The Americans are jostling for prominence in rolling out fast 5G, and they might just have hit on the most impressive test yet.
Now Ericsson and Verizon have shown the ability to reach data speeds hundreds of times faster than 4G – from a car driving at 60 miles per hour.
The Swedes managed a massive 25Gbps for 5G in Russia recently, but that was standing still.
We're pushing beyond today's technology - with multi-gigabit speeds and super low latency, we're enabling new applications and the Internet of Things.- Bill Goodman: Lead engineer, Ericsson Technology Team
This latest demo was performed at the famous Indy 500 Speedway where a Chevrolet Camaro was fitted with a prototype 5G receiver, which included a large antenna attached to its roof.
As the car drove around the course, it connected to each multiple signal transceivers installed in key locations.
This latest “beamforming and beam tracking” technology allowed the passenger to connect to a network at a maximum 6.4Gbps.
Instead of scattering information across a wide area, 5G uses this beam tracking to point data at a specific user even if they are moving at high speed.
It all makes for faster speeds and better connections at long ranges.
5G will bring new experiences and business opportunities like exciting virtual reality in 4K and ultra-fast wireless home broadband.
Intel, Verizon, and Ericsson’s work in establishing early trials and testing is essential to deliver on our vision of making all devices smart and connected.- Asha Keddy: Intel Communications and Devices Group
4K VR and driverless cars
Ericsson showcased exactly what they can do when they couple massive data speeds with super-low latency.
They blacked out all the windows so the driver could only navigate the course using a wireless 4K video stream from cameras broadcasting from the front of the car.
That is what makes these new test results so promising.
It demonstrates exactly how driverless cars could be able to ‘see’ the road and avoid obstacles through a low-latency network.
Establishing a traditional connection at 60mph isn’t so impressive, but showing that 5G beam tracking can keep up with a device moving at these speeds is certainly an achievement.
As the car got further away from these transceivers, the connection dropped from 6.4Gbps to a slightly less impressive 1.2Gbps – indicating that range may still be a challenge to fully overcome.
The demonstration also hints at how Virtual Reality streaming could become the standard way to watch motorsports.
The track where the test was performed is globally famous for its annual American Championship Car race, the Indy 500 and, as the name makes obvious, Verizon is the major sponsor for the Verizon IndyCar Series which runs the event.
The ability to virtually sit inside a car that’s racing in a major event, especially if that VR experience is happening live, is certainly something for motorsport fans to get excited about.
Verizon is also rolling out 11 5G trial networks across the United States, with the first set up in Michigan earlier this month.