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Super-high speed will not be the only thing that 5G mobile technology will deliver to users when it eventually becomes available, according to an official of Swedish network company Ericsson LM.

Vish Nandall, CTO for Ericsson North America, said 5G will be dealing with the demands of wireless sensors on a myriad of networked devices as well as a vast array of consumer gadgets. He estimates that in the next few years, 5G networks will be serving no less than 50 billion connections.

Not all of those connections will be demanding megabits per second speeds, he said.

For instance, many remote sensors would actually require slow connections to decades-long battery life.

Many components of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) are likely to require a much higher reliability that what consumers need when they are simply making cellular phone calls.

Drop calls, Nandall said, may be the last thing enterprise or government departments would like when deploying an industrial application. For example, a device that opens and shuts the floodgates of a dam had better work properly and at the right time, he said.

5G is not likely to become publicly available until 2020, according to Nandall.

A major net step in the standards process of 5G would be to deliver 10 times the speed of 4G. In theory this would mean achieving a maximum of 10 Gbps.

However, as businesses discover more uses for wireless technology, Nandall said, service providers are likely to carve up 5G networks and dedicate only a part of it to mobile Internet. He said 5G should be flexible enough so that wireless carriers can reprogram and reconfigure their networks to accommodate different applications.

Carriers can cut the price of mobile data by moving to 5G, according to Nandall. He said many carriers have actually cut the cost of delivering a megabyte of data by 50 per cent per year from 2008. The reduction has not appeared on many consumers’ bills because average data consumption has also double each year, Nandall said.

He said for the meantime, 4G will coexist with 5G, Wi-Fi and other network technologies.

Nandall also foresees the development of a lightweight protocol for machine-to-machine communications.

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