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5G technology is the next big thing in the era of connectivity.
People are more connected today than ever. As existing technologies develop and newer tech comes along, the world wants to access to connectivity instantly and at break-neck speeds.
In fact, the total amount of data created in the world is expected to grow 3.5 times in the next five years, from 50.5 zettabytes (ZB) this year to 175 ZB in 2025. That’s one trillion gigabytes (GB) worth of data worldwide.
“Our brains produce enough data to stream four HD movies every second,” Facebook CEO and Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post when announcing brain-powered technology in 2017.
To allow devices to keep up, developers are constantly trying to enhance the processing capacity and velocity of human-machine interactions. One such big win for 2020 is 5G, which has been receiving a lot of attention lately, not only because of its capacity to boost mobile broadband, but also because it could digitally disrupt several industries.
5G, or 5th Generation, is the latest mobile broadband network standard to hit the market. The last was 4G LTE in 2010, which enabled mobile video and increased data speeds.
With speeds running into several GB per second, significantly lower latency (a web application’s response time) down to a few milliseconds, and a bigger network capacity and connection density, 5G is a leap forward in connectivity, with massive Internet of Things (IoT) and mission critical control benefits.
5G is currently available only in a few countries, including South Korea, the U.S., and Australia, with limited deployment, but is estimated to cover 65% of mobile subscriptions worldwide. However, industries are expected to benefit far more from 5G connectivity, especially with the consistent increase in cloud deployment worldwide.
Here are five such industries that are expected to benefit most from 5G networks and drive its adoption curve upward.
The impact of 5G on manufacturing
Industrial companies can benefit immensely from increased and faster connectivity, data analytics in real-time, and enhanced automation and IoT capacity in factories, making processes more efficient while cutting back on time and costs.
Smart factories, in particular, are the next big thing in the manufacturing segment, and a disruption unlike anything seen since the Industrial Revolution.
In fact, the ground has already been laid for 5G, from using robots to improve warehousing, to automating workflows between workers and machines, to the emergence of ‘lights-out manufacturing’ or even fully automated dark factories that require no human involvement.
5G technology pushing the accelerator on the automotive industry
While the world waits with bated breath for the autonomous vehicle industry to deliver on its overdue revolution, 5G may provide interim relief with a smaller offer that has wide-scale applications.
By facilitating vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and data collection and processing of an entire geographical area, 5G can benefit the automotive sector by not only providing a leg up for autonomous or electric vehicles, but also attending to more critical aspects of urban transport such as traffic management.
This will likely lead to increased capacity in road safety management, lower daily commute time, and better driver assistance systems.
Using 5G in healthcare
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown just how critical healthcare services are to the world, and what can happen if not enough attention – in terms of tech innovation, resources, and preparation – is provided to a critical service.
While telemedicine and digital therapeutics startups can expect an inflow of deals as a corollary of the Covid-19 pandemic, more uncommon health technologies such as telesurgery or spatial computing in healthcare may also be enabled by 5G.
Additionally, 5G can also enhance individual-centric technologies such as real-time health data analytics or multi-vital health monitoring wearables.
5G technology will take entertainment to the next level
Speed is the name of the game in today’s video-driven entertainment and media climate. People spend about three hours daily only consuming online content, with the Internet set to eclipse traditional television as the primary source of entertainment for people worldwide.
While social media such as TikTok has demonstrated that video is the way to go, consumers would rather swipe to something else than wait for content that is buffering. Additionally, increasing subscriptions in the over-the-top (OTT) platforms segment shows that consumers want to be entertained in high-definition through their devices.
Growing interest in immersive gaming further means that consumer broadband will need to support data-heavy simulation technologies such as augmented reality or virtual reality to satiate demand.
Energy usage will be revolutionized by 5G
Energy is another critical sector expected to be impacted by 5G coverage, from forecasting and access, to distribution and usage management.
5G offers the potential for enhanced smart grid features to manage energy needs, and enabling companies to increase energy efficiency and remote access through IoT technology. Thus, one of 5G’s bigger energy benefits is efficient energy distribution.
Additionally, by powering big data analytics, 5G can also help authorities manage spending on energy needs and efficient allocation that reduces wastage with interruptions, helping reduce energy consumption and costs.
The list does not end here. 5G has expanded application prospects in financial services, retail, smart city infrastructure and even agriculture, to name a few. However, the adoption of 5G isn’t easy on the pockets, potentially alienating consumers or enterprises unwilling to shell out more money for better Internet.
The network also demands an infrastructural upgrade, requiring more cell towers and compatible devices, adding to its costs of adoption. This also points to a larger health concern doing the rounds about the subsequent increase in exposure to radio-frequency radiation.
The increased connectivity also calls for more security and privacy protection measures for cell towers, particularly in terms of tackling fake cell towers or tightening up methods of authentication on interconnected networks.
However, as networks have evolved from the first generation, which powered analog voice, to 2G which introduced digital voice, followed by mobile data with 3G, and finally 4G mobile broadband, 5G is the obvious next step in wireless network technology.
Large-scale adoption of 5G will be the true test that tells just how much the network standard can deliver on its promises. It is, however, a strong sign of a world moving towards real-time digital connectivity at full speed.
Header image by Tony Stoddard on Unsplash