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If you’re finding it hard to keep up with the pace of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, don’t expect it to get easier.

At left, moderator Sue Marek of SDxCentral poses questions about 5G to Cristiano Amon of Qualcomm, Qi Lu of Baidu and Hans Vestberg of Verizon during a CES keynote presentation.

5G smartphones, which promise to boost data speeds and jumpstart cloud access, will be on retail store shelves in 2019, according to a panelist during one of the keynote presentations at CES in Las Vegas.

5G promises to make it easier for businesses to access cloud technology, and to enable faster development of both business and consumer services.

The rollout of 5G phones is expected to happen rapidly because of improved latency, which refers to a network’s ability to process a high volume of data with minimal delay. According to the CES panel, 5G’s low latency keeps the price down by offloading phone memory to the cloud.

“The ‘real time’ will be there,” said panelist Hans Vestberg, executive vice president of Verizon, who said 5G will give companies “new currencies” to connect to customers and to engage work forces. He said Verizon will introduce 5G in three to five markets this year, focusing first on residential broadband.

Bigger concerns face kiosks

While 5G will deliver new capabilities for the self-serve kiosk industry along with other industries, the more pressing issue for kiosks is the need to upgrade to 4G, Steve Garrett, a sales engineer for OptConnect, a provider of wireless connectivity solutions for unattended equipment, told Kiosk Marketplace. This is because the 3G networks that many kiosks are currently using, which are slower, will be discontinued in the near future.

Verizon will stop activating 3G after June this year and the 3G network will no longer be accessible after December of 2019, Garrett said. Cellular providers will be able to keep 3G devices online if Verizon permits it.

So the question presents itself: Why should a business invest in 4G with 5G coming on its heels?

“There’s not a whole new network that has to be built,” Garrett said with regard to 5G.

In addition, despite what the CES panelists led many listeners to think in Las Vegas recently, 5G will not be coming next year.

“It’s going to be a couple years probably before 5G devices start to be prevalent in the market, so that investment can occur,” Garrett said.

He suggested kiosk companies invest in 4G technology and connect to an external router or modem that could be exchanged as new technology evolves. That way, they would not have to change their board.

“4G is certainly plenty of speed and low enough latency for every kind of kiosk application we can think of at the moment,” he said. “The vending of a product from a Best Buy kiosk in an airport kiosk will not require 5G.”

Kiosks that have their own embedded designs on their boards will have to recreate the boards to support a 4G embedded modem chip, he said.

What 5G will offer

Meanwhile, 5G, designed so that fixed cellular connections can replace fiber optic connections between points, will create a lot of new functionalities, Garrett said.

5G will bring new digital signage kiosk capabilities such as a doctor’s booth in a mall that provides a procedure that needs to be tightly controlled in low time, he said.

“That would require low latency and a guarantee of transmission of data back and forth, and maybe some high definition video,” he said. “That application doesn’t really exist today because the transmission networks don’t really allow it.”

5G’s low latency will particularly import to applications such as smart cities and autonomous cars, Garrett said, where speed of information and connection reliability can be very critical.

“Your car has to know the car in front of it put on its brakes, and it can’t lose that information,” he said.

On the downside, he said 5G signals will not travel as far because it uses higher frequencies.

“The signals won’t go as far and they can’t get through walls and other barriers as well,” Garrett said. “That makes it much worse for kiosks and digital signs that have been placed inside buildings.”

To overcome this, carriers will install small antennas in densely populated areas. The transmitters will be closer to the cellular devices — the handsets and kiosks.

When will 5G arrive?

CES panelist Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm Inc., announced that his company will have 5G phones in stores in 2019. He said 5G will bring economies of scale faster to industries.

“The scale we (the 5G industry) can get to other industries is going to happen faster,” Amon said, noting that the migration to 4G happened faster than that of its predecessor, 3G.

Low latency will enable users to utilize cloud storage and connectivity more easily, Amon said.

“IT infrastructure is going to start to move up to the cloud,” he said. “That’s going to change business models left and right,” he said. He said industries such as health care and automotive will be significantly affected.

The amount of services wireless network operators are already building on 5G has been impressive, Amon added.

Panelist Qi Lu, president and chief operating officer at Baidu, a China-based web services provider, said 5G will enable his company to develop a lot of artificial intelligence applications that the company is anxious to commercialize, such as self-driving cars. He said it will also support the development of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.

“Data is a new form of capital,” Lu said. “With more data, the innovation cycle will accelerate. Our job is really to unleash the capability.” He said his company is taking an “open platform” approach with artificial intelligence.

5G allows a higher density of mobile broadband and lower battery consumption, supporting faster implementation of Internet of Things technologies, he said.

“Mobility is the furthermost essence of intelligence,” said Lu. “The mobility is the key. This modality will be everywhere.”

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