(TNS) — Businesses along the Interstate 88 corridor through Naperville, Ill., could tap into the faster data speeds of fifth generation technology in the next year if leaders can convince a mobile cellular company to bring 5G service to the area.
A concept is being floated by Naperville-based high-tech incubator Hub88 to install equipment on light poles along the I-88 tollway from Oak Brook to Aurora that would carry the cell service to businesses within a half mile of the roadway. Hub88 is working with a business council in Peoria to develop a similar infrastructure there.
Such an effort could help Illinois become a leader in robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, autonomous vehicles and drone technology, says Glenn Luckinbill, a Hub88 founder whose business relies on 5G technologies.
Why so many cities want 5G relates to the Internet of Things (IoT), the explosive use smart devices and things directly connected to the Internet.
For the average person, IoT might mean opening an app to change the temperature on the thermostat before arriving home, track a package or monitor home security cameras. Or it’s getting an alert from a smart refrigerator when the milk has expired and a notice that the refrigerator has ordered a new gallon from a grocery store.
With 5G, companies are looking to expand beyond basic appliances and fitness monitors to develop applications and devices that can send and receive massive amounts of data in an instant, which is exactly what 5G can provide, said Michael Kinnavy, head of small cell research and development at Nokia in Naperville. His company is developing the infrastructure by which cell companies can run their services.
Much of the buzz of 5G, he said, is latency, the time it takes for a device to communicate with the cloud or a server to retrieve information. With 5G it’s one millisecond, compared to 50 milliseconds for 4G.
Luckinbill said with one millisecond latency, fans can stream their favorite sports live on mobile device or a doctor can perform robotic surgery on a patient thousands of miles away.
And lower latency is critical for the robots Luckinbill’s company Swarm Robotix is designing to move containers around shipping yards.
After a shipping container arrives at a port, four Swarm robots — one for each corner — would be dispatched to where the container is offloaded. The robots have the ability to lift and wheel the container to another location. They also can hoist the container onto a truck.
Aditya Bawankule, a Naperville student attending the University of Illinois and interning with Swarm this summer, said 5G technology allows the robots to intercommunicate without having to bounce their signals first to cell tower.
Fellow Swarm intern Saumya Gupta, an electrical engineering major at the Illinois Institute of Technology, said timing is critical. When lifting a container, the robots need to talk so they all lift at once.
At the moment, Swarm Robotix is partnering with Nokia Naperville for testing the robots.
With much of the consumer IoT being developed on the East and West coasts, Luckinbill said he envisions Illinois becoming the leader in industrial IoT, especially if I-88 and Peoria can land an early 5G network.
“Having a place where everyone can work together is needed,” Luckinbill said. “5G is just one element of it.”
Peoria-based Caterpillar was a forerunner creating autonomous vehicles for the mining industry, Randon Gettys, director of Startup GP at Greater Peoria Economic Development Council.
He said startups are cropping up around the Peoria related to autonomous vehicle systems, machine vision and artificial intelligence, and agriculture related technology, which all will be dependent on the new technology.
“5G positions towns like Peoria at the forefront of research and development,” Gettys said.
Hub88 and Peoria say they’ll partner with Nokia to provide the infrastructure for a 5G system, but what they need is a carrier, and so far neither town is among carrier’s test market locations.
“As far as 5G goes, Verizon will announce 5G service in three to five cities in 2018. We have already announced Sacramento and Los Angeles,” said Andy Choi, public relations manager for the company’s Great Lakes market.
He said last year Verizon conducted trials in 11 markets.
“But at this time, we are not ready to publicly announce the names of any future cities just yet,” Choi said.
Phil Hayes, senior public relations manager for AT&T, said his company is planning on deploying mobile 5G in a dozen cities this year.
“So far, we’ve announced Dallas, Atlanta and Waco (Texas) and will announce more cities in the coming weeks,” Hayes said.
In May Sprint announced it would bring 5G to New York City, Phoenix and Kansas City in addition to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and T-Mobile at the beginning of the year said it would roll out 5G in 30 cities in the coming year with New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Las Vegas slated among the first.
Naperville government and business leaders say they’re prepared whenever it does happen.
Jeff Anderson, the city’s director of information technology, said the city looked at best practices and changed outdated ordinances May to remove any hurdles cell carrier might experience.
“We want to be ready,” he said.
Colin Dalough, director of government affairs and business development for the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, said bringing 5G to the city would be a benefit for the business community and help draw in new businesses.
©2018 the Naperville Sun (Naperville, Ill.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.