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Verizon Wireless Networks Chief: 5G Will Herald Immersive Learning, Smarter Manufacturing

The next generation of wireless networks promises faster data exchange, lower latency, energy savings, and cost reductions. But the applications of the technology in industries such as education, healthcare, retail, and entertainment is where the real value will be unlocked.

That’s according to Nicola “Nicki” Palmer, chief network engineering officer at Verizon and the head of wireless networks at the telecommunication giant. I spoke with her in September at the Mobile World Congress Americas convention in downtown Los Angeles.

“5G will bring with it 100 times the capacity of our 4G networks. It will also bring 20 times the speeds. And it will bring much, much lower latency—single-digit latency, faster than the blink of an eye,” she says. “When you look at all those things in isolation it’s interesting, and we can do a lot with that. But when you start to combine them is where you get fascinating use cases—that’s really where the excitement is.”

Consider AR, as in augmented reality, and VR, as in its virtual counterpart. “It really doesn’t work that well on 4G networks,” Palmer says. “You need to have the low latency—that responsiveness—and the bandwidth in order to make something like that work in our mobile world.”

There are massive opportunities to be had once the capability is in place, the executive says. Consider health—think telemedicine—and manufacturing, where AR and VR can be used in conjunction with robotics to enable workers to manipulate equipment without actually being onsite.

“There are applications you can think about in almost every vertical,” Palmer says.

For more, watch our interview above.