Canadian 5G is in the best position it’s ever been. There is a lot to be excited about. All of the major Canadian carriers are sparing no expense building up their 5G networks. The promises about what the 5G future will leave in its wake are all over the internet and TV networks. 5G-compatible smartphones are in many ways ahead of the curve compared to their network infrastructures. This means that when 5G is finally operating at an optimal level, you and I will be more than ready, device in hand.
Amid all the excitement, we still need to remember that the 5G rollout in Canada is still in its early stages. But that’s not necessarily something to be concerned about. It’s happening about as fast as we can expect it to, given the science and technology behind 5G as well as available resources. In fact, the build-up should strengthen our anticipation as we watch exciting applications unfold as the road to a 5G future carries on.
A Recent Interview With Valuable 5G Insight
Bernard Bureau, VP of Network and Architecture Strategy at Telus, was interviewed last month by popular Canadian tech site MobileSyrup. The conversation provided some really great insights into the current state of 5G in Canada and what we have to look forward to. He spoke about how the 5G revolution is going to be about a lot more than just speed increases. We’ll look at some of his statements here.
A Simple Explanation Of 5G
Bureau began by describing the next stage of wireless technology in simple terms. In summary, there was 2G, followed by 3G, then 4G (which we’ve all even using for over 10 years). 5G is next and is expected to change much more than just the wireless landscape. All signs point toward it changing everything. The low latency, hyper-fast speeds, and increased capacity that 5G promises will make incredible things possible.
He made it a point to mention that 5G is so much more than “just increased speed and capacity.” He called it “revolutionary,” saying the 5G that exists right now in Canada is nothing compared to what’s to come. 4G has focused on things like streaming video, third-party app development, and other mobile broadband applications. 5G, on the other hand, goes way beyond mobile broadband and smartphones.
He highlighted the fact that 5G’s enormous potential is based almost solely on one thing: latency. More critical than both capacity improvements and speed, latency is the main reason that 5G will completely transform wireless networks and how we use them.
As we’ve discussed in previous SureCall articles, this incredible latency will influence everything from supply chain automation and manufacturing in virtually every industry to technologies that we haven’t even thought of yet. Processes everywhere will become vastly more efficient and production time will be faster than ever. Commercial robotic workforces will finally be scalable. On top of all that, things like AI drones, autonomous vehicles, and so much more will be made possible through the security, resiliency, and ultra-low latency of 5G.
Yes, when 5G is in full swing, smartphone data speeds will be crazy fast. But that will seem like small potatoes compared to the wave of innovations brought on by 5G. Whole industries will be transformed entirely.
The Unknown Applications Of 5G
There are many obvious applications of 5G that come up often when discussing its potential benefits. But some of the applications aren’t so obvious. According to Bureau, many media outlets are sleeping on how 5G will benefit agriculture. In fact, when asked how 5G will affect Canada specifically, agriculture was one of his first examples.
Speaking about crop efficiency, he said, “You can have drones capture high-resolution HD video feeds…the video feed can be analyzed by artificial intelligence. With this, you can detect if the crop isn’t doing well, or if it needs a special type of treatment.”t
Side note: something similar to what Bureau described above is already happening in Canada, albeit with 4G technology. Many tests have already been performed to see how well drones can diagnose fields by scanning them; tests such as this one. The goal is to help agricultural businesses such as wineries increase efficiency by collecting information via drones. Field workers' time can then be redirected and optimized as they would no longer need to walk the fields.
Inject 5G into this process and the efficiency goes up dramatically, including higher resolution images and more detailed scans, not to mention increased speeds.
Telus’ Commitment To Agriculture In A Connected World
Telus believes very much in the concept of connected agriculture as it relates to 5G. So much so, in fact, that they launched Telus Agriculture. This is a new business division of their company dedicated to “providing innovative solutions to support the industry with connected technology.”
Bureau brought up a particular aspect of the agriculture industry that acted as a spark to their mission, which is the remote nature of these sites. Because these fields are usually quite removed from populated areas, they almost never have access to direct wireless technology. The infrastructures simply don’t exist in these areas yet.
“But with 5G,” he commented, “what you can do is install edge computing, very close to those farms in a particular area, and run artificial intelligence locally there. So you don’t need to send that massive amount of data back to the nearest city, you can actually run it locally, and you can get the same outcome.”
For more information on edge computing, click here and here. Essentially, it’s a locally operating mini-cloud. With this technology, users don’t have to rely on wireless (or wired) networks for data usage.
How Will Canadians Benefit From All Of This?
The average Canadian may be thinking that all this talk about drone improvements and edge computing sounds cool. But how is any of this going to affect our daily lives? Trust us. It will.
Farming & Agriculture
Sticking with Bureau’s agricultural example, the digital transformation of 5G will accelerate almost every aspect of farming and agriculture. Traceability from the field to your fridge will be hyper-accurate. The result will be fresher food for all consumers.
If you’re a gamer, you’re familiar with games streaming to your mobile device via 4G. When you game this way, the experience is often lacking. With 5G, the experience is expected to become seamless with virtually no time at all between the gamer’s input and the game’s responses.
5G In Canadian Homes
When discussing how 5G will transform Canadian home life, Bureau designated fixed wireless access points as the most exciting development on this front. This technology improves reliability, capacity, and speed inside the home. Telus already offers 4G fixed wireless access internet, but once this gets upgraded to 5G it will be a completely different experience.
Household 5G will also affect Canadians who work from home. True, most people aren’t using the internet via their mobile network in the home. Almost everyone uses a broadband (or satellite) internet connection. But for those who live in remote areas, these home-based 5G innovations will be a wonderful convenience. For many, it will finally make remote work possible.
How Soon Will We Reap These Benefits?
Given the current state of Canadian 5G, much of what Bureau talked about is likely still a few years away. However, he feels that Canadian smartphone users can benefit from 5G now by getting compatible devices. Smartphone technology is ahead of the curve compared to the network rollout. Many companies already have devices that are primed and ready, patiently waiting for their companion networks to reach their potential. LG (Velvet), Google (Pixel 5 and 4a 5G), Galaxy (S20), and Apple (iPhone 12), to name only some.
Understanding Sub-6 and mmWave
In June of this year, Canada will hold a spectrum auction. This is going to be, as Bureau put it, “very, very meaningful” for Canadians and for 5G. Why? Because compared to 4G channels, this spectrum is huge. Around 3,500 MHz compared to the 1,000-ish MHz that 4G uses.
Note: Networks have different spectrum groups they can operate with. Low-band spectrum is anything below 1,000MHz (common to 3G and 4G) which is only slightly better than 4G. High-band (also called mmWave) spectrum operates around 25-39GHz. Speeds are much faster than low-band but have a hard time passing through structure walls and can’t travel very far (only a few hundred meters). Mid-band spectrum (also called Sub-6) operates around 3,500MHz . Learn more about spectrums here.
Bureau also said that once these spectrums are purchased at auction, it will make the building of the Canadian 5G infrastructure more efficient and cheaper. “In Canada today, we’ve deployed 5G that is about 25 percent faster than 4G. But with the new spectrum… you’re going to be talking about somewhere around two times what LTE can bring.”
How Will Canada Finally Reach Pure 5G?
According to Bureau, Canada is already close. Back in June of last year when Telus rolled out the first phase of Canadian 5G, users got a taste of 5G benefits. And much has happened since then. “We’re continually expanding Telus 5G, connecting 76 markets in 2020, which is roughly 30 percent of the population,” he said. Industries such as digital education support, virtual healthcare, and economic productivity are already experiencing rewards.
But there’s still a lot more that needs to happen.
After the spectrum acquisition this summer, Canadian networks will likely focus on building mmWave networks for dense, urban areas and mid-band networks for most other areas. But Bureau predicts that where Canada is concerned, the most benefits will come from the mid-band spectrum soon to be acquired later this year.
Canadian Networks Focusing On Outcomes
Bureau continued, “5G has to be about outcomes for Canadians. As a mobile network operator, we’ve been on a journey to transform ourselves over the past several years, from a connectivity company to a company that provides solutions."
He then mentioned creating value for Canadians with recent 5G-related investments; in smart home security, healthcare, and agriculture, specifically. Telus hopes to help facilitate more efficient food yields by impacting safer and bigger production, as well as by supporting environmental sustainability, closing the digital divide gap, and improving smart home technology.
5G In Canada: A 5G Future Is Close As New Technologies Emerge - Conclusion
“You can have the greatest connectivity, it doesn’t really matter. What matters most is what you do with it,” urged Bureau. “Ultimately, I think for Canadians, what matters most is what you do with the technology, and we’re really, really mindful about that.”
Canadians have so much to look forward to in the wake of the 5G revolution. Check our blog regularly for updates on 5G in Canada as well as all things related to cell phone signal boosters.