AI & blockchain could give US ‘edge’ in 5G

An FCC commission believes AI and distributed ledger technology could hold the key for US 5G competition.
8 May 2019

5G smart mobile telephone radio network antenna base station. Source: Shutterstock.

Talk about developments in 5G (as well as AI and robotics), and perhaps one of the biggest topics of conversation would be fierce global rivalry.

More specifically, the United States and China are locked in a battle to become the first of the technology’s superpowers— the victor is set to reap the competitive first-mover advantages that come attached.

With far-flung use cases, from making autonomous vehicle and smart city technology viable, as well as making high-quality VR and movie streaming possible from mobile, it’s not difficult to see what the fuss is about.

So far, that battle has included accusations of attempted espionage through backdoors in systems, and technology development notched up to the point of attracting concerns about its real-world readiness.

As reported by MIT Technology Review, a commissioner at the US Federal Communications Commission, Jessica Rosenworcel, believes that artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology could now give the US an ‘edge’ against China when it comes to the wireless networking race.

Speaking at MIT Media Lab’s Business of Blockchain event, Rosenworcel said that AI and distributed ledger technology could cater for more flexibility in the wireless spectrum.

Currently, the wireless spectrum is divided up for different usages in a way intended to avoid interference, but the proposed solution would allow frequencies to be used interchangeably– or more efficiently.

The combination of technologies would allow devices to be assigned to different frequencies dynamically, enabling a much higher volume of devices to be connected to 5G networks at any given time, explained Rosenworcel. Distributed ledger technology would track who has access to what, while machine learning could help determine the share of the spectrum which could be allocated and when.

Rosenworcel said this better allocation of bandwidth would be crucial to the development of wireless data technology as IoT (Internet of Things) devices proliferate in the billions, explaining that a “real-time market for the wireless spectrum” driven by AI and blockchain could make this possible.

When it comes to the use of AI, Rosenworcel noted that a competition organized by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is already making ground on how the technology could be used to negotiate the spectrum. Blockchain is also in the early stages of exploration.  

Speaking on the States’ current progress with 5G, however, Rosenworcel said she was concerned the country was “not positioned to lead”, but said advances into the efficiency of spectrum allocation and use could help the US stay competitive in the long run.

“I don’t think of it as the immediate future of wireless, but it might be the far future—5 to 10 years hence,” she said.