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Ericsson program envisages 5G beyond smartphones

Ericsson launches ‘5G Sweden’ that brings together the collaboration of industry and four universities in Sweden

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Picture an excavator at a convention center in the Spanish city of Barcelona performing routine work, all under the control of an operator based in a different location. Though seperated by distance, and driverless, the machine carries out its program with insignificant delay.

Picture, again, a traffic warning system that can alert drivers to potential hazards on the road. As well as provide drivers a means of evading danger, information from the system, or “Connected Traffic Cloud,” could also help road traffic authorities ease congestion and, more importantly, save lives.

The technologies are just some by Swedish company Ericsson that were showcased on Monday at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. They provide a glimpse of how the world might look when 5G, the next generation of mobile telecommunications technology, is unrolled.

Presentation at MWC 2015. (Dina al-Shibeeb/Al Arabiya)
Presentation at MWC 2015. (Dina al-Shibeeb/Al Arabiya)

The telecommunications technology, an upgrade from the present 4G that provides speeds of up to 1 Gbps, would serve as part of what Ericsson has coined the “Networked Society,” a future ecosystem in which widespread Internet connectivity is the driving force for change for individuals and communities.

As part of its efforts to reach its envisaged dream of a “Networked Society” or “Smart Cities,” Ericsson has launched the “5G Sweden,” a research program that brings together the collaboration of industry and four universities in the Scandinavian country.

“If you look at 5G beyond smartphones and mobile phones, it will include different industries. It can be energy, manufacturing or transportation,” Jan Holler, principal researcher at Ericsson, told Al Arabiya News in Barcelona.

“So the program we created, ‘5G Sweden,’ actually works across with academia, and Ericsson is leading this and we are working with Volvo,” he added.

Volvo Construction Equipment, which manufactures trucks and construction equipment, alongside Scania are among the partners of Ericsson’s research program.

Volvo Cars provided one of its vehicles to demonstrate the capabilities of Ericsson’s “Connected Traffic Cloud” here at the Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest telecoms trade fair.

“5G is targeting all kinds of content, be it dishwashers at home, bicycles, everything will be interconnected,” Holler, who is specialized in the “Internet of Things,” said, also citing the examples of the digger and the cloud system for vehicles.

“Where the user is not the human, this is typically the new cases with 5G,” he explained.

Asked to comment on 5G and its potential, he said: “it is the communication infrastructure for the ‘Networked Society,’ connecting not only people, but connecting businesses industries and society in general.”

As well as working toward an interconnected world, Ericsson is also researching ways to reduce the energy footprint of its technology.

“What is happening today, it is the infrastructure and our system sends something about every millisecond, and we believe that we should only send something maybe every 100 milliseconds,” Ylva Jading, who is master researcher of energy performance at Ericsson, told Al Arabiya News.

Jading is currently researching ultra-lean transmission and massive beam forming for reduced energy usage for the signals exchanged between smartphones and networks.

“We need to reduce energy consumption with sleep modes when we don’t’ have a lot of load, it is ok to consume energy when we have a lot of work to do,” she said.

“But when we don’t have a lot of work we should be in sleep mode. And that is the key thing that we want to do,” she added.