MotoTalks Podcast - Episode 1: Inside 5G
Music: Hello, Moto.
Chris Francica ( Co-Host ): Welcome to our very first episode of MotoTalks from Motorola, a podcast that breaks down the latest mobile technology and trends, what we're working on at Motorola to help push the mobile industry forward and lots of other great and cool stuff. I'm your co host, Chris Francica. I've got with me, Doug Michau. Say hello, Doug.
Doug Michau ( Co-Host): Hey, Chris. Hello, everyone, and welcome to our first podcast.
Chris Francica: We have an awesome episode for you. Today we're talking all about 5G. We'll discuss the state of 5G today. Also what's on the horizon with a couple of cool things that just happened recently. We also have a special guest with us here super excited about this, who will chat with us later about some common misconceptions of 5G and also how they see the evolution of 5G coming over the next months and years. But first, I want to acknowledge we're here in April. This is kind of Motorola's month. What's the meaning of April, specifically, April 3, what can you tell us about April 3 that date?
Doug Michau: Yeah, absolutely. There's two important milestones on this date. And the first is everyone may or may not know is on April 3, 1973. The first mobile phone calls made by Martin Cooper in downtown Manhattan. It was on the Motorola dynaTAC 8000x. So that we're really excited about that first phone call. And of course, that product is something that was almost two pounds in weight and it almost took two hands to hold. And you know, you fast forward to some of our new technology. Our most recent device such as a Moto G plays about a fourth of that weight and of course it's extremely pocketable. So this has come a long way phone dog that everyone referred to as the brick phone. Right? It's literally like a foot long and several inches deep.
Doug Michau: This is it - it was a massive piece of technology. I forgot to mention even the antenna size on that. Probably added another foot to the overall phone size.
Chris Francica: Tell us about the name dynaTAC. It sounds cool. But I have a sense it was hiding something super nerdy.
Doug Michau: Ah, yeah. So dynatac. And we're going to quiz everyone on this later. It's actually short for dynamic adaptive total area coverage. So I guess … that's the first generation of cellular.
Chris Francica: All right, let's fast forward several years. What about April 3 2019? I think something special happened on that date also.
Doug Michau: Yeah, well, I remember it was a cold day. And that's, teah, definitely something very exciting happened. So, Motorola was the first to demonstrate mobility, 5G. And we did that right on the streets in Chicago using ultra wideband. So one of the very first to do that, we're really excited. It was a quite a coincidence that that happens, you know, just 46 years after that initial first phone call. That's pretty special that you know, to be around for a milestone like that.
Chris Francica: I know, I can remember just looking outside and watching the technology kind of get built up on the street corners with 5G boxes. And then you know to have the first 5G phone call happened with our moto mods is a pretty special thing. We've got a lot more to say on this. We're going to cover some some pretty cool things about 5G. Before we get to the good stuff. We're going to start off with a quick recap of recent Motorola news with the MotoMinute.
Chris Francica: So Doug, what were the standout moments for you for Motorola in March.
Doug Michau: Motorola has really been innovative in March releasing two new features Ready For and the moto g 100. With Ready For, we know that everyone has spent a significant amount of time working. You know, obviously, we've been learning and playing from our home area as we practice social distancing, Ready For is bringing consumers now the mobile desktop gaming, entertainment and video chat. And what that allows you to do is that you simply plug in your phone to any Lenovo monitor or a TV and you can have a much more immersive experience by enjoying that content and a much bigger screen.
Chris Francica: Yeah, I think one of the things I'm most excited about with ready for is just its simplicity. You know, you plug it right into a TV or monitor and everything pops up, it's all ready to go.
Doug Michau: Absolutely. It's very easy to use, and you can learn more about the ready for it Motorola comm or you can check out Tim Schofield’s, Your Tech Simplified video that fully reviews that feature.
Chris Francica: Awesome. Well, that wraps up the Moto Minute.
Chris Francica: So now that we've recapped marks, let's dive into today's main topic, which is 5G. And let's start with the basics. So, Doug, what part has Motorola played in the development of 5G technology? And I know that's a super broad question. So why don't we back up and start kind of before any devices were even launched? What was Motorola doing in the years leading up kind of before everything was live.
Doug Michau: So with any new technology that gets deployed, it starts with standardization. And Motorola was a very active participant in the 3 GPP standards organization, not only in contributions, but but also leading various task groups. Before those standards were found and analyzed, which was called release 15. We were in our labs running different types of networks both emulated networks from test equipment vendors. And then we even had some sample GnodeB's.
Doug Michau: So we can characterize the 5G performance. There's many different aspects of it that you want to examine. But obviously, the first part is getting, fulfilling that promise of faster speeds and low latency. And we're building all of these innovative products in his most advanced 5G testing environment in the world, right here in our home city of Chicago. You know, we have a ton of laboratories and our headquarters office in Chicago, but the 5G Labs are definitely one of the more unique places to be and just the, you know, the environment, the equipment, and the things that are happening there, such on the cutting edge, very cool to be a part of it. So what these labs, what it enabled us to do, the goal was really, we transitioned from a lab environment to a live network environment. And we did so working with all of our different partners. And we're able to transition from that emulated environment to live just because we've done so much research and work so much in the lab environment ahead of time. And that made it very seamless.
Doug Michau: Our overall, I talked about [ this in the] beginning, our first thing we want to characterize is that performance, but other things we also looked at we know are very important to consumers, is that thermal mitigation. How do you keep the device cool, even though it's transmitting at very high data rates. And even more important is that once you have this great speed, how do you keep going and keep enjoying that very high speed for a prolonged period of time. Another thing, of course, is battery life optimization. We want to make sure that even though we're downloading at high speeds, we're showcasing like live video streams on the device that you can still have, you know, multiple days of use of battery. And one last thing to also call out is that you know, 5G just doesn't help people consumers with 5G handsets, because it so optimally uses the network resources. Even those that are on LTE should see faster data download speeds as 5G gets deployed, and more and more 5G handsets are on that network.
Chris Francica: Once it became clear from all of our testing, that the network was ready to go, what was our strategy for actually getting devices connected?
Doug Michau: Absolutely. So we had the Moto Z3 device, which was fully certified and an earlier shipping product. And then we focused on putting all this 5G technology into the the Moto Mod. We were the first OEM to launch a smartphone on the 5G network, thanks to this configuration. Yeah, we get asked this question a lot, which is why do we choose to launch our first 5G device using the Moto Mods platform? And the answer, of course, is that let us move really quickly. You know, as a platform that was already existing, we could we could, as you said, focus on just 5G technology. But how exactly did that kind of prepare us for future 5G smartphones? Yeah, so this, the Moto moto itself, it allowed us to do some of the advanced 5G networks, so 5G itself and typical LTE, let me take a step back, it runs an easy about 2.5 gigahertz is the maximum frequency. But when you're talking about millimeter wave, it's running in the 24 and 39 gigahertz range. So a much, much higher, faster frequency. And we were able to put the very specialized antennas, millimeter wave modules into the device, were able to look at this maximal permissible exposure called MP. And that allows you to cut off an antenna if there was an object interfering as well. But even beyond that, again, putting this in a separate module, we were able to fully characterize that thermal in the power management performance and make sure that we fully had it optimized so that you get the best performance, especially during the inaugural launch of 5G. But then that helped us also to shape the future for our additional handsets. Let's take that one step. So So then after the Moto mod, we launched actual 5G smartphones with that antenna array you talked about built into the device. And since then, we've rolled out a number of different 5G devices, what's been our strategy for bringing out 5G smartphones? Yeah, so a while It took several years to come up with that first Moto Z and the 5G moto mod. From that point, we really hit the ground running, we came out in 2020. With our Motorola Edge Plus demonstrating some of the fastest network speeds, we quickly followed that device up with the edge that made 5G technology available to all a greater population at a lower price point. And then, since that time, we've actually offered 5G and even more accessible price points, really putting the power of 5G in more consumers hands, bringing it down to tier two, the Motorola one, for example.
Chris Francica: So let's step back outside of Motorola for just a second. 5G now has been rolling out across the world, you know, for going on two years. Where do we stand now in terms of the technology?
Doug Michau: Yeah, if you look at the whole marketplace, so Ericsson has recently come out, the study that said 69% of OEMs have launched 5G smartphones commercially. And of course, that's going to quickly continue to grow. If we look at worldwide and how the networks have been deployed, we see all over Europe and Latin. We're seeing 5G networks that are launched at the 3.5 gigahertz spectrum. And us is a little bit unique. We see it in a very low bands down to 600 megahertz. And we see it as high as of course, 39 gigahertz. So we really see networks has been deployed in multiple different fashions. If you look at it, though, a GSA report, they reported that 38 countries had 5G networks as of August of 20. And many more have had 5G technology deployed. In part, in fact, it's expected that 5Gwill reach a billion users in just three and a half years. If you take that back and look at fourth generation technology, it took four years and 3g it took 12 years to reach a billion people. So it's definitely moving a lot faster. So actually, that's actually a really good segue to our next section, which is talking about the future of 5G and what's coming next.
Chris Francica: Doug, what are some of the coolest implementations of 5G that you've seen so far?
Doug Michau: Yeah, Chris. One example is the Verizon multiview. We've seen Verizon deploy 5G at many different sporting and concert events. And what that allows you to do with the multi view is you could get the multiple views of the action that's I know on the field, no matter what you see you have, so you always get a great experience at the event. Yeah, I think that's really cool and takes advantage of all the key pieces of 5G with speed and low latency because you need that when you're at events, I guess we have a ton of people all connecting at once. So we know 5G for consumers at the moment is really all about speed, you got faster downloads, better streaming, etc. But as exciting as it is to have such a big leap forward and speed. I think the people who are actually most excited about 5G are those working in the commercial sector. So obviously, the main benefit of mobility is connectivity, you know, bringing people together, which leads me to believe that collaboration is probably going to be a key theme of these 5G applications for commercial folks.
Doug Michau: Yeah, absolutely. One such example of that is the ThinkRealityA3 glasses that Lenovo just launched at CES this year. In the past an AR VR, those head mounted displays were really heavy, because all the intelligence was in that head mounted display. And so you really couldn't wear those units for too long without feeling fatigued. But I think reality a three changes that it actually tethers to the moto g100. And then it enables that enterprise grade augmented reality solutions, you know, something you could wear all day, for example, if you're in a warehouse and you're trying to sort or find particular parts, it really makes that job much more productive. But even beyond the warehouse into the classroom, we know that over 88% of K through 12, students use a smartphone to do schoolwork at least once a week. And for those students, you can imagine that they had some AR VR type glasses, it can really help them collaborate not only with their classroom and their own teacher, perhaps classrooms all around the world.
Chris Francica: Yeah, I mean, most people think of augmented reality as a gaming application. But these visualization tools he talked about, I think, are going to be a huge help for a lot of different industries. And really, there's a ton of different use cases out there, even beyond AR and VR, like self driving cars, instant language translation, a lot of these actually can be driven just by the power of your smartphone. So when you think we'll start to see some of those types of applications coming about?
Doug Michau: Yeah, I think we're gonna see it real soon. And, for example, there's been a lot of talk about 5G and healthcare. And particularly, particularly, if you look at that communication between medical devices and the medical information systems, you really need the fast speed. I saw an interview from Professor Thomas Newman recently from Leipzig University. And he was saying that that remote diagnostics is going to be so important. You can think about, for example, the ultrasound machines. Usually hospitals have those, but they're not in remote applications, such as an ambulance, where they address life threatening conditions, but one of the sensor for an ultrasound could be in that ambulance. And over 5G can quickly transmit that data to a university or a hospital where a life saving diagnosis can be made right out on the spot. So there's definitely we're gonna see applications like that coming very quickly with 5G.
Chris Francica: Yeah, it's really exciting to hear you say that you think these will start to come quickly. I mean, as you mentioned, so many of these can have such a big impact on on things that, you know, are happening on a day to day basis. So I think we can all agree that since 2019, back in April, like we talked about earlier, 5G has made some pretty big strides around the world. But I think there's still some additional advancements being made, you know, with the C band auction with release 16 from 3Gpp. What's your take on those?
Doug Michau: Yeah, with the C band auction unit, we know that a record amount was spent in that over 81 billion and most of us carriers were awarded licenses. What you're going to see with that is that's gonna be deployed.Later this year, and that's just going to put faster 5G speed and more of consumer and commercial, you know, making that technology much more accessible. And with release 16, it's going to solve some of the pain points we see with 5G now, including even better ultra low latency, reduced power consumption on the device, which is so important that we can get a device battery life to last longer. And also it starts addressing private networks by allowing 5G as a standalone technology in the unlicensed spectrum. Say for example, the five and six gigahertz AT&T Wi Fi currently uses today. And so that allow industry to set up a private 5G network and get all those mobility benefits. Yeah, I mean, it seems like 5G has been out of the spotlight a little bit overshadowed by some of the things but there's still a ton going on more than just deploying the nodes getting the networks live. You know, there's a lot of exciting things still happening to make improvements.
Chris Francica: So we really can't finish our 5G conversation for our first episode here this week without talking to our own. In house 5G expert here at Motorola. Our special guest this week, is Mahmoud Abdul-Gafoor, also known as Mags. So Mags, welcome to the podcast.
Mahmoud Abdul-Gafoor - Mags( Motorola 5G expert): Thanks, Chris. Excited to be here talking to you about 5G.
Chris Francica: Yeah, so Mags, you really have become our go to on 5G. You know, you're you're definitely the expert, and you've got a ton of experience. Tell us a little bit about your role and helping Motorola introduce the first commercially available 5G device back in 2019.
Mags: I'd be happy to Chris. So I've been with Motorola for almost 23 years, I started the company when the transition from one g to two g was happening way back in 98 or so. So we saw the transition to 5G happening way as early as like 2015 from a product development side. And our own standards team were engaged in the 3Gpp standards. even earlier than that, I would say as far back as 2012 or so. So what we did, since we saw it coming, we made a lot of moves. For example, we as a first step, we started very closely working with our standards team. And we started thinking about what are the frequencies that are going to be used on the spectrum to the promise of one of the key promises of 5G is delivering massive throughput capability that requires a much higher frequency spectrum to be used than what have been used until then. So the millimeter wave frequency, for example. So we started doing a lot of R&D work. And we started actually doing two three specific things. In particular, we did engage with many of the leading chipset vendors and then we picked one of the chipset vendor who was leading, and we started doing early prototype with the pre commercial version of the millimeter wave chipset. For example, Qualcomm in this case, [had an] early version of what is known as the X50. Some of theindustry people may or may not know this, but pre commercial millimeter wave modules used to be a rectangular shape or two by two type of an array, which is what Qualcomm originally had. And when we did our original R&D and prototyping, we realized that that is not an ideal form factor for packaging it into a smartphone size form factor. So we were one of the early partners to Qualcomm who gave that feedback based on our prototyping. That's one major effort we did that was back around 2017 or so.
Chris Francica: It's an impressive list of accomplishments. And it sounds like obviously a really involved process, not just you know, internally with your team at Motorola, but also working together with 3Gpp with the carriers, a lot of other organizations, infrastructure providers.
Chris Francica: So, Mags, I've heard that you during, you know, while everyone was working from home, I've heard that you created an in-home 5G lab so that you could continue working, instead of going into our full labs in the office in downtown Chicago. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Mags: Yeah, so as we all know, the COVID situation really put us in a situation right, so we couldn't go to the office. And we were in the thick of the development of the second generation of 5G devices. And some of the devices require very sophisticated labs, which secure RF shielding. So what we did was brainstorm with the team on how can we do that, without access to those labs, and people working together? So we moved some of the shielded equipments and all these call boxes to basements of some of our team members. When you work in these devices, it require a complete shielding to do the test of the device at the lowest sensitivity level without any interference. But when you are operating in open air you have a few things happen where the base stations around the neighborhood are being used by people to make calls - and we cannot interfere with them. When we are doing tests, we have those in our labs as fully shielded enclosures. So when we are testing in someone's basement, we don't want people in the neighborhood's performance impacted. So we have to build our own shielded chambers very quickly. And we continued the tests that actually helped us to still launch the products without having to delay much longer than it otherwise would have been.
Chris Francica: Yeah, that's pretty impressive that you guys were able to basically simulate, you know, the capability that you had in labs, but more just in a more dispersed environment in people's basements.
Chris Francica: Before we wrap up there, we've seen across the internet, some common questions popping up around access to 5G technology. And I'd like to pose these to you and get your response to them. So just a couple of questions. So first,is 5G eventually going to completely replace 4G? What are your thoughts? …
Mags: Actually, the initial launch of 5G is actually built on top of 4G. Because there are a lot of investments made on 4G. The 4G was a full IP based network and a lot of investments have been made by operators. And there is what is known, that is called, NSA or non standalone mode, where it depends on the LTE as an anchor. And then the 5G is added as a secondary carrier group. I expect the 5G to depend on 4G for quite some time. And then there are operators launching what is known as a standalone version, starting actually sort of the end of last year, and then that is continuing later this year. And 5G will continue to evolve.
Mags: We are really at the very early stages of 5G, I would say it would take a long time because 4G has been there since 2009 timeframe, so there are probably devices still dependent on it for over a decade, the long tail of those devices to disappear will take a long time. Even though the ... growth rate of 5G has been phenomenal 5G, whatever time it took for 4G to reach a certain threshold. I don't remember the stats on top of my head now. But like within three, four years, what it took for 4G to reach 5G has reached it within a year's time or something like that the number of subscribers are the number of 5G base stations around the world. So that growth has been phenomenal. Yeah, it's an interesting point you make about you know, even though the new technology is widely available, now, people are holding on to their their smartphones for longer, so it will take some time. And then also there's you know, even beyond smartphones, there's a lot of other devices that are connected to cellular networks, tablets, smartwatches, things like that.
Chris Francica: Alright, last question here. Doug, and I earlier were talking about the recent C-Band auction and then Release 16 from 3GPP. What's your take on the status of 5G? Is it already mostly rolled out? And have we already seen the best of it? Or is there you know, is the best yet to come? Is there more coming out soon?
Mags: I think it's the latter is the best is yet to come. What we’ve already seen .. it's just scratched the surface of it. In fact, I wouldn't blame the end consumers if they start to wonder what is the difference or what's all the noise about 5G is because we are really at the very early stages of it, what consumers are starting to see or what is being launched is the one aspect o 5G, where it brings the massive throughput 10x or even 100x times, eventually, than what they were used to with LTE. There are other key features of 5G like the low latency and then massive machine type communications where everything will be connected to everything right. So those types of situations, they are yet to be deployed, you mentioned about release 16. So release 16 is the foundation for 3GPP standard and is the foundation for those features. So we expect to see those things roll out and become a transformative technology for the entire industry. So as you may have heard about, we are at the cusp of what is known as the industry 4.0 transformation, everything it is not only for consumers, the entire industries are going to be changed with artificial intelligence and big data and 5G is going to be a key enabler for that and the really 16 features like the low latency and the massive machine type communications are to be deployed. There are a lot of effort going on and obviously more or less Lenovo we have we are working on a lot of cool things. We it is too early for us to talk about that and we are working with our broader Lenovo assets like, our server teams for mobile edge computing, for example, or things like AR VR type of applications. These are all yet to come, but stay tuned. I think we will be working on those things for the near future.
Chris Francica: Well, Mags, thank you so much for your time today. It's been a pleasure to have you here on the podcast.
Chris Francica: That's all for this episode of Moto Talks. Thanks for listening and stay tuned for future episodes where we'll dive in deep on more exciting mobile topics. Also, look out for more product news from Motorola. We're always right around the corner from launching our next amazing smartphones. Until then, I'm Chris Francica, across from me is Doug Michau and we'll see you next time.