While a transportation strike is said to be putting a bit of a damper on the festivities, Mobile World Congress (News - Alert) 2016 (MWC 2016) is alive and well, and showing off all the greatest advancements in the field of mobile technology. Facebook's own Mark Zuckerberg is out at the event this week, and with him, he brought an appeal to telcos and mobile network operators, as described in Bloomberg (News - Alert) Business: Let's work together in building the upcoming 5G system.
5G could represent either a major step forward in communications infrastructure or merely an incremental improvement over what we already have. Facebook (News - Alert), however, is just one firm among many that needs mobile data networks to be better than they already are, and so it's opening up to those firms working on building 5G to give Facebook a seat at the table and a hand in the designs.
Facebook's future plans are about a whole lot more than text, including things like mobile payments, streaming video, even virtual reality thanks to its new Oculus connection. That means bandwidth needs to be a lot more available than it is even now, because the last thing customers will want is virtual reality that comes with a bandwidth cap.
So far, Facebook's request hasn't fallen on deaf ears. Intel (News - Alert) and Nokia Oyj are planning to work with Facebook on initial designs, and both SK Telecom and Deutsche Telekom will put those designs to work early on. Scalable data centers are said to be the first priority, as being able to readily expand to meet growing needs will help keep powerful networks powerful into the future. Development of 5G access is moving along at a rapid clip, as field testing is set to start by the end of 2016 from both Verizon and AT&T. There's still a long way to go, however, as industry standards agreements may take years, suggesting that the first commercial rollout won't arrive until 2020.
It's not surprising to see Facebook working toward getting a hand in 5G's design, and it's hardly alone. Google (News - Alert)'s Project Skybender is working on providing an almost immediate rollout to whatever form 5G ultimately takes, able to fire that high-speed, high-bandwidth signal just about everywhere from Manhattan to Podunk. Given the rapid rise of streaming video and other things that require bandwidth—YouTube alone consumes a staggering amount of the nation's bandwidth—that's not surprising, and we'll likely see more companies wanting in on 5G's development the farther along it goes.
5G may well change the world as we know it, opening up the field of fat pipe connections to just about anywhere for comparatively little cash. That will be a great day for consumers, now able to go as far as they like online. It will also be a great day for those companies that provide services online, like Facebook, since the network will no longer be an impediment to success.