Fiber: The Unsung Hero of CES 2019

Techies — it’s that time of year again! CES® 2019, the country’s largest consumer electronics show, kicks off today in Las Vegas. The show promises a glimpse at the futuristic gadgets that will change the way we connect, work and play over the coming years. Reporters have previewed two of the biggest CES attractions this year — 5G devices and applications and new connected “things.” Both of these rely heavily on fiber to operate quickly and smoothly, making fiber the real unsung hero of CES 2019.

5G has already taken center stage at CES 2019. According to Ericsson’s North American CEO Niklas Heuveldrop, “It’s no surprise that 5G will continue to dominate the conversations at CES.” AT&T’s CEO John Donovan will deliver the keynote address on the next generation of wireless connectivity. According to CES, Donovan will “explore the 4th Industrial Revolution,” discussing how 5G will enable a host of applications such as AR/VR and robotic manufacturing. Qualcomm will likely tout its 5G tech, including car-related innovations and the possibility of a 5G smartphone. Verizon, too, could announce its 5G plans at CES. And if that’s not enough, attendees can even hear from Cisco and Boingo about 6G.

At the end of the day, all of this 5G innovation will require a fiber backbone. The small cells required by 5G must be connected by millions of miles of new fiber optic cable and 5G providers will want transmissions “out of the air” and “into the ground” quickly using fiber networks. Simply put, there is no 5G without fiber.

Beyond the world of 5G, CES 2019 will also showcase a variety of next-generation smart home gadgets. This year, Facebook plans to publicize its Portal, a smart video-chatting tablet that incorporates Amazon’s Alexa. LG will show off its Smart Kitchen gadgets, which include a smart dishwasher and refrigerator with screen displays and a Google assistant. The company will also debut a smart at-home beer-making machine. On the entertainment side, Sony will showcase its 8K television — a $15,000 smart device with the highest resolution yet.

And this Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to continue to grow: Cisco estimates that, in three years, 81% online traffic will come from non-PC devices. But in order to take advantage of these connected devices, modern homes need access to the fastest, most reliable connectivity possible: fiber. Fiber broadband connections — more so than cable, satellite or DSL — provide the best connectivity for these many IoT devices.

As the “nerds” converge on Las Vegas to explore the future of tech, the devices and innovations that they explore will rely heavily on fiber. And as the connectivity landscape continues to evolve, fiber will remain the critical technology.