Sundeep Rangan discusses 4G, 5G and beyond

Featured as a guest in this Sciencei podcast episode, Sundeep Rangan, associate director of NYU WIRELESS, talks past and future wireless technology and how his background in industry shapes his vision of what's coming.

The research focus for the former director of engineering at Qualcomm is 5G, but Rangan pointed out in the podcast that there are challenges to extensive consumer adoption, not the least of which is a paucity of end-user apps for connected mobile devices.

“Right now 4G networks deliver really good service, so a lot of people are not fundamentally in need of significantly higher data rates, and that means, at least for consumers, there is not an obvious business case for 5G for current applications,” he said. “New applications like mobile VR and AR could change that, as you would need extremely high data rates to enable them on mobile devices.”

Need drives adoption of technological advances, so “build it and they will come” might work for baseball fields but not for technology. Wireless is no different, per Rangan.

“For 4G, a big turning point was the iPhone, which gave people a platform at their fingertips from which they could access the web," he said. "This created a huge market and appetite for much more data, subsequently driving a lot of development in enabling more data delivery wirelessly.”

Nowadays, he added, 5G is waiting for next killer app, which may not be driven by the mass market device at all, but by commercial requirements, such as industrial robotics, a collaborative focus area at NYU WIRELESS, along with security and resiliency of 5G networks. 

According to Rangan the variety of research foci at the Center is leading to discovery of ways to achieve a variety of uses cases. 

“We have about 15 faculty members at the center, and that’s super interesting because it’s a very diverse group Including people who are developing ways of applying wireless technology to things like telemedicine, machine vision, security, drones, the physical layer, and more," he said.

"What's more important than the name or number of next-generation wireless systems is what that technology will be shaped by. With 5G we've been focused on data rates, but w/ 6G it may be something else, like lower power consumption, and the security & resiliency of data & wireless infrastructure."