5G is making its global debut at Olympics, and it’s wicked fast

5G is making its global debut at Olympics, and it's wicked fast thumbnail
By Sam Kim and Sohee Kim

The first to experience the future of wireless technology, well before most humans, will be South Korea’s wild boars. That’s because 5G, the fifth-generation wireless network, is making its worldwide debut at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The technology will be used to ward off the porcine pests who roam the mountainous region around the Games with fast-acting systems that shoot rays, spew gases and emit tiger roars.

That’s just the start of 5G — South Korea’s attempt to showcase the first-in-the-world commercial use of the technology that’s not scheduled to roll out globally until 2020. At the Games, shuttle buses run with no humans at the wheel, and 360-degree images in real time show competing figure skaters as they glide around the ice.

Fifth-generation wireless networks are designed to be wicked fast, about 100 times faster than 4G. At 10 gigabits a second, 5G can send a full-length high-definition movie in seconds. It also paves the way for the “internet of things,” where devices from refrigerators to traffic lights to dog collars can talk to each other.

The tech industry is counting on the new capabilities: 5G will be important for developing artificial intelligence, drones, self-driving vehicles, robots and other machines that transmit massive data in real time, said Sandra Rivera, Intel Corp.’s California-based senior vice president overseeing network platforms. In other words, if computers talk to each other like children in 4G now, they’ll soon speak like grown-ups in 5G.

“It really is, we call it, the era of machines,” Rivera said in an interview. “Machines are coming, and the 5G is a big enabler with that true convergence of computing and communications.”



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