“Living labs” are becoming more common as stakeholders realize the tangible benefits of testing technologies and solutions in situations that are as close to real life as possible. Lake Nona is a smart city near Orlando, Fla., that serves as a living, breathing laboratory for technologies and solutions like eVTOL (electric, vertical take-off and landing) jet aircraft, smart windows on commercial buildings, advanced stormwater management, smart lighting, and autonomous shuttles, among many others. It’s also a hotspot for innovation, housing a sports and health tech accelerator and now, a Verizon 5G Innovation Hub.
Since January, Verizon and Lake Nona have been partnering to bring 5G to the smart community to explore what super high-speed connectivity could do for homes and businesses. A 5G trial is already underway involving the testing of C-V2X (cellular vehicle-to-everything) technology via Beep autonomous shuttles, and now, Verizon has announced its new 5G Innovation Hub, which will open doors for Lake Nona to test 5G use cases in connected healthcare, autonomous mobility, smart communities, education, retail, health and wellness, and beyond.
With fiber infrastructure already in place, 5G is available in Lake Nona’s Medical City and Town Center, and it has been making its way into residential areas, including Laureate Park. With this new dedicated development and collaboration space, startups and established businesses will be even better able to discover new 5G applications. Local innovators will have the ability to test how super fast speeds, ultra-high bandwidth, and ultra-low latency can enhance their various applications. Additionally, the 5G Innovation Hub will showcase existing 5G use cases, and an Executive Briefing Center will provide access to Verizon leadership and subject matter experts. The hub will put 5G in the hands of Lake Nona innovators, and it will be up to them to figure out what to do with it.
5G is also being showcased in other living labs, like the Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners in Georgia. Thanks to a partnership with Sprint, companies can test 5G for free at Curiosity Lab. In this case, Sprint is offering a platform called “Curiosity IoT”, a dedicated, virtualized, distributed IoT (Internet of Things) core network capable of supporting applications that leverage AI (artificial intelligence), robotics, edge computing, autonomous vehicles, and other IoT systems.
According to Technavio, the adoption of 5G networks in smart cities is one key factor in the expected growth of the 5G market. The research firm’s latest numbers suggest the 5G equipment market will grow by more than $11 billion between 2020 and 2024. In smart city and beyond, demand for high bandwidth and low latency is driving demand for 5G. Applications like V2X and telemedicine, for instance, are playing an important role in global 5G infrastructure growth. Grand View Research valued the 5G infrastructure space at $1.9 billion in 2019 but expects it to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 106.4% from 2020 to 2027.
Thanks to smart cities and living labs that are actively investing in 5G infrastructure and offering opportunities for education, application development, and application testing around 5G, the market will continue to advance and mature. 5G applications proven in the real world will help identify hurdles, prove benefits, and develop business cases for 5G in a variety of industries.
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