Once 5G is fully deployed, the way we live and work will be radically transformed. Individuals accustomed to accessing the internet only through WiFi will be released from those shackles and businesses too will see massive benefits and new opportunities. This change will impact a host of services – both existing and yet-to-be-developed – in the commercial and business space. However, while we think about 5G and its impact on information, 5G will also benefit us materially.
The 5G Economy
The 5G economy is only starting to make an impact on the world. Right now, businesses are used to existing technologies and will continue working with that which is most familiar to them. 5G is set to turn all of this on its head.
5G can be paired with the Internet of Things (IoT) to provide us an insight into the supply chain previously unavailable. This will let us track goods and services providing real-time information about their condition. This information can be critical for temperature-sensitive items as well as electronics. As operators continue to invest heavily in 5G infrastructure, the forthcoming faster download speeds and much lower latency will help keep devices synchronized. From an economic viewpoint, this information sharing will only better enable the transfer of goods from point A to B.
However, 5G is not only instrumental in shipping and receiving. 5G helps enable automated fulfillment services where AI-enabled robots source, package, and ship items 24/7/365. This helps improve efficiencies and costs. Delivery speed can be further enhanced through the use of 5G enabled drones. Of course, drones are not the only benefactor of 5G. Autonomous vehicles are highly dependent on low-latency, real-time technology, and smart transportation is one pillar that will make up smart cities. 5G powered transportation can decrease traffic congestion and help improve road safety through vehicle-to-everything communication.
According to a recent article from CTIA, Smart traffic management systems have the potential to reduce congestion by 40% and save $100 million annually.
Business Rollout of 5G
In the US, broadband services are frequently provided through cable companies. However, new high-speed 5G networks will introduce different options for consumers. With operators signing multi-year deals to build out these 5G networks, they are counting on consumer usage growing. Right now, many countries tout the number of 5G subscribers as if it is a race. In reality, while those numbers are impressive, the accurate measure of 5G is the jobs it will create and the economic growth it will drive.
On the jobs front it is expected that by 2034, 5G will lead to the creation of 4.6 million jobs in the US. These jobs will be realized in both skilled and unskilled areas of the economy and run the gamut from construction to networking. The jobs themselves are expected to impact all sectors in contrast to previous waves of wireless-related jobs which were primarily focused in the digital space.
Worldwide there are over 30 billion connected devices and could reach 50 billion by the end of the year. This number is only expected to grow over the remainder of the decade, and 5G usage will lead the way. All of the major operators have 5G rollout plans in the works, with some countries providing 5G services to consumers already.
Network sites are valuable assets in a world connected. 5G networks can support close to 1 million devices per kilometer which is a radical improvement to the 100,000 devices supported by 4G/LTE. This increase in capacity and speed will drive data intelligence and facilitate far richer services and experiences. With 5G’s ability to connect more devices at much faster speeds, operators can expect to see significant growth in smart devices. This will increase the amount of data that businesses have access to, which can only lead to new opportunities. In addition to new business opportunities, 5G can improve underlying business operations utilizing the same data. In this way, 5G not only helps drive new revenue but also ensures existing income is increased.
What to Expect from 5G
5G will be driven by a variety of operators around the world, targeting the consumer; however, the most significant ROI will be seen by businesses. Businesses will be able to take advantage of the increase in speed to improve access to information and launch services with little to no latency. These improved efficiencies will help companies to do more with less. Businesses can expect to see growth in many industries, from retail to automotive, manufacturing, and more. However, these changes will not only benefit existing industries – but they will also spur technical innovation and will act as a catalyst helping create new jobs and industries.
If everything works as planned, 5G networks will be the long looked for solution to the “last mile” problem. With increased speed and lower latency, devices will communicate with each other seamlessly. As the number of connected devices increases, smart cities and autonomous vehicles become more realistic. 5G will also improve healthcare enabling smart surgeries and improved diagnosis and will have an even larger impact on the manufacturing industry through automation and IoT.
Unfortunately, not all businesses are aware of the advantages 5G will bring. They have yet to incorporate 5G in their business strategies or budget for 5G hardware and infrastructure. Leaders need to understand the business benefits that 5G provides in terms of data, automation, AI, and IoT and how these benefits can align with corporate goals. As companies start to use mobile networks to an ever greater degree within their operations, education is essential to ensure teams are making the most of the technology. The important point to realize is that mobile is powerful. Although the rollout of 5G has been slowed a bit globally in 2020, it’s still coming, and coming soon. Companies need to prepare and plan now to ensure that they can reap the immediate benefits and start to plan for future mobile innovations and advancements.