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Futurist: Looking Over the Horizon and Considering Options for 5g and Wi-Fi.

I am a parent, futurist, and technologist. My career has spanned the birth of personal computers to the rise of cloud computing.

Change is all around us; imagine having to run HiMem.sys to see the clouds!

Change is all around us; imagine having to run HiMem.sys to see the clouds!

Once we needed Himem.sys to use more than 640k of memory in a computer!

As a futurist, I often talk about what lies ahead. Many of my friends who read these articles send me notes saying, why do you choose to look ahead so much? One of the reasons that I like to look over the horizon to see what's coming is that in my life, I've seen so many computer evolutions that it's interesting to me. I remember the days of adding hiMem.sys to the Autoexec file so that you could access more memory in a DOS computer. The original version of Windows ran on a DOS kernel. So if you needed to access more memory than the core DOS system could recognize (640k), you had to add hiMem.sys to the Autoexec. That was to access the 1 meg of memory that a computer could operate with at the time. later that moved to 4 megs of addressable memory. Most cell phones today have 1 gigabyte of memory. One of the interesting comparisons I've seen is that the computing power of an Apple iPhone 12 or a Samsung S20 is more computing power than was on the original Apollo spacecraft that flew to the moon. I'm not going to spend a lot of space talking about the fact that what you can do with the cell phone today compared to what you could do with a cell phone 15 or16 years ago is amazing. Rather today, I want to talk about what's coming?

At the end of the calendar year 2022, more than half of Americans and more than half of Europeans will have access to a cellular network capable of sustaining one gig or better network connectivity no matter where you are. That means you will have a better cellular connection than Wi-Fi speeds anywhere you go. That speed is going to continue to go up, not down. The point where we have to wonder will Wi-Fi still be around? The answer, I think, is quite simple to that question, Wi-Fi will still be around simply because there's been a huge investment in Wi-Fi over the last 20 years. If we push beyond the 20-year window from 2022, let's pick the year 2042, will there still be Wi-Fi? When I can have ubiquitous access on any device at a higher rate of speed than Wi-Fi, why would I still install Wi-Fis? The answer would simply be the Internet of things (IoT)devices. Today the cost of a 5G radio chip is expensive. It can take quite a few years for IoT devices to adopt, embrace and ultimately extend 5G services. That means that there will be between 50 and 70 billion IoT devices that are Wi-Fi connected in the world. Replacing those will probably take as long as it took to get them out in the first place. Since it's going to take around 20 years to deploy those 70 billion Wi-Fi-connected IoT devices fully, and that 20 years, by the way, extends well beyond 2022. It will take many more years to replace all yjr Wi-Fi enabled IoT devices. It's not good business to replace things that are working because there's a better version the device. But the question, of course, is at what point in the next 5 to 6 years will 5G be the preferred first choice of those IoT deployments?

The future for connectivity is huge!

The future for connectivity is huge!

well we could dig trenches to every home and apartment in the world. But would goat herders need a connection everywhere they feed their goats?

First, I picked the arbitrary date of 2028. I believe that between 2022 and 2028, we will begin to see the gradual change from Wi-Fi-connected IoT to 5G connected IoT. Once that is complete in 2028 or so, and by complete, I mean more than half the new devices deployed are 5G enabled. We will begin to see an evolution away from Wi-Fi as the primary connection. One value will be far fewer trenches in the ground will be needed. Countries that embrace the cellular technology of the 4G LTE will be able to move into the 5G world by simply improving the connection to the towers. As we consider the digital divide, where roughly 3 billion people on Earth do not have access to the Internet, 5G is a much more effective way to connect those people. You can serve many more people with a 5G tower than you can dig cable connection to every home in the world. Just the sheer time to dig 7 billion home trenches would be enormous. So the reality is at some point in the next few years, 5G will begin to replace Wi-Fi.

I want to be realistic and point out I do not believe this will happen overnight. You wake up Christmas Day 2023, and there enitre world is covered by 5g and there is a huge ceremony to turn off the last Wi-Fi router. That, just isn't going to happen.. It's going to take many years. But the interesting reality is what happens as that transition occurs. At some point in that transition., 6G will come out. As the organizations deploying the 5G signal begin to have the capacity and the initial power 60, you will see even faster deployment. The 5g to 6g upgrade will be an infrasturucture upgrade. No one will even know when it happens. I would note, the concept of a 5g home device that would act like the cable modem router in your home today. Most home owners are not likely to run out and upgrade working systems to 5g. With 5g home or 5g business you can have multiple devices in the house or business connected to the 5G connection.

So end today with talking about that digital divide. As I mentioned, there are 3 billion people globally with no access to the Internet today. There are another billion people with rough or very limited access to the Internet. That means half the world today doesn't have easy and free access to the Internet. Now some of that is government restriction. As more and more governments stop limiting access to the internet, we will see the number of no access users decrease. The move into this brave New World will ultimately give more people more robust and secure Internet connections. I see a lot of value in having the 7+ billion people on Earth connected. I do see some pretty horrific negatives as well. But the reality is we need to get to a world where everybody at least has the same opportunity to see and consume information. I guess the ending statement is I firmly believe in digital equality across planet Earth. When we have digital equality, we will be able to begin the process of healing some of the many risks we have on this planet.

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 DocAndersen

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