The future has its name: 5G; The future of connected technologies and 5G was among the main topics of this year's Digitalk conference

09 July

It was not long time ago when all major telecoms in Bulgaria boasted their new 4G network, allowing high speeds of mobile internet in the country. While we are still enjoying these fast services, however, the time comes to a global level for the next generation - 5G, which in a few years should bring not just faster speeds but also a much higher level of connecting everything around us - from phones to kitchen appliances. The 5G discussion came out again this month after US authorities halted the $ 117 billion transaction between Broadcom and Qualcomm. The reason: buying Qualcomm has been a matter of national security, as passing the company in foreign hands means the US will lose one of its biggest trumps in the race for a working 5G network. Technology development was among the key themes on the Digitalk 2018 conference, organized by Capital and the LAUNCHub Ventures and NEVEQ funds, held on May 31 and June 1 at the Sofia Event Center.


What is 5G
So-called 5G networks are still in their test phase and will rely on dense signals through smaller antennas and cloud solutions to deliver 50 to 100 times faster speeds than today's 4G networks. So 5G promises to be paramount to building the infrastructure of a number of industries. According to data from the GSMA Worldwide Trading Group by 2025 1.2 billion people will have access to 5G networks. Moving towards these solutions promises not only changes in mobile services offered to consumers but also to build the grounds for the creation of new business models as well as to cause possible problems for countries and industries that fail to invest smartly during the transition period.

Unlike previous technology developments - 2G in the early 1990s, 3G in the early millennium and 4G less than a decade ago - the new 5G network standards will not only lead to faster transfer rates but also will allow the connection of any gadgets, including cars, electrical appliances and big agricultural machines.

In a nutshell, 5G should be a revolution not only for consumer services but also for entire industries, which is why the US is so cautious about trying to break up with some of the biggest players in the industry. According to the country's Foreign Investment Committee, Broadcom's acquisition of Qualcomm will give Chinese network equipment manufacturers a huge advantage over US.

The introduction of 5G services will also open many mid-markets to more hardware, software, and semiconductors players. Most of them work in Asia, which is a problem for the desire of the US Silicon Valley to continue its domination in the the technology sector.

Who are the big players?
There is a long way ahead of the technology sector before all of these super-fast internet dreams come true tol allow high quality movies to be downloaded in seconds, and the over-connection of everything that (perhaps) will allow the user to call the toaster to toast bread.

First of all, mobile operators will have to buy and deploy new equipment specifically made for 5G networks. Such hardware is currently being tested and will be made by some major players like Chinese Huawei, Swedish Ericsson and Finnish Nokia. Mobile phones' producers will start making their smartphones with built-in 5G radio antennas allowing connectiveness.

In addition to networking companies, smartphone chip manufacturers also play a major role. That's where Qualcomm plays, which is one of the most important American hardware masons. Most other chip manufacturers are in Asia - the Taiwanese MediaTek, as well as Samsung and Huawei (through their HiSilicon) that produce chips for both their own handsets and competitors for the end users' market.

Undoubtedly, China's Huawei is the best in the 5G networks and is also the major manufacturer of network telecom equipment, being the third-largest player on the smartphone market - producing its own chips. Huawei, however, is not being watched in goodwill by the US authorities, as the reason for this is the company's unclear relationship with the Chinese government.

Let's dream: what will 5G bring us
It is still unclear what the 5G network might be, but for now it is obvious that internet speeds will rise. Recently, the Arabic telecom Etisalat managed to reach 70 Gbps through its 5G network. For comparison, this speed is over 1500 faster than the average for Singapore - the country with the fastest internet network at the moment.

The delay will also drop several times, as the latency in the network will be downgraded from 25 to 40 milliseconds nowadays to about 1 millisecond. This will allow the management of industrial robots and autonomous cars and other devices.

What is the introduction of 5G around the world?
All big US telecoms will start testing 5G services this year, though certainly not in the finished version of the technology. The problem although the standard network is ready this year, the devices that can benefit fairly well from the network will be available in the market next year. In the UK this month will be the first bid for the spectrum, with all major British players taking part - EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. Technology is also one of China's greatest interests. The GSMA survey, according to which 1.2 billion people on the planet will have access to the network in 2025, also indicates that a quarter of this figure will be China's citizens. Europe, the home of the giants Nokia and Ericsson, is also in the race. According to European Commissioner Günther Oettinger 5G will be the "backbone of the digital economy and society around the world".