Though many of you reading this story might be accustomed to seeing the 5G icon on your smartphone or tablet, the rollout of this technology is still somewhat in its infancy, and it’s easy to get complacent about its impact since we’ve been talking about it for so long.
The 5G Revolution has Barely Begun
It’s time to remind ourselves that 5G is a transformational tech, and we’ve barely begun to experience its benefits.
5G wireless networks promise speeds that are at least 10 times faster than existing 4G networks (Verizon claims for their network it’s 20 times faster) and latency that’s more than halved, from 4G’s average 20-30 milliseconds to below 10.
The 5G sustainability benefits are enormous as well: a recent study (telecompetitor dotcomstudy) showed that 5G networks are up to 90% more energy-efficient than 4G, which was attributed mainly to how technologists and manufacturers design and produce hardware and software today with a greater emphasis on efficiency.
Faster gaming, streaming and interactivity.
Consumers will see faster gaming, movie streaming, and interactivity using wearables and smartphones for everything ranging from transactions to health. Autonomous driving and industrial automation will use it to communicate faster and more efficiently, thereby delivering safety and performance benefits. Cities will rely on it for better integration between infrastructure, buildings, and roads.
5G mobile internet connectivity will be a huge leap forward in terms of increased speed, greater capacity, and reduced latency. It could deliver a $2 trillion boost to global GDP by 2030 in health care, manufacturing, transport and retail alone.
To power the millions of projected additional cellular base stations necessary to support this next-gen level of connectivity around the world, we will need to do three things: Amplify signals to higher frequencies than previous generations of cellular, do it while using less energy, and operate within the same footprint (i.e., existing 4G towers will be upgraded when available and possible).
Though there are forecasts for 5G networks to triple this year and reach 3.6 billion users in 2025, only a third of the world’s countries have access to 5G today. It’s helpful to review the key components that are still being developed, refined or iterated, and which are driving this roll-out.
First, Power Amplifiers (or base stations). In the signal chain of a cellular base station, the PA sits between the transmitter and the antenna and takes a low-level RF signal coming from the transmitter and boosts its power to the level required by the antenna. 5G needs more of them for faster speeds and greater coverage.
Several new base station architectures are being deployed, including enhanced macro base stations and remote radio heads, small cells, and a new generation of active antenna solutions (mMIMO systems or massive multiple-input, multiple-output antennas).
Second, RF. Radio Frequency or radio waves are transmitted and received between devices and base stations through mobile networks of all generations, including 5G.
Radio Frequency electromagnetic fields use a range of frequencies that are lower than microwaves and used to “carry” information over long distances. RF is normally applied to frequencies up to 1 GHz, above which frequencies are called “microwaves,” then “millimeter waves,” “infrared,” and “light.”
Third, “Other” Frequencies. New frequencies have been put to work with each generation of mobile broadband, with 5G claiming more bandwidth than its predecessors. 5G’s speed will rely heavily on its use of higher radio frequencies. The FCC has recently made it a priority to auction vast amounts of high-band spectrum, while also providing additional and improved mid-band, low-band, and unlicensed bands.
Fourth, GaN. GaN technology, or gallium nitride, is a compound with semiconductor properties beneficial in higher power situations such as 5G. GaN semiconductors offer benefits such as higher temperature limits, greater power handling capabilities, and faster switching speeds.
GaN outperforms other semiconductor technologies in RF applications for power-hungry applications such as those required to transmit signals over long distances or at high-end power levels (such as base transceiver stations).
GaN is so essential to the 5G buildout that we recently opened a GaN fabrication facility in Arizona that is the most advanced facility dedicated to semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S.
Fifth, LDMOS. This semiconductor is used in amplifiers, including those powered by microwaves, RF power and audio power.
In contrast to GaN, it can be cheaper, and it’s a fully matured solution (i.e., tested over more time) for high power applications requiring operation in lower spectrums. The decision between using LDMOS or GaN technology is a consideration of performance trade-offs and cost.
LDMOS is expected that the cost of GaN will reduce with wider industry adoption in combination with technological advancements.
Sixth, SiGe. Silicon-Germanium (SiGe) is a semiconductor technology that offers the high-speed, high-frequency performance of wireless applications. It is also low cost and highly reliable, and able to reduce the size and power needs of WiFi and cellular phones.
It also provides the potential for integrating analog, RF, and digital functions on a single integrated circuit and strongly complements GaN and LDMOS technologies.
As you can see, the road to full implementation of 5G worldwide is still in its early days and will involve significant additional innovation and commitment. The promise is clear, as are the requirements to achieve it.
The revolution has barely begun.
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Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending
London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.
According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.
The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:
“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”
The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:
“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”
The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.
The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.
Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!
Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs
As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.
Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI
In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.
According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.
One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.
To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.
Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.
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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations
As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.
Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation
To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.
The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.
Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!