Alphawave pioneered solutions that overcome the most difficult challenges facing critical, existing industries – such as data centers, data networking, 5G wireless infrastructure, and solid-state storage – allowing them to operate at the highest levels. Now, the company is poised to power some of the most exciting, emerging industries on the horizon including three areas in particular: artificial intelligence, 5G, and autonomous vehicles. The ins and outs of connectivity, especially as they pertain to these technologies, are not well understood and often left out of the spotlight. The electrical and fiber-optic cabling, the hardware controlling memory storage, and everything else needed to move data from one point to another, without errors and in a tiny fraction of a second, deserve recognition for their role in powering future technologies.
This article provides a general overview of connectivity while mapping its interplay with these three emerging technologies now and into the future.
TECHNOLOGIES SHAPING THE FUTURE
The field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), including machine learning (ML), is growing rapidly with increasing implementation in every industry. AI funding in 2021 reached a record $66.8B, which was a 108% increase over $32.1B in 2020. A total of 65 AI startups achieved unicorn status in 2021 – up 442% from the previous year. AI in healthcare accounted for nearly a fifth of total funding, while solution providers for industry-agnostic data science, AI Ops, and RPA dominated the top 10 funding rounds.
While most companies have recognized AI’s potential, a majority of business and technology leaders believe that investment and deployment of the technology will only grow in the future. As AI becomes ever more integral to data processing and computing functions, it will eventually become an essential component of new technologies and networks, such as the Metaverse. This has already spurred a race for faster and more powerful AI supercomputers that are reshaping the structure of data centers.
High Speed 5G
5G has been touted as a gamechanger for connectivity by bringing high-speed bandwidth to personal and IT devices, autonomous vehicles, and more. Compared to 4G, the new 5G networks can have more than 10x speeds and much lower latency. This opens the door for more data-intensive mobile apps, more IoT devices, faster video streaming, and much more.
Telecommunications companies have poured hundreds of billions of dollars into new equipment, software, and wireless licenses to build new infrastructure to support 5G. More device options for consumers and enterprises have been released with support for 5G over the past few years.
The process of the rollout, however, has faced multiple challenges from the component supply chain to conflicts with existing technologies and infrastructure. Despite having been available for several years, 5G is still in the midst of its implementation in the U.S with no clear timeline for being fully deployed. While consumers now have access to the necessary hardware, widespread 5G coverage remains out of reach.
Over the next decade, telecom service providers and companies will continue the development of 5G technology, bringing even greater speeds to its users. Because 5G comprises a collection of technologies that offer improved performance on their own and in combination, new infrastructure will be continuously built and updated introducing further performance improvements.
The future 5.5G networks in development could enable speeds of 10 Gbit/s and up, which will require an overhaul of existing connectivity technologies. While this is happening, the number of base stations across the U.S will increase exponentially to broaden coverage.
Continuous development and implementation are expected to continue even beyond the introduction of 6G or the next network standard.
Most major automakers are pouring funding into the development of autonomous self-driving capabilities as in-house projects or as partnerships. AV tech companies have raised over $12B in 2021, with market leaders Cruise raising $2.8 billion in 2021 and Waymo raising$2.5 billion to lead the charge.
Some reports suggest that the global AV market could reach $64.9B by 2026. In hopes of being the first in a booming market, companies are looking to make technological innovations in sensors, data storage, processing, and more to enable fully autonomous driving that does not require human input (level 4 and level 5 autonomous driving).
The complexity of self-driving, however, continues to put full autonomous driving out of reach. So far, companies have only been able to deploy level 3 self-driving – where the driver must be prepared to take over – in some situations and it remains a work in progress.
Autonomous vehicles will continue development, but progress will likely be at a steady pace rather than via major breakthroughs. Governments and companies will also explore the creation of smart city infrastructure, such as roads that can provide distance data to cars.
The deployment of autonomous vehicles will permit the accumulation of vast stores of real-world sensor stores that can accelerate the pace of progress. The amount of data processing required will result in cars that are mini data centers that will leverage new technologies, such as AI computing, 5G or even 6G, and more.
THE INTERPLAY WITH CONNECTIVITY
Anywhere there’s computing, there is a need for connectivity. As the world grapples with the exponential growth of data, connectivity plays a major role in enabling data to travel faster, more reliably, and more securely to advance the future of 5G networking, AI, autonomous vehicles, and other technologies.
To learn about the future of connectivity and the challenges that we have yet to solve, download the full report below.