By Steve Carlini, Vice President of Innovation and Data Center at Schneider Electric.
I must be honest and confess that my knowledge of the World Economic Forum (WEF) was limited to a once-a-year meeting in Davos-Klosters where the world's top leaders collaborate to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.
The Forum's mission, as I understood it, was to improve the state of the world by bringing together leaders across industries and society – a pretty lofty goal.
What I didn’t know is that the WEF has numerous platforms, councils, communities, and workgroups that are all dedicated to the same goal. I was pleased to find out 5G was high on the Forum’s radar when they contacted me a few months ago and said they were forming a 5G workgroup comprised of stakeholders across the next gen telco ecosystem. I was more pleased when they asked me to join this group, the World Economic Forum’s 5G-Next Generation Networks Programme, and I happily accepted.
It was an exciting invitation for me because I’d spend the prior six months researching and collaborating on the data centre architecture needed for 5G. I wanted to share what I’d learned with a broader group and collaborate further with the members of this programme. I was also interested in participating in the cross-industry workshops planned for London, Singapore, and Silicon Valley.
Sharpening Our 5G Focus
The first workshop was held in London and focused on three areas:
- sharing knowledge on 5G/next gen mobile technologies, as well as enterprise use cases and experiences;
- understanding implications for enterprises and ecosystem players looking to innovate in the 5G era;
- exploring cross-industry collaborative opportunities with objectives and impact areas across three domains: industry, society, and government.
The first output from the 5G-Next Generation Networks Programme is a ‘Repository of 5G Use Cases’, that features 5G case studies from Korea Telecom, Ericsson, Nokia, Ford, Lyft, and others. Schneider Electric’s use case is featured on pages 31 and 32 with the topic of Metro/Regional and Local Mobile Edge Cloud (MEC) buildout. Highlights include:
- the need to deploy an architecture of data centers that includes core, regional/metro mobile edge cloud, and local mobile edge cloud;
- the need for 7.5 million standalone 5G towers with base stations including MEC (mobile edge cloud) in the future;
- a description of the ecosystem players driving 5G.
Hope for Finding the ‘Killer App’ for 5G
In addition to the ‘Repository of 5G Use Cases’, a white paper called ‘The Impact of 5G: Creating New Value across Industries and Society’ is also available. Schneider Electric collaborated on the content and provided a manufacturing-based case study:
Schneider Electric plans to leverage 5G to simplify factory IT operations, improve support to manufacturing, and accelerate factory digitisation. 5G demonstrations at Schneider Electric’s Le Vaudreuil factory leverage low latency and high throughput and secure indoor coverage to validate a range of use cases along various aspects. These include:
- enhancing the operational efficiency of field maintenance technicians through content delivery and seamless assistance from remote experts;
- enabling Schneider customers to remotely tour the factory with a telepresence robot;
- enabling Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) in the factory to send video streams and sensors and receive real-time instructions to perform tasks not programmed in AGVs.
As the group moves forward, programme members will continue to collaborate and we are confident we will identify the ‘killer app’ that will drive deployment and adoption of 5G.
At Schneider Electric, we are also collaborating on establishing cooperative models for infrastructure investment. Topics under discussion include policy impact and stakeholder mapping (smart cities), business/revenue models, infrastructure investment ecosystem, etc.
Subsequent to the Forum’s next workshops, look for new 5G content to be published. It’s going to be an exciting journey.