HPE Blog, UK & Ireland

5G: Build it, but will they come? // Technology Untangled

5G has got a bit of marketing problem. Depending on who you ask, it's either a revolution happening in the telecommunications space or a load of hot air!

Networking kit has never been so divisive, whether it's fear-mongering vandals tearing down cell towers, rumours about governmental espionage, or skepticism about the astronomical costs of implementation. So, is 5G worth the hassle?

Today, host Michael Bird is joined by HPE Chief Technologists Chris Dando, a fervent 5G evangelist, and skeptic Matt Armstrong-Barnes. We discover the true value of super-fast data transfer from New York Times Creative Technologist Jimmy Chion. Plus, Nokia's Leslie Shannon drops some truth bombs about the real potential of those much-maligned millimetre waves.

Need for speed:

5G evangelists are more than happy to rattle off a list of benefits: super-fast data transfer, low latency, big bandwidth. Sounds great for gamers but... why should the average person care?

In the past, media organisations have pushed the boundaries of telecommunications capabilities. We speak to Jimmy Chion, Creative Technologist at the New York Times, to hear about their experiments with high-speed data for photojournalists.

But in consumer-land, as Matt Armstrong-Barnes explains, we're pretty happy as we are. And if consumers aren't willing to pay for that speed, who will?

The new generation network: upgrade or sea change?

For most people, cellular networks are like electricity. You turn it on your phone, and it just works. 5G can get pretty complicated pretty quickly, and comparing it to previous generations is a misstep. This is totally different tech. But... what's it going to cost us?

We hear from Matt Armstrong-Barnes about the high price of connectivity, Chris Dando explains why the 4G network is busting at the seams, and Leslie Shannon brings us her vision of our connected future.

Doing the math: do the use cases stack up?

A whistle-stop tour through some of 5G's hotly debated use cases, from remote surgery to autonomous driving, brings us to one certain conclusion: one single use case doesn't justify the hype around this tech. So, what's the real value?

For Chris Dando, the possibility lies in the interconnection of existing technologies, but is it enough to justify the huge spend in getting this network off the ground?

Key takeaways:

  • 5G isn't really about the consumer. To understand the benefits of 5G, the conversation needs to progress beyond download speeds.
  • Value comes from stacking use cases. The communication of 5G has focused on the ultra-niche, leaving organisations understandably perplexed.
  • Avoid technology for technologies sake. If there's a solid use case for 5G, let your project outcome find it, not the other way around.

Links and Resources:

The WIRED Guide to 5G | WIRED

5G Security, Openness and Trust Considerations | HPE

New York Times 5G Journalism Lab

The Birth of the Digital Self | Leslie Shannon

The Great 5G Conspiracy | The Atlantic

Leslie Shannon | Twitter

Jimmy Chion | Twitter

Matt-Armstrong Barnes | LinkedIn

Chris Dando | LinkedIn

Michael Bird
Hewlett Packard Enterprise


Follow me on Twitter: @miclbrd
About the Author


I'm a Digital Marketing Manager for UK and Ireland at HPE and I've been working in the IT industry for nearly 10 years. I'm fascinated by technology and the impact it has on organisations and us as individuals.

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