Wireless executive pitches B.C. Techtop introduces technology to make 5G useful


Prime Minister John Horgan (second from left), Civil Service Minister Jinny Sims (third left) and Rogers Chief Technology Officer Jorge Fernandes (far right) get a demonstration of how 5G smart city planning at the BC C. Tech Summit in Vancouver on Tuesday.


The great thing about next-generation 5G wireless communication is that it will deliver data speeds that can carry the equivalent of 4K video over the cellular telephone network.

That only makes sense, said wireless supervisor Jorge Fernandes, as technical companies enable their good ideas to bring those speeds to market when his Rogers Communications company, together with Telus Corp. and Bell Canada are ready to roll it out through 2020.

Fernandes had a sales pitch for the approximately 7,000 delegates at the B.C. Tech Summit in Vancouver this week where Rogers also redoubled his efforts to set up a 5G network in the province.

"The biggest message from me is to encourage innovators, startups, companies that understand how 5G will be different, to build the ecosystem with us and others," says Fernandes, Rogers Chief Technology Officer.

That means everything from unmanned cars & automated cargo equipment in the port of Vancouver to sensors that can give earthquake warnings to the operational infrastructure networks of the computer systems.

Fernandes said Tuesday that Rogers, Telus and Bell "are all ready in the same way".

And at the Tech Summit, Fernandes said that Rogers plans to double his spending to build his existing LTE mobile communications network in B.C. and his fiber-optic internet network as the basis for launching 5G.

Rogers is working with Swedish telecom giant Ericsson to develop its 5G network and launched an "multi-million dollar" investment last fall to build a 5G demonstration hub at the University of BC as a way to test the network and invite experiments.

That makes UBC a busy place for such 5G research. Huawei Technologies, a competitor of Ericsson in the production of 5G equipment, already has a research partnership with UBC, which renewed it in 2017 with a $ 3 million commitment for advanced communications projects, including 5G.

However, the federal government is also conducting an evaluation to determine whether Huawei and other suppliers pose cyber security risks to the Canadian 5G network. The US, Australia and New Zealand have excluded Huawei and the Chinese company ZTE from their 5G networks.

For Rogers, Fernandes said that his UBC collaboration provides the company with a "living lab" to test the technology in an enclosed environment for applications such as autonomous transportation and to assess the possibility of interference between connected devices with the same network for different purposes.

"So you have the environment, the ability, the skill, the knowledge (at UBC)," said Fernandes. "It's just a great place to do it."

The advantage of 5G, Fernandes said, is that it extends computing power to the base stations that connect devices to the network rather than routing signals across the network to the computing power of central data centers.

That, coupled with a huge increase in bandwidth – the data pipeline – and 5G reduces delays in the transmission of signals to devices, which is referred to in the industry as latency.

"Ten milliseconds is what we're talking about," said Ericsson's Cristian Norlin, about the ability of 5G to take a signal, send it to the network for processing, and bounce a response back to the device . "That's unheard of (now)."