Yes, 5G revolution is here and it is going to change your customers’ lives and yours in more ways than you can imagine.
What is it?
According to Wikipedia, 5G is the latest generation of cellular mobile communications. It succeeds the 4G, 3G and 2G systems. 5G performance targets high data rate, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity, and massive device connectivity. 5G is a supercharged wireless network that supports speeds data download speeds in the range of 10-20 GBPS. Though it sounds like an oxy-moron, it is equivalent of a wireless fiber optic internet connection. To put that into context, 5G is touted to support speeds of 100x faster than 4G/LTE networks.
Firstly, why is it needed?
Turns out, it’s not an option you have. Just like floppy disks made way to CDs which in turn made way to flash drives, this is market driving innovation. Nothing as such, is wrong with the 4G/LTE networks which have been delivering videos, music, games and other content faster and cheaper than ever in the recent years. Just that 5G is a better version of 4G. As adoption increases, 5G will not only be faster and more reliable but also cheaper and sustainable. 5G is basically the old making way for the new.
Secondly, it's already here!
You are wrong if you think use-cases for 5G are still being formulated, let alone apps and services created to leverage 5G.
According to a survey, millions of people are ready to embrace 5G. According to Gartner, globally there are 23 networks, as of today with some form of live 5G in their commercial networks.
Talking of the big boys, Apple is releasing a 5G phone next year. Samsung has already launched its 5G device Samsung Galaxy Fold. Several Android devices like Huawei’s foldable tablet Mate X, and Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3 are already in the market.
So, here are 5 ways in which 5G is going to change the world and everything in it.
- Need for speed
While 4G is already blazing-fast providing you XYZ mbps speed this is just half the story, called the bandwidth. The other half that 5G is the latency, which simply put is how long it takes for two devices to speak to one another. For example, how many times have you faced “buffering-issues” while watching your cat videos, even though you have a broadband connection? The culprit is latency. While 4G connections, have a latency of 30 milliseconds to 60 milliseconds, 5G brings it down dramatically to 4 milliseconds. Get ready to hear things like bandwidth and latency more and more in your meetings.
What this means for you is there will be better and more innovative use-cases such as AR/VR, 360-degree immersive experiences that you can provide your users. If you are an e-commerce company, you could make your customer walk down a virtual aisle along with their virtual-cart or make them virtually try out their clothes before they purchase it. Yes, the possibilities are immense.
This is also a huge market opportunity for AR/VR companies/products which have stagnated in growth because of network issues. Wearable tech which couldn’t really take-off (apart from fitness trackers and smart watches) after the demise of Google Glass will also see a huge uptick in innovation with both large and small companies vying to be on the customer’s body – quite literally! The most valuable real estate in the future could be our bodies!
- Always On
According to Ericsson, an estimated 29 billion connected devices will be in play by 2021. The 5G infrastructure can manage more than 10 times the number of connections compared to 4G. This means that 5G will make Internet of Things – the all connected web of devices – a reality faster and at a larger scale - more people and more devices. You will always be online, immersed and interacting with your devices. One day you might wake up to see that your phone is brushing your teeth and your car is baby-sitting your kids. Jokes apart, with the power of 5G the user experiences will move closer to real world experiences, more than they ever were and hence keep the users hooked to tech 24X7, 365 days.
- Smart everything
Smart cities, smart homes, smart cars, smart everything. Beyond gaming and entertainment applications, 5G combined with IoT and AI will bring changes in all walks of life. Self-driving cars connected to a central traffic control system constantly talking to each other, connected roads and better infrastructure would mean that 1000s of lives will be saved. Time saved in traffic would increase the productivity of humans all over which would save billions of dollars for companies. This is in addition billions of dollars unlocked by innovation.
Agriculture will become more efficient better weather tracking, drones and timely advice on application of farm inputs, all made possible through better connectivity. From education to medication, everything will become better. All of this would mean improved quality of life, more inclusive communities and a sustainable planet.
- Business models
More services will be embedded in the products you buy and vice versa as companies will look to make 5G tech as appeasing and economic as possible. Instead of five or six different bills for different services, there will be one bill which will charge you for everything. This bundling of services has started already with 4G with customers being billed for their favorite streaming service by the mobile service provider.
Other innovative business models like network slicing will become a common place. Network slicing allots users a virtual piece of the network with personalized properties for to meet the specific needs of applications, services, devices, customers or operators. For example, an autonomous car will rely on one part of the network while a video being streamed in the same car relies on another part.
- Data – the digital currency
Data is digital currency and this currency is going to be created more abundantly with increased and better connectivity. Organizations need to upgrade their data management strategies to pull actionable, on-the fly insights from the billions of datapoints that will be generated. Businesses will eliminate a lot of server, storage and network hardware from their data centres and move to the cloud to concentrate on making better business decisions powered by this data. As a result, there will be an explosion of IaaS companies.
Over the next ten years 4G will phase out and 5G will take its place. Companies who are willing to make a mix of technologically oriented, data-driven business decisions are likely to take a big share of the 5G pie. Are you one of them?