One of the main topics I heard talked about at Mobile World Congress is 5G— the next generation cellular. I tried to forget everything I know about 5G, and I roamed the floor to figure out what companies are aiming to do with 5G and when?

The industry is certainly promoting the vision of 5G. The vision is for a high data rate and low latency connection to a phone. Basically, it is like 4G, just faster, but it is certainly not cheaper. Plus, with consumers shifting focus on streaming and less on making phone calls, it left me wondering what the use case is?

I saw some virtual reality applications and a few streaming scenarios, to a phone, to a car, to a headset. I saw a Gigabit phone, with a 16Gbps download demo, as well as infotainment and connected services for cars. But, what is the technology that makes all this work? First, I tried to figure out what the operating frequency is. I found radios at 80GHz, 70GHz, 26GHz, sub 6GHz, 28GHz, 39GHz, and 3.5GHz. Then, I looked at radio and networking technologies and I found MIMO antennas, beamforming, self-healing networks and other expected methods.

All in all, I came away excited about the vision, but confused about the technology, as it seems like 5G is still defining itself. The one thing I know for sure is that 5G comes after 4G. The rest remains a bit vague.

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Roberto Aiello
Managing Director, Itron Idea Labs - Itron Idea Labs
Dr. Roberto Aiello is the managing director of the Itron Idea Labs and responsible for new business innovation at Itron, including Internet of Things.

His previous experience includes managing wireless research at Interval Research, Paul Allen's technology incubator and technology transfer at Disney Research. He is an advisor to Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) and is a Lean Startup expert who serves as a mentor at the Cleantech Open and Startup Weekend.

Dr. Aiello also founded two venture-funded, wireless semiconductor companies and one web/mobile startup. Dr. Aiello worked as a physicist at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Superconducting Super Collider.