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How the 5G global wireless revolution is powering B.C.’s future

TELUS leads the way into a 5G-enabled future that promises much more than faster and more reliable networks; it means a greater quality of life and stronger economy for years to come.

Get ready, British Columbia. The next generation of wireless networks is right around the corner, bringing with it revolutionary changes to the way we work, live, learn, communicate with each other, and do business.

The 5G era promises a new age of hyper-connectivity. Where 1G gave us the very first cellular phones and 4G brought us the fast wireless speeds we enjoy today, 5G will deliver dramatically faster speeds, higher bandwidth, lower latency and more reliable connections. That, in turn, will enable a whole new digital reality, including smart cities of the future, self-driving cars, sophisticated robots, highly coordinated drones, and scores of innovations we have yet to imagine.

“There is great potential to improve our quality of life through 5G. The possibilities are virtually limitless,” says Bernard Bureau, vice-president of 5G spectrum and wireless networks at TELUS.

Just this month, the life-changing -- and, in many cases, life-saving -- potential of a 5G-enabled future was on full display at the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance in Vancouver. The global forum ran November 6 to 8, and brought together the world’s foremost wireless operators such as TELUS, along with vendors, manufacturers and research institutes, to discuss a future powered by the near-limitless potential of 5G networks.

There, TELUS demonstrated just a few of the innovative 5G applications the future network will enable for the business and public sector, including a smart system that will allow caregivers to track wandering dementia patients in real time using an app that zooms in on the patient’s location via a connected bracelet; a smart vest worn by emergency responders that gives remotely located experts a 360-degree view of a hazardous fire or spill; and a virtual reality-ready drone capable of collecting and sending highly detailed intelligence back to a police command center that may be located across the street or across the province.

The applications were all used to demonstrate the power of 5G as countless new applications enabled by lightning-fast and ultra-low latency networks become more mainstream over the next five years.

"5G means so much more than more speed. It’s really when you start looking at the more evolved applications that you can really see how much impact it will have on our future and our lives. It’s very, very exciting,” he says.

Critically, the benefits of this technological shift extend well beyond consumer applications. British Columbian businesses can expect big returns from 5G in the form of vastly improved productivity and efficiencies through emerging technologies like the industrial Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality, digital healthcare and robotics.

“This will optimize the whole operation,” says Bureau. Indeed, with faster and more reliable connections, Bureau believes the province is well positioned to lead the way into the emerging digital economy; opening up new opportunities for business and fueling economic growth.

TELUS has already been hard at work laying the foundation for 5G deployment in British Columbia and beyond through its world-leading fibre optic network. Capable of carrying huge amounts of information at nearly the speed of light, the TELUS PureFibre network provides the backbone for the TELUS 5G wireless network; setting the stage for the tremendous technological changes at our doorstep.

On the wireless front, TELUS has been investing in critical technology components and deploying them right here in Vancouver in its “5G Living Lab.” In 2016, the company achieved blazing-fast wireless speeds of 30 Gbps – 200 times faster than today’s LTE standard – and in 2017 it deployed one of the world’s first successful pilot networks based on 5G standards. Through the 5G Living Lab, TELUS has firmly placed Vancouver at the forefront of global wireless innovation.

And it’s just the beginning as TELUS continues to invest billions of dollars to make B.C. -- rural and urban communities alike -- one of the most connected places on the planet. That means more communities connected to TELUS’ advanced fibre network and next-generation wireless networks to help local industries grow and thrive for years to come.