In addition to prioritizing packets and using low-latency radios, 5G networks should be able to communicate the service levels for different traffic types to the clouds that will run the applications, Ewaldsson said. That calls for software-defined networking, an emerging set of technologies that shifts control away from traditional routers and switches and into software running on various platforms.
If all this work makes smarter cars sound like an impossible dream, Ewaldsson did say some elements of 5G would be implemented sooner than others. In addition, there is a parallel development track in the industry pursuing the same results without network assistance, he said, though he thinks everything disconnected eventually will hook up to the network.
Ewaldsson defended the lengthy process of completing global telecommunications standards.
"That model has been very successful. It has globalized technology faster than the super-competitive model, if you compare it to the IT industry," he said. The alternative can create "redundant" innovation by competing companies that each try to make their approach dominant through their weight in the market, he said.