Verizon exec: 5G will be 'transformational' for society, not just economy

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Verizon Consumer Division CEO Ronan Dunne. Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Kairos Society

A senior executive at one of the world’s biggest telecoms companies has said 5G technology will transform not only the world’s economy but also society.

Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon’s (VZ) consumer business division, said on Friday: “5G is not another G — it’s a fundamentally transformational capability. We’ve got the opportunity to leverage at scale technology on behalf of society.”

5G is the next generation of wireless cellular technology that is being rolled out across the world. It promises to offer faster wireless internet speeds, greater network capacity, lower latency, and more flexibility.

Most people will think of mobile internet provision when they think of 5G — it is, after all, the next step along from the 4G that many people use to browse the web on their smartphones.

But Dunne said 5G will go beyond smartphone and be “an enabling platform, on which the next generation of our society will be built.”

He gave the example of healthcare, where super-fast wireless internet could allow for remote “high definition screening” for people in rural areas “to determine if they need to make journey to doctor.”

Dunne said 5G technology could also allow innovation in areas such as smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and 3D printing.

The comments came during an appearance on stage at the One Young World conference in London, where he was interviewed on stage by Lianna Brinded, head of Yahoo Finance UK. Yahoo Finance UK is a division of Verizon.

Lianna Brinded (L), head of Yahoo Finance UK and Ronan Dunne, CEO of consumer business at Verizon on stage at the One Young World conference in London. Photo: One Young World

UBS (UBS) said in a report on 5G last month: “Applications beyond mobile wireless look much more interesting over the longer-term.”

“We expect 5G will be a communications backbone that supports artificial intelligence, the internet of things on an unparalleled scale, Big Data, and the next generation of cloud computing,” the investment bank said in a note sent to clients.

Dunne said education systems would also have to adapt to ensure people understand the potential of 5G and how to utilise it.

“There’s no point in just building platforms,” he said. “What we have to do is create an ecosystem where everybody in this room, all the companies work for, all the NGOs you represent, all the ideas you have, understand how that platform will help.”

Dunne called for a “new coalition between public and private partnership” to ensure 5G reaches everywhere and to “expand the impact” of the technology.

UBS said last month that there are “very real economic issues that carriers and vendors will need to address” around funding the development of 5G. Finnish telecoms company Nokia (NOKIA.HE) was this week hit by the cost of rolling out 5G. Shares plunged by a fifth after the company issued a profit warning linked to the cost of the technology.