Insights from Ericsson into 5G and the Future of Work

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Photo by: Institute for International Communication

On 22 September 2016, Ulf Wahlberg gave a live video presentation from Sweden to St. John’s students on the upcoming 5G mobile standard and the consequences it will have for our future work. Wahlberg, Vice President of Industry and Research Relations within Group Function Technology at Ericsson in Stockholm, joined the company in 1984 and has ever since gained outstanding expertise in digital mobile systems development. The event was hosted by the Institute for International Communication and arose great interest of students and faculty as Wahlberg spoke to an audience of approximately 150 people gathered in D’Angelo Center on St. John’s University campus in Queens.

What is 5G?

Basically, 5G means limitless internet access, everywhere and anytime. However, right now Ericsson is still thinking about how we can meet the different requirements that come with planning to make 5G a global standard. For example, 5G requires batteries that last ten times longer than they do today, especially with regards to devices within the Internet of Things. Apart from that, there is a need for a lot more mobile data.

What changes will 5G bring for industries?

But what Wahlberg mainly talked about was the influence that a new global standard of 5G will have on many industries such as transportation, entertainment, e-commerce or the health sector. On the one side, new technologies bring new possibilities and can be used to bring progress. Nevertheless, among the various rather critical questions that new technologies in these areas arose among students were: Will remotely controlled robots and self-driving buses create more jobs than they take away? Will developing countries be left behind by new technologies following 5G or will they also profit from it or even be the ones most in favor of global standards? What effects will the increasing data collection linked to an Internet of Things have on society? In what way will business models in industries change in order to enhance this new technology? Finally, besides all the innovation and positive changes that 5G can bring, we also have to think about how and to what extent global policies and government regulations should keep up with these rapid digital developments. Hacking and cyber terrorism pose big challenges already and for the future.

What does 5G mean for media and communication students? 

By 2017 experts expect the first 5G devices to be on the market and Wahlberg estimates that 5G will be introduced as a new global standard around 2020. While it is always difficult to predict the future, one thing is clear: We have to prepare for it. We can do this by always staying informed, gaining knowledge trough reading and simply get educated. But it is equally important to increase the interaction between academia and industry, as Wahlberg concluded.

#FutureofWork: See live tweets on the event by @acemedialab.

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