Total Tech Summit Keynote Address Focuses on the Future of IoT

DISH CTO Vivek Khemka says the era of 5G is just around the corner and it will change everything.

Wireless technology and its adoption have grown at an exceptionally fast rate over the last two decades. From the early mobile phones to the smartphones and connected devices of today, the evolution of tech implementation has been steadfast.

Currently, nine in 10 Americans are online. About 75 percent own a smartphone. Half own a tablet. And, those represent just a portion of connected products on the market now. Soon, those will be an even smaller fraction of IoT devices.

Total Tech Summit attendees listen to Khemka’s keynote address.
Total Tech Summit attendees listen to Khemka’s keynote address.

During the Keynote Address at the Total Tech Summit, DISH CTO Vivek Khemka highlighted the path wireless technology has taken up to this point and laid out a roadmap of where connectivity is headed in the not-so-distant future.

“I can’t think of any other technology that was adopted as fast as some of these wireless technologies,” Khemka said. “But, what I’m here to tell you is this is going to be nothing compared to what’s coming in the future.”

In the world today, there are about 15 billion smart devices. Khemka explained that in just five years, that number will balloon to 200 billion. And, those devices will have increased functionality. This hyper-connectivity would allow them to receive data, send data and make decisions.

With such a massive number of connected devices on the horizon, the current networks won’t be able to handle them all. Khemka likened it to a highway. If the infrastructure remains the same, but more cars are added, there is a traffic jam that slows everything down.

This is where 5G comes into play, as well as the radio frequencies over which the signals travel, known as spectrum. 5G improves upon 3G and 4G by modulating wireless signals differently, creating a much higher spectral efficiency.

DISH is planning on becoming a major player in that space, having spent the last several years transitioning from a satellite television provider to a larger scale technology and connectivity company. It has spent billions of dollars acquiring spectrum assets that rival the more traditional wireless carriers and will look to capitalize on the progression to 5G.

The standards for 5G still are being ratified, but should be approved next year. When they are, that will set the stage for an IoT boom, even as soon as 2020.

“When 5G becomes real, I think from your standpoint, the three things I think you should know is 5G is going to change the number of connections, the latency and the speed of the wireless network,” explained Khemka. “When we went from 3G to 4G, you went from hundreds of connections per cell to about thousands of connections per cell.

“If I were to make a prediction, I would say many of you will probably see a huge portion of your new revenue streams coming in from these IoT applications,” said Khemka.
“If I were to make a prediction, I would say many of you will probably see a huge portion of your new revenue streams coming in from these IoT applications,” said Khemka.

“So, you had 10x improvement on the number of devices that you could connect and put into one microcell. When we go to 5G, with all the spectral efficiency we get, you’re going to make a quantum leap and get to millions of devices per cell. That’s about a thousand times more than where we are today.”

The implications of this improved network are a large part of why the number of IoT devices will explode in the coming years. 3G networks had about 100 millisecond latency and 4G networks are about half that. While fast, those speeds are not conducive for many real-world applications.

To illustrate this, Khemka pointed to driverless cars. If a car needs to come to an emergency stop, at 50 millisecond latency on a 4G network, it would be about five feet before it comes to a rest. However, a 5G network has just a one millisecond latency. On that network, that same car would stop in one inch.

Khemka said the possibilities for IoT devices are endless and the 15 billion available now are only scratching the surface.

“In three to five years, as 5G becomes real, as more spectrum enters into the market… you’re going to get to a new world of Internet of Things,” he said. “And, it’s not going to be the Internet of Things as we define it today… We’re basically talking about a new world where everything is connected. Everything can receive data. Everything can send data. Everything has the capability to modify its environment, and that will basically change how industries work.”

Khemka added studies are predicting four big markets will be most impacted by an IoT explosion sparked by smart devices that are not currently possible due to the slow networks of today – manufacturing, health care, retail and security. He said this has the potential to massively disrupt these industries, while at the same time present major opportunities for integrators.

The net effect of these changes is that it will add trillions to the U.S. GDP, so there will be plenty of money available for those who are willing to embrace this new 5G world. Though, adapting to it may be a necessity.

“We are all going to be entering a space where, as we say in the technology world, you innovate or die. Companies that will innovate, companies that will adopt these new technologies, will be the ones that will be successful.”