The benefits that 5G promises, like lower latency and faster download speeds, have the potential to fundamentally change how we live and work. Just imagine what could be possible with the ultrafast throughputs (up to 20 GB/S) and incredible bandwidth that 5G will deliver directly to the pockets of Americans.

The transformative potential of this connectivity is immense. Today, everything from how cities treat wastewater to how our warfighters maintain battlefield dominance depends on relaying increasing amounts of data in less and less time. Access to previously unheard-of throughputs and bandwidth will enable innovative technology companies to push the envelope further, redefining possibilities in artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality, virtual reality and smart cities, just to name a few.

With this opportunity on the horizon, the Washington Technology Showcase will bring together two experts, Sanyogita Shamsunder, PhD, Vice President, 5G Ecosystems and Innovation at Verizon; and Kurt Shenk, Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Senior Analyst and Senior Manager at RSM, to discuss the promises of 5G technology. 

Mr. Shenk primarily works with high-growth emerging technology companies from an audit perspective.  His clients are typically middle market technology companies backed by venture capital or private equity. Dr. Shamsunder leads 5G network planning and innovation at Verizon. She has directed and managed teams in all areas of the wireless business.

To get a better sense of the stakes, we recently sat down with Mr. Shenk to explore the topic:

Corporate Growth, Capital Style (CGCS): What is 5G?  Why is it such a promising business opportunity?

Kurt Shenk

Kurt Shenk: 5G is essentially wireless technology that, in a nutshell, has lower latency and higher download speeds to enable more use cases from a technology perspective.

Companies like Verizon are deploying 5G in various cities, but it is in the early stages of what we think is a long wave of investment, both by telecommunications companies and the broader technology community as they learn how to best deploy this new generation of wireless technology. Carriers are currently getting the infrastructure in place for what could bring exciting technology use cases into the DC ecosystem and across the country.  Lots of industries will benefit from 5G.

CGCS: And you say we’re just at the starting stages of 5G, so the full potential is yet to be realized?

Kurt Shenk: Correct. We’re engaging our clients to discuss how the customer experience could evolve as a result of 5G.  We think that the investment cycle will peak in the next four to five years.

A lot of investments are taking place right now by the large carriers. At this time, there isn’t wireless technology contemplated beyond 5G.  Faster download speeds are going to enable technologies like AR, VR and smart cities, while revolutionizing industries like transportation, health care, and manufacturing.

CGCS: Why is Verizon’s foray into 5G so interesting?

Kurt Shenk: As a whole, Verizon is looking to be a leader in this space. They were leaders in 4G deployment, and the 5G deployment seems like it’s coming along nicely.

In October, I was at a Verizon Experience Center for 5G. These centers are really neat because you can get an idea of what you can do with 5G.  It’s easy enough to talk about use cases, but they actually had drones there; they had virtual reality headsets and they had a live demo of what a smart city could look like in the future. So Verizon is doing a nice job of helping the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) community understand the benefits of 5G.

One of the things they made us aware of during one of the sessions was something they’re doing called 5G Labs. In some larger markets, like New York, they’re actually inviting the ecosystem into their offices and creating an incubator for how best to leverage 5G wireless technology.

Verizon has a venture capital arm that’s investing in 5G.  They’re really making an effort to get out into the tech community, specifically talking about ways that they can all work together. I think the insights I received in those meetings would be similar to what the audience would be receiving in early December. 

CGCS: What about yourself?  How does the 5G revolution impact you and your work?

Kurt Shenk: With technology advancing so quickly, RSM is helping our customers think about where the puck’s going.  5G is a part of that for some of the B2B and B2C technology companies that I work with.

As a TMT analyst for the firm, and I have the opportunity to travel to our priority markets—DC, New York, Boston, Minneapolis, and the Bay Area.  I’m afforded time in that role to study the industry, and I recently wrote an article that reflects some thoughts on 5G.

CGCS: With that coast-to-coast knowledge of the tech industry, what about the National Capital area makes it such a good place to be a middle market tech company?

Kurt Shenk: I think it’s an exciting time for DC tech.  I believe events like Amazon’s HQ2 will continue to develop the technology community locally. Amazon chose this area for a number of different reasons.  One of those is access to highly skilled technology professionals, and in today’s landscape, this labor topic is a key priority, and really can be a challenge for a lot of companies.  For instance, it’s often the case when a technology company is experiencing significant amounts of growth, it can be challenging to hire fast enough to sustain significant levels of growth. 

I think the access to technology talent here in the DMV is fantastic.  There’s Virginia Tech, for example, that’s committed to a billion-dollar facility in northern Virginia, and a lot of that is going to be tech-focused individuals, which will be great for the DC tech companies.

CGCS: Since you’ll be staying throughout the whole event, what else are you interested in seeing that morning?

Kurt Shenk: It’s a nice lineup! I’ll definitely be sticking around for the Innovative Insights talk with Mikel Rodriguez.  I always enjoy hearing what’s hot in DC tech.

For addition information about the Washington Technology Showcase, click HERE.