South Korean wireless telecommunications operator SK Telecom claims to have broadcast the world's first live television event over a commercial 5G network. SK Telecom used its 5G broadcasting solution dubbed 'T Live Caster' to air over entertainment channel 'XtvN' a New Year’s countdown event held at Bosingak, a large bell pavilion located in Jongro-gu, Seoul. The 'T Live Caster' app enables smartphone cameras to capture video of live events and broadcast them over traditional television channels in real time.
"With today’s successful live TV broadcasting over commercial 5G network, SK Telecom ushers in a new era of 5G-based media services. In this new era, individual creators will be able to provide high-quality live broadcast anytime, anywhere, via 5G smartphones," said SK Telecom's Choi Nak-hoon, according to Digital Journal.
As many as 20 smartphone manufacturers – including Samsung, Huawei, and OnePlus – are planning 5G devices in 2019, according to Deloitte's upcoming Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions report, reported the Telegraph. Moreover, Deloitte's data indicate there will be 1 million 5G smartphones sold in 2019, compared to the 1.5 billion handsets sold worldwide.
Korean company LG, on the other hand, will be launching its first 5G handset under new branding before May, reported Gizmo China. LG said the separate branding will position the device appropriately, and the company will design a targeted marketing campaign to prop up 2019 sales. LG has a deal in place with Sprint to launch the carrier’s first 5G “shiny and distinct” smartphone in the first half of 2019, and the company is in talks with other wireless carriers in the U.S., South Korea, and Europe for its 5G smartphone.
Another Chinese OEM, OPPO, beat its competitors to the punch by giving a sneak peek at its first 5G-enabled prototype last month. The OPPO Find X 5G prototype shown was equipped with a Snapdragon 855 processor and X50 5G modem, and demonstrated the device's 5G data connectivity and applications through browsing, online video replay, and video call.
“OPPO will drive the advancement of 5G together with AI, Big data and Cloud Computing (5G + ABC), making smartphones and smart devices true ‘intelligent personal assistants.’ We believe that rich 5G application scenarios and killer 5G applications will emerge in the future, bringing disruptive experiences to users,” said Levin Liu, Head of OPPO Research Institute, according to Stuff.tv.
One 5G application tipped to finally take off after years of lab-based hype is autonomous driving. 5G is considered the missing link for autonomous vehicles, which require 5G's low latency, ultra-fast speeds, and enormous data processing capabilities to mimic the human driver's reflexes to navigate the road environment.
"Right now, anything over a hundred milliseconds of latency is going to cause our car to disrupt. So anytime we can get lower latency, higher bandwidth ... that's where 5G comes in," Dean Bushey, the general manager of Voyage, told Hill.TV. "5G promises one-millisecond latency. Now we've solved the latency problem associated with getting commands, and video, back and forth between the car and the command station."
"Autonomous vehicles [are] helping to solve the safety problem. One, you get rid of the parking problem; that's more of a recreational issue. Two, you get rid of the accidents," added Bushey. "The people walking out in front of cars, and cars not paying attention and having accidents that way, so the accident death rate goes way down."
Self-driving cars will use 5G wireless technology to transform the automobile industry and to disrupt consumer electronics technologies and companies, claims Computerworld's Jeff Kagan. He even suggests renaming the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019, to CES 5G 2019.
"As wireless moves further into the 5G world, we will see products and services, companies and industries use wireless to transform the way they do business," wrote Kagan. "The way we think about different industries will change. And the fundamental ways industries conduct business will transform."
Kagan notes how ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft disrupted taxi services through mobile apps, and how pay TV operated by giant cable television companies is expanding into wireless to compete against carriers like Verizon and AT&T as broadband providers.
U.S. wireless carriers deploying 5G are aided by a growing number of U.S. states passing legislation to smooth 5G rollouts. Next month, Georgia lawmakers will vote on new statewide rules governing where and how cellphone companies can install their equipment on public land.
"If approved, communication companies such as AT&T and Verizon could gain access to public rights of way if they comply with statewide standards for pole height, permitting fees and equipment sizes. County and city governments would lose most of their authority to restrict companies’ use of public land for 5G equipment," stated a report from Politically Georgia.
If the Georgia General Assembly votes ‘yes,’ Georgia will become the 23rd U.S. state to pass legislation that paves the way for faster installation of small cells needed by 5G networks.
Conversely, it's far from smooth sailing for Germany telecom companies, who are still at loggerheads with the country's federal regulator over a planned spectrum auction of 5G frequencies just three months away. Bloomberg reports that Deutsche Telekom AG has joined Vodafone Group Plc and Telefonica Deutschland Holding AG in filing a suit against the regulator, Bundesnetzagentur, for buildout requirements and conditions they deem "onerous" for the German telecom industry.
The main issue is that the regulator allegedly wants carriers to frontload their investment at the start of their 5G deployments, regardless of demand – or lack thereof -- for 5G. The companies prefer to expand their 5G infrastructure as demand picks up to keep investment costs down. They also dislike the regulator's decision to accept new entrants to the sector because, according to them, it will stoke further price competition.
In other news, New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB) recently declined a request from telco Spark to partner with Huawei in building its 5G network, reported Newshub. Huawei previously said "it’s not worth the hassle" to bid for 5G core networks in New Zealand, before authorities imposed a ban on Huawei products.
The United States, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Japan have banned Huawei from their respective markets. U.S. Pres. Donald Trump is considering an executive order prohibiting U.S. companies and operators from using equipment made by Huawei and ZTE due to cybersecurity concerns.
Spanish telecom operators Vodafone and Orange, however, are planning to work with Huawei and ZTE on pilot 5G projects, according to RCR Wireless. Orange Spain reportedly will work with Huawei in trials in Andalucia, and with ZTE in Valencia. Orange, on the other hand, intends to partner with Huawei in trials in Malaga and Seville, and in Valencia with ZTE. Meanwhile, T-Mobile Poland, which is owned by Deutsche Telekom, confirmed it would build a 5G network in the Eastern European country with the support of Huawei, according to the Telegraph.
The rest of Europe isn't so sure about letting Huawei participate in its 5G rollouts. Last month, the United Kingdom's defense minister, Gavin Williamson, expressed "very deep concerns about Huawei providing the 5G network in Britain. It's something we'd have to look at very closely."
The security agency of the Czech Republic issued two warnings against using equipment from China's Huawei and ZTE last month, according to the Telegraph. France's telco Orange said it would not hire Huawei for its upcoming 5G network, while Germany's Deutsche Telekom said it took “discussion about the security of network equipment from Chinese vendors very seriously”.
The stakes are high – auctions held in 2018, and more scheduled this year, could yield billions of euros for European governments.
An EU diplomat told FT (via Infosecurity Magazine) that the EU is "urging everyone to avoid making any hasty moves they might regret later.”
He said: “It’s quite a serious strategic problem for the EU and we haven’t properly mapped the exposure,” adding, “The problem is every country is interested in the 5G auction because it’s a massive payday. Once these auctions have happened you need to avoid a situation where you end up with the entire continent being with one [equipment] provider.”
Meanwhile, Germany's Federal Office for Information Security, has conveyed skepticism over calls to ban Huawei, which has repeatedly denied the allegations.