Technology

The Associations Helping Make 5G Happen

By / Aug 20, 2018 (Dibas/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

With the next generation of wireless technology expected to finally reach consumers starting early next year, now’s a good time to check in on the associations that are turning the aspiration into reality.

The next generation of wireless data has long been trumpeted as the future of communication, but the idea of 5G has been an off-in-the-distance aspiration rather than something tangible. Now, signs of 5G’s real-world emergence are starting to crop up.

Last week, Verizon laid out some of its early plans for bringing 5G connectivity to the market next year, with a pledge that the service will be fast enough for home internet access. Sprint, meanwhile, plans to work with LG to release a 5G smartphone next year, while both AT&T and T-Mobile (which is pushing for a merger with Sprint) are putting together the 5G rollout for their networks.

That’s very much within shouting distance.

Associations have played a sizable role in getting the fifth generation of wireless technology ready for prime time. Among them:

Wireless Infrastructure Association. WIA, which represents companies that build the underlying technology that makes high-speed wireless access possible, has been closely assisting with the rollout—and pointing out places where stakeholders could help make the task easier. “What we need to make 5G work is more spectrum as soon as we can get it, we need to eliminate barriers to siting wireless infrastructure, and we need to make sure that we have people properly trained to actually build these networks,” WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein said in recent comments on C-SPAN reported by RCR Wireless News. “We’re finding support from policymakers on all of those fronts. The wind’s at our back in that sense … but these are not minor issues.”

CTIA. The U.S. wireless trade group has long been advocating for the development of 5G technology and touting its benefits to consumers. Its “Race to 5G” website explains the benefits of the technology, where it’s expected to be used, and “how to win” the 5G race.

Consumer Technology Association. CTA, which supports the gadget-makers of the world, has made 5G one of its centerpieces at CES in recent years. In December, the association released a report that explored how 5G will transform the user experience and boost emerging technologies like the internet of things. “Fueled by the power of 5G, consumers’ mobile experience will be transformed into a feeling of almost limitless bandwidth,” CTA Vice President of Market Research Steve Koenig wrote in a blog post. “So, while it’s inspiring to think about smart cities in a 5G world, I for one am excited for a world where mobile calls almost never drop, and music and video stream flawlessly.”

GSM Association. The association representing the global mobile industry has been a key cheerleader for the development of 5G technology, but it notes that it might be a while before 5G is available everywhere on the planet. In a report released earlier this year, GSMA predicted that by 2025, just 14 percent of all connections will be using it globally, with uptake lower in some parts of the world than others.

5G Automotive Association. Vehicles are one place where 5G could make its imprint where prior wireless technologies have not. The 5G Automotive Association counts technology companies and automakers among its members—Intel, Ford, Qualcomm, BMW, and Nokia are just some of them. (There are a couple of holdouts—particularly Toyota and GM, who favor a different technology.) The potential of the technology for vehicles was recently highlighted in an MIT Technology Review piece.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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