Chinese electronics giant Huawei launched an open 5G lab in downtown Seoul on May 30.
In a statement marking the launch, Huawei Korea said, “Based on the philosophy of ‘In Korea and for Korea’ and the strength of its own 5G network, Huawei will build a 5G ecosystem through cooperation with a number of South Korean ICT companies and especially small-and-medium enterprises.”
The lab gives Huawei’s Korean partners a space to test 5G networks and verify environments. It also aims to promote the use of 5G networks and help Korean companies incubate new services. In particular, the lab was designed with four industrial scenarios in mind: cloud VR/AR, connected vehicles, robots and intelligent manufacturing.
So what does this have to do with blockchain?
But the advent of the 5G era does portend big things for blockchain technology. This most cutting-edge of wireless networks could spark the true start of the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Sean Harrington, vice president of City Solutions for the Smart Communities team at Verizon, writes:
“The arrival of 5G — the next generation of wireless networks — unleashes an opportunity for smart cities to take full advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where everything that can be connected will be and the full force of transformative technologies like artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles will permeate where we live, work and play.
What 5G delivers that 4G and earlier networks cannot are the blazing speeds and ultra-low latencies (data transfer delays) that allow massive amounts of data to be relayed between connected devices, systems, and infrastructure in near real time. In other words, 5G enables the super-fast response and data analysis that can allow driverless cars, cloud-connected traffic control, and other sensor-laden smart city applications to truly thrive.”
In particular, 5G provides the high speed, capacity and low latency that enables the Internet of Things (IoT) — a hyperconnected world of everyday physical objects in constant communication with one another through wireless networks — to do its magic.
And it’s here, with the IoT, that 5G might provide blockchain its biggest window for mass adoption. The IoT offers many benefits and opportunities, but with everything including your toaster on the ‘net, it also presents a security nightmare. How do you let so many devices communicate and interact with one another without a trusted third party having to certify each and every transaction?
Blockchain provides a solution by enabling trustless transactions, allowing devices to communicate securely with one another sans third-party intervention. Blockchain brings other things to the table that could make the IoT safer and cheaper, too, including smart contracts, immutability and micropayments.
While blockchain has much to offer the IoT, the IoT and 5G could also make blockchain better too, launching a virtuous circle. From Cointelegraph:
“As foundational layers, blockchains can provide consensus and security while the majority of IoT transactions and contracts occur on second-layer networks, with the opportunity to settle payment channels and transaction disputes on-chain. The network capacity of IoT, however, will be enabled by the power of 5G coverage.
Furthermore, 5G will directly assist blockchains by increasing node participation and decentralization, as well as allowing for shorter block times, driving forward on-chain scalability — all of which, in turn, further supports the IoT economy.”
Korea is already well placed to be a global leader in 5G. SK Telecom launched the world’s first commercial 5G network in April, followed soon after by KT and LG Uplus. In a single month, the three providers had signed up 260,000 subscribers — not a bad start. Samsung is already the world’s leading provider of 5G equipment and may benefit further from U.S. action against its competitor, Huawei.
“The lab in South Korea is Huawei’s first open 5G services development centre in the world that will allow other companies to test their platforms, according to the company.”
Could Korea’s head start in 5G yield benefits to Korea-based blockchain companies, too? Let’s wait and see.