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The 5G Hype: What’s The Signal In The Noise?

Is 5G a wireless revolution or simply the natural step in technology’s evolution? Mary Clark, William Webb and Brad Grossman took to the BOF VOICES stage to go behind buzz.
Brad Grossman, William Webb and Mary Clark speak during #BoFVOICES | Source: Getty Images for The Business of Fashion

OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — It’s been labelled a carcinogenic risk, the promise of a better future and is the subject of a geopolitical rivalry between China and the United States. So how much attention should we pay to 5G?

Speakers Mary Clark and Professor William Webb, mediated by Zeitguide's Brad Grossman, had different takes on whether the promised future could — or — become reality. “The spinning wheel of death goes away,” said Clark, chief product and marketing officer at Synchronoss, a cloud solutions company. She argued that 5G can transform the world through improved access and connectivity, predicting that remote-operated surgery, near-instant movie downloads and flawless mobile phone service were on the horizon.

Webb, chief executive of Webb Search Consultancy, countered that much of this had been promised with the arrival of 4G, while the real-world impact proved to be more modest. He also questioned the need for 5G’s more futuristic applications when so much could be accomplished by improving 4G coverage.

“My car already goes faster than the speed limit, what’s the point of going five times faster?” he said. “5G really should be focused on getting good coverage everywhere… not downloading a movie in four seconds.”

To learn more about VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers, visit our VOICES website, where you can find all the details on our invitation-only global gathering.

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