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5G is the Biggest Thing Since Electricity - Qualcomm

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Qualcomm is buzzing about 5G as the key to our future connectivity.

Qualcomm says it will change society in ways we haven't seen since the introduction of electricity.

For anyone who thinks 5G is just an iteration after 3G and 4G, Qualcomm CEO Stephen Mollenkopf spent his keynote outlining why the next generation of mobile connectivity is about so much more than faster 4K Netflix streaming on your phone.

Think of it this way: If 3G ushered in the picture era and 4G was about video, 5G will be about tying our entire world together. What will we get? Live-streaming VR, autonomous cars that respond to real-time conditions, and connected cities where everything from the houses to the street lamps talk to each other.

"5G will be a new kind of network, supporting a vast diversity of devices with unprecedented scale, speed and complexity," Mollenkopf said at the packed keynote.

"5G will have an impact similar to the introduction of electricity or the automobile, affecting entire economies and benefiting entire societies."

Those are big words from a maker of small chips, but it was in keeping with the grandiose nature of the whole keynote. The show opened with a video that was almost too hipster; it called computing pioneer Grace Hopper "gangster" and dubbed necessity the "baby mama" of invention.

The connected future, of course, is all about thinking big. And Qualcomm had big ideas in big supply.

As far as Qualcomm sees it, our hyper-connected future will be about three key things: VR, the internet of things and connectivity for mission-critical tasks like autonomous cars and health care.

Next-gen 5G is certainly fast, so yes, you'll be able to download a 4K feature film in 18 seconds. But there's something else about 5G: crazy low latency. Sure, that doesn't sound sexy, but with latency as low as 1 millisecond, real-time VR and autonomous cars can become part of everyday life.

On the VR front, the company once again showed off its new Snapdragon 835 chip, first unveiled on CES press day. The chip will allow Qualcomm's manufacturing partners to make smaller and lighter devices and offer more processing power.

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