Qualcomm. Samsung. Ericsson. Nokia. Huawei. Even Google is in on the fun. Go ahead, try and name a CES attendee, or even any major tech firm, who will be showing off something at CES or in the near future that won't either be made possible by 5G, or at least benefit from 5G. If you're finding that next to impossible, you're not alone, and there's a very good reason for that. 5G network technology has been hyped to death as the infrastructure of the future. The blazing-fast, super-stable, omnipresent connection that 5G is supposed to represent at its peak has been said to be poised to enable everything from always-on networked AI to incredible mixed reality experiences. The kicker is that most of this is set to be happening from our pockets, and will likely be live in just a few short years. It sounds like science fiction or hyperbole, but the pieces are all in place, the writing is on the wall, and tech companies are going to show us that future at CES.
Despite being the first to run field tests for 5G, indications so far point to Verizon being relatively quiet at CES. They're going to be pretty much the only ones, though, aside from Sprint, whose recent money troubles are leaving them lagging a bit in 5G. T-Mobile is supposed to unveil something big, and AT&T's Tom Keathley is supposed to be on site to talk about AT&T's 5G advancements. Meanwhile, all the big players in the network equipment field will be there showing off their progress, including Qualcomm, Samsung, and Nokia, the three companies whose equipment will very likely be powering the 5G networks maintained by US carriers when they roll out around 2020. Everybody will be talking a big game about the possible benefits of 5G and how far along they are toward bringing the technology to life.
So, with all of the network players in place and the promise of bidding the YouTube loading wheel adieu for good floating in the air, what kind of cool 5G-centric stuff can we expect from the usual suspects at CES? While not everybody has made their plans known just yet, Amazon and Intel have made it very public that they plan to show off a "tiny smart home" based on advanced IoT management systems contained in a custom OS running on custom hardware. This, of course, will function exponentially better in the real world with 5G connecting the custom boxes to their host servers. On a more speculative note, we will more than likely see new IoT technologies, self-driving cars, and advanced VR and AI all making a showing at CES, and all with a very clear boost from 5G in their future. Self-driving cars will be able to share data in real time, IoT may finally solve its communication conundrum, neural-networked AI can use just about anything as a node, and massive VR experiences delivered to phones or standalone headsets via the cloud will probably be feasible with 5G, among other goodies.
In conclusion, even if some of the attendees don't outright say it, it's looking more and more like 5G is going to be at the center of everything for CES this year. You'll be hard-pressed to find something on the showroom floor this year that won't somehow benefit from 5G becoming a reality, and a lot of the things on show will be next impossible to accomplish in the real world for a massive crowd of users without 5G connectivity in the mix. Mind you, what will be at CES is only the tip of the iceberg; all of the industry players and media outlets spewing 5G hype are anything but full of hot air, and entirely new use cases are sure to begin popping up once the tech goes live.