bespoke aluminium structure, the I-PACE is capable of 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds and a range of up to 470km (WLTP).

While both the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries review the application, Jaguar is encouraging people to get behind the campaign by asking how the word ‘car’ should be defined. Contact Jaguar on TwitterFacebook and Instagram using #RedefineTheCar with your thoughts.

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How Internet blocks visually impaired

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Picture: Amelie-Benoist / Getty Images

A pervasive “digital divide” inhibits blind people from accessing the Internet, according to a study conducted by Nucleus Research for Deque Systems, an accessibility software company specialising in digital equality. This results in visits to websites being abandoned, further resulting in a missed market opportunity for the websites in question.

The study, which conducted in-depth interviews with 73 U.S. adults who are blind or have severe visual impairments, revealed that two-thirds of the Internet transactions initiated by people with vision impairments end in abandonment because the websites they visit aren’t accessible enough. Ninety percent of those surveyed said they regularly call a site’s customer service to report inaccessibility and have no choice but to visit another, more accessible site to make the transaction.

The Nucleus study also scanned hundreds of websites in the e-commerce, news and information and government categories and found that 70 percent had certain “critical blockers” that rendered them inaccessible to visually impaired users.

“Besides the moral dilemma and legal risk, businesses with inaccessible websites are missing a huge revenue opportunity by ignoring an untapped market,” says Preety Kumar, CEO of Deque Systems. “Among internet retailers specifically, two-thirds of the top ten online retailers had serious accessibility issues, meaning they are leaving $6.9 billion in potential North American e-commerce revenues on the table.”

Web accessibility refers to the ability of people with disabilities to independently gather information, complete transactions, or communicate on the Internet. Most visually impaired Internet users rely on assistive technologies like screen readers or screen magnifiers to render sites perceivable and operable. However, these assistive technologies require that websites be built with accessibility in mind and optimized to interface with assistive technology, in order to convey information in an accurate and understandable manner.

Critical accessibility blockers can vary across industries. In e-commerce, problems include issues like missing form and button labels (thereby making forms or the “checkout” button invisible without context). Amazon, Best Buy and Target were found to be accessibility leaders in this space. Additionally, the study found:

  • Eight out of ten news sites had significant accessibility issues.
  • Seven out of ten blind persons reported being unable to access information and services through government websites, including Medicare’s site.
  • Fewer than one in three websites have clear contact information or instructions for blind persons to seek help if they encounter accessibility issues, meaning many have low levels of success in reporting and solving these problems.

“A focus on accessibility needs to be a core part of the website design and development process,” continues Kumar. “Considering accessibility as early as the conception phase, and proactively building and testing sites for accessibility as they move towards production, is significantly more effective than remediating it later, helping organizations save significant time and resources while avoiding unnecessary customer grievances.”

To download the report, visit: https://accessibility.deque.com/nucleus-accessibility-research-2019

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