A Portuguese company, Veniam, with premises also in the Silicon Valley, is providing mesh connectivity among vehicles to provide a large WiFi coverage.
They have recently moved from the concept of Internet deployed through moving vehicles to real service by equipping 608 (at the time I am writing this post) vehicles in the city of Porto, Portugal, with their NetRider, a box that by connecting with other boxes creates a WiFi mesh network.
The boxes are installed on Ports's public buses and taxis and are serving over 70,000 people a day. Based on their measurement, their meshed network covers 50 to 80% of these customers access to the Internet, access they would have had otherwise obtained through the cellular radio network.
Interestingly, this mobile and ever changing mesh network, see the clip, could also be used to harvest data from sensors around the city thus drastically decreasing the cost of Internet of Things deployment.
These are, I feel, really the networks of the future, built bottom up and seamlessly getting integrated with the big backbones. In my view this is what the 5G is all about, and this is also why it will be difficult to set a deployment, activation date for it. It will just happen in a seamless way... and it will be there before we even realise it.
Conceptually, I think I am already using the "5G" as my cell phone automatically select a wifi area as it becomes available and then switch the access to a cell network and then again to my home network, all without me being aware of it.
This is an area that is seamlessly overlapping the Urban Life and Mobility, Smart Spaces and Future Network Solutions in out EIT ICT Labs portfolio of activities. I am looking forward to seeing these threads creating a fabric in the next few years.