CEDIA Roundtable: 5G Is Home Tech’s ‘Most Impactful Trend’ in 20 Years
5G may be a year away, but smart home dealers should begin prepping now for the next-gen cellular service, with its major implications for IoT, content delivery and mobility.
SAN DIEGO — “Hold onto your hats,” said CE Pro editor Jason Knott, introducing the 5G Roundtable at CEDIA Expo 2018. “I would venture to say that this will be the most valuable piece of information you receive while you’re at the show.”
With 5G’s impending role in everything from low-rate IoT to high-speed video, Knott refused to apologize for the session’s provocative title, “How to Prepare for the Pending 5G Network Disruption” – perhaps the conference equivalent of click bait.
After 24 minutes of very convincing discussion (view the roundtable below), however, Knott mused: “We’re talking about this 5G networking disruption, but not a lot of other people are talking about it.”
So why should integrators care about this seemingly irrelevant, way-off cellular service that “not a lot of other people are talking about?”
Frank Defilippis, the integrator’s advocate at Dish Network, says the satellite company has been gobbling up spectrum ($20 billion worth) for more than a decade “in preparation for getting into the wireless business.”
There’s “nothing but opportunity,” he says of the multiple use cases for 5G’s various bands – low-speed, long-distance for such applications as agricultural controls; short-range but super-fast for driverless cars or drone networks.
The radios are inexpensive, the network can be blazing fast, and batteries can work for a decade, Defilippis explains. Most importantly, integrators own the relationships that touch so many of the services enabled by 5G.
“Pay attention and get ready,” he advises.
Integrator Joe Whitaker of The Thoughtful Home calls 5G “the most impactful trend we have seen in probably 20 years.”
Today, we consider cellular service mostly for mobile phones, which is pretty much the only electronic system integrators don’t touch, Whitaker explains. But when 5G comes along, the wireless technology will grace anything with a chipset.
Considering 5G networks can support millions of devices simultaneously, says Whitaker, “It’s not just about your cell phone being directly connected to that wide area network – it’s your watch, it’s your shoes, it’s your everything else.”
He suggests that “our industry” is the only one capable of deploying all of these endpoints and connecting them with content, devices, people and services: “We’re the conduit for all of that in the home.”
Mark Vogel’s company Hauk Technology manufactures “signal-transparent surfaces” that allow satellite, 5G and other wireless signals to pass through roofs and other obstacles that might otherwise thwart these delicate radio waves.
Operating at higher frequencies than earlier generations (3 – 300 GHz), 5G really hates obstacles like torrential rains and buildings. Hauk opens a virtual window to the finicky signals with an RF-friendly membrane that is applied to the exterior of a building, doubling as a skylight or blending into the rooftop material.
“We’re looking forward to wireless communities and wireless in our homes,” Vogel says. “Behind our panel, that’s where all the data is received in your house” and then amplified and distributed as needed.
Ron Fleming is a former CEDIA VP now at Voxx Accessories, developer of a wide range of consumer electronics from antennas to speakers to baby monitors.
He says vendors “all believe the opportunity is limitless” when it comes to 5G because “it’s an opportunity to not only upgrade the product, but to upgrade the functionality of the product … and get the consumer excited about all the additional capabilities.”
And who better to get consumers excited about 5G? The integrator, of course. Fleming suggests dealers get educated on 5G because clients are likely to turn to them when the reality of M2M device-to-cloud solutions sets in.
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