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5G Canada: What’s Next?

CWTA (Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association) President & CEO Robert Ghiz’s framing of the potential societal change from 5G may be considered ambitious. He introduced the first of CWTA’s “5G Canada: What’s next?” virtual series panel on 5G from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He recounted that in 1864 in the same city, the Atlantic provinces were then debating their future – whether to become an independent bloc or gasp, even join the US. The Charlottetown Conference began the process of the Canadian Confederation. The Maritime provinces eventually joined the Confederation on the promise of the railway to bring this country together.

The railways and the idea of connecting Canada then, may have been considered similarly ambitious. The railways allowed Canada to achieve social and economic greatness. Ghiz believes that the advent of 5G offers a similar inflection point, one that will propel Canada to becoming more competitive globally.

Eric Smith, SVP, CWTA moderated the panel with Luciano Ramos, SVP of Core Networks and Engineering at Rogers, Bruce Rodin, VP Wireless Technology at Bell, and Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas. 5G Americas is a trade association advocating for evolution to 5G in South, Central, and North America. All three panelists approached this subject from different perspectives.

Chris Pearson shared that 5G is the fastest growing generation of any wireless technology (when referencing quarter on quarter growth). The average 5G speeds were 205.3% faster than 4G LTE.  Among G7 countries, Canada ranked 3rd fastest for 5G. And most notably, he pointed out that 5G was designed to address new vertical use cases, supporting an innovation ecosystem.

Luciano spoke to the transformational potential of the technology. We can’t even imagine the use cases that may be created. Who knows, the equivalent to the great companies out of Silicon Valley may start here in Canada instead due to 5G. Luciano spoke to the tremendous work it has taken to get 5G rolled out, especially with the difficulties of operating in Canada with its large geography and low density of population.

Bruce Rodin focussed on the technical advantages of the technology, especially in its standalone form. It will allow network slicing i.e., allowing the wireless service provider to efficiently push connectivity at different speeds and latencies to different use cases at the same time. He spoke to edge computing, where more of the computation and data storage happens closer to the device rather than far away, allowing for much faster response times. All the panelists touched on this key element that makes this evolution to 5G technology exciting. All previous technologies, 1G to 4G were essentially add-ons to what was already available. 5G in its final form will be the first standalone technology, built afresh from the ground up. Rogers started rolling out its standalone 5G network in December 2020.  

The key message from the panel was that, 5G is an exceptionally powerful upgrade to what we imagine wireless technology can do. As we imagine our own lives after COVID, Rogers is excited about what 5G can do for customers, for businesses, for Canada and our future prosperity.

Charit Katoch is Director of Public Policy at Rogers