Verizon CEO makes the case that 5G is more than just faster phones

By Roger Cheng | Jan. 11, 2021 |

From drones to 3D renderings of museum exhibits, Hans Vestberg rattles off a list of ways 5G will change your life.

The advent of 5G was supposed to change, well, everything. But aside from tons of commercials and smartphones with a faster wireless connection — and, at times, not even that — the next-generation cellular technology has been a non-factor for most people. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg showed up to this year’s CES with a few real-world examples of how 5G will have an impact.

“It’s more than just another tech innovation,” he said at his CES 2021 keynote address on Monday. “It’s a platform that makes other innovations possible.”

Vestberg’s session is a follow-up from his appearance two years ago, when he first introduced the eight “currencies,” or the company’s jargon for 5G applications. On Monday, he ran through programs in areas like sports, education and drone deliveries that emerged from the concepts laid out in 2019.

The Verizon keynote comes at a pivotal and unconventional time for 5G. The wireless industry should be crowing about the breadth of devices and wide rollout of the network, but the coronavirus lockdown has most people at home — using Wi-Fi — and few able to take advantage of the fastest connections found in city centers. The inconsistent speeds available on 5G nationwide networks, meanwhile, have some consumers wondering what the fuss is all about.

Vestberg made the case that even as the pandemic caused many things to shut down or freeze, the work around deploying 5G and taking advantage of its higher speed and responsiveness continued through 2020. He also said these networks will be ready to serve when some sense of normalcy returns and people head back into city centers and sports arenas…

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