The 5G revolution is coming: a global rollout began this year with launches in the UK and US, with China due to follow shortly after. A new wireless generation has always heralded a leap forward in technology: 2G enabled voice control and texting, while 4G made widespread smartphone use possible. So how is 5G going to affect our lives?
Consumers will be quick to see the benefits of 5G. It will enable the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem to spread far more widely: from our homes to our cities to our workplaces, with everything from electric car charging points to parking meters and buses talking to each other.
“Not only will it deliver faster and enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) to consumers, it will enable hyper-connectivity between machines, people and things and boost a range of new technologies and industrial capabilities,” InterDigital Labs’ Director of 5G Standards and Systems Diana Pani told Techradar.com.
Banking and financial services to benefit
Banking and financial services could benefit too. Faster speeds and reliable connections will enable better app experiences, and allow services to be delivered more efficiently through wearables, for example, or virtual reality. AT&T suggests the example of a remote teller, which would enable customers to get personalised attention via a video session, without necessarily finding and travelling to their nearest branch.
Key to financial services will be 5G’s low latency, which will allow information – such as stock market movements, or gold prices – to be sent and received incredibly quickly. 4G averages about 100-200 milliseconds. 5G will see virtually real-time information sharing at just one millisecond or less. (Plus, this will benefit everyone who plays online games: imagine a world with no lag.)
High speeds, low latency and coverage everywhere could mean that smart vehicles – connected cars, trucks and buses can avoid crashing into each other – become a reality, writes Paolo Colella, former head of India Region, Ericsson. But it’s not just traffic systems that could improve, she says: industry and healthcare could also see massive changes. “5G will enable us to control more devices remotely in applications where real-time network performance is critical, such as remote control of heavy machinery in hazardous environments, thereby improving worker safety, and even remote surgery.”
It will open up new possibilities for innovators, too. The 451 Foresight report ‘The Coming Revolution: 5G and its Impact on IT’ says 5G will trigger a wave of innovation in applications, services and functions. Increased capacity and new functionality will enable existing businesses to operate more efficiently. But they’ll need the tools to do so. And the tech leaders of the future are also likely to come up with ways to exploit 5G that nobody’s predicted yet.
Key areas where innovation will be needed, the report predicts, are mobile technology, real-time analytics, edge-of-network data centres, and new, still-to-be-determined applications and services, such as semi-autonomous vehicles and augmented reality IoT.
Political and security concerns
But revolutions rarely run smoothly. And while 5G clearly has huge potential benefits, it also brings many concerns.
Already, it’s causing political conflict. The US government has banned the use of Chinese giant Huawei’s technology following security concerns. In the UK, following similar concerns, the government has yet to make its position on the company clear. Mobile operators are becoming increasingly worried that the delay will adversely affect the 5G rollout. Huawei maintains it is not a security threat.
Security experts say that the IoT raises lots of security issues in itself, no matter who’s providing the service. More internet-enabled devices mean more security risks. More reliance on highly-efficient systems means more problems if they are hacked. Imagine, for example, a cyberattack using autonomous vehicles.
But whatever the future brings, it’s likely to be 5G-driven – which means the time to think about what it means for you and your business is now.
Important disclaimer: this document is not an official research report and the views expressed in it are those of the authors. The authors are not registered research analysts and there is no assurance the trends mentioned will continue or that the forecasts discussed will be realised. Gold as a commodity is not a specified investment for the purpose of giving advice under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, therefore, this it does not give rise to rights to claim compensation under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.