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How laser beams can power up 5G networks

Beaming power wirelessly using laser beams has been the stuff of science fiction for decades — but Kent, Wash.-based PowerLight Technologies and Ericsson, the Swedish-based multinational telecommunications company, have shown how it can become a reality for 5G wireless service.

It may take a couple of years for PowerLight’s beamed-power system to get integrated into Ericsson’s 5G equipment, but the proof-of-concept demonstration could help usher in an age when wireless power is as widely accepted as wireless communication is today.

“The idea that Ericsson is promoting is, we now have wireless connectivity,” PowerLight CEO Richard Gustafson told GeekWire. “It’s time to cut the final cord — and that’s the power cord.”

Gustafson said PowerLight is taking a “crawl, walk, run” approach to wireless power.

“That is not to go from our proof of concept to an urban environment, but to start to work toward packaging for an environment such as disaster response or emergency response, where you’ve got to get equipment up and running quickly,” he said.

The demonstration for Ericsson was conducted at and around PowerLight’s facilities in Kent at the end of July.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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