IMC 2018: India’s 5G roadmap looks equal parts cool and creepy

Day 1 of IMC 2018 finally comes to an end, and it was all-things and everything 5G.

This was my first time attending any of the Mobile Congress’ that take place around the world, be it the MWC at Barcelona, the Asian MWC version in Shanghai, or the India Mobile Congress (IMC) that happened last year. However, I have been virtually covering the International Mobile World Congress since last three years, and to be honest, IMC turned out to be very different from what I expected.

First of all, the difference was realised in the sheer sarkari-ness of the event, which first struck me when the inaugural was delayed by two hours, despite IMC putting up a minute-by-minute classified agenda for the day on its website, days in advance.

India Mobile Congress.

India Mobile Congress.

Another difference I found was in terms of the exhibition. I was dearly looking forward to seeing some new gadgets and new technology at IMC this year, however, the event was pretty much themed around 5G. It is not to say I am disappointed by that, I was just hoping to see a little more.

Having said that, 5G is unarguably an incredible step forward, and at the first day of IMC, we saw some very cool ways it could be implemented into India’s future. The live 5G demo showcasing Jio’s use of 5G Ultra Broadband to drive vehicles, trigger drone patrols seemed something out of a Black Mirror episode.

We had companies like Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, Reliance Jio, and Qualcomm demonstrate what 5G implementation could look like in the next few years. And if it goes as planned, the future looks very interesting.

While there were quite a lot stalls and demos, there were a few that especially caught my attention.

The first was the Samsung 5G Cloud gaming setup, which is basically gaming with just a monitor and a controller, and your console box is completely out of the picture, thanks to 5G Cloud. So not only is it aesthetically more pleasant, but it is so much more convenient in terms of storage. You just have to purchase a title off the cloud, and stream it at ultra fast speeds.

Another use case demo of 5G was to do with a Maserati. The demo showed how if 5G hotspots are installed along the road and at fuel stations, you can automatically receive an update on the traffic status ahead of you. Along with that, if you have a car with an entertainment system in it, while passing by these points you can download an entire movie in just seconds.

Finally, Huawei had the most amazing cocktail of cool and creepy in the implementation of 5G for facial recognition. All of this will basically be done using a surveillance camera, which will have a processor fitted inside, that will allow it to recognise people’s faces and lay down every bit it knows about the person whom the face belongs to. Those details will be stored in its database. I am talking about everything from your name, age, eye colour, to address. This tech could be used by companies to get rid of punch-in and access cards, or by the government for surveillance (which is an extremely scary thought).

On the second day I am hoping to see a little more India-centric use case scenarios of 5G.

Ericsson and Reliance Jio will be holding a briefing tomorrow at noon to discuss the 5G network in India, and I think I am going to get some cool scoop there.

If you have anything in particular you want us to look at, at the event, drop a comment below, and we’d try to get it covered.

Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.

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