If I ask you to think of 5G, what comes to mind? I’m guessing conspiracy theories, China and ‘high speed’ may travel through your thoughts. Most people think that 5G is ‘just 4G but a little bit faster’. This is true, however, it is MUCH faster, over 100 times faster in fact. It also has ultra-low latency (think of this as eliminating the annoying delay when you are attempting to facetime your nanna) and it can support an even greater number of connected devices. From a smartphone angle, this is excellent news as it will make your insta feed load faster and will mean instantaneous Netflix downloads (WOO!). From an IoT (Internet of things) and global angle, 5G will act as a catalyst for increased connectivity and enhance the development of businesses and industry.
Current 4G LTE networks are the industry standard for much of the world and they have proven a great tool for individuals and business by allowing us to be more connected. Industry uses for these networks have been limited due to slow data transfer and capacity constraints. There are a range of different use cases where 5G technology can be used - let’s start by taking a look at autonomous vehicles. Currently, most of the technology and software used by autonomous vehicles is internalised, that is, it does not connect live with any external networks (other than GPS and radio etc). 5G would allow all vehicles within a transport network to talk to each other, having huge safety and efficiency implications as it could eliminate human error.
Although China is Orwellian in its approach to using technology, it is far ahead of the West in its uses for 5G and already demonstrating a range of applications for the technology. In Guangdong, drones that are connected and controlled by AI and 5G patrol roads and give live traffic updates to authorities. Bejing airport uses it to live track passengers journeys and their luggage and farms are even using 5G to quickly transmit data about the health of their livestock.
I’m guessing the Coronavirus crisis has forced you to take part in many Zoom calls and other online conferences, and I am also guessing you have gotten frustrated at least once due to poor connectivity issues. In theory, 5G (obviously combined with a decent camera and microphone technology) would eliminate these issues. If you combined this with the use of augmented and virtual reality there is the very real possibility that in the future you could be sitting in a virtual boardroom.
Putting aside the heated politics and controversy, 5G represents a genuine breakthrough in modern technology, rivalling the advent of the internet itself and representing the fabric that will weave everyone and everything further together.