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Why 5G is much more than just a faster internet

Michael Snow

There’s been a lot of hype around the arrival of 5G over the past few years. Now, we’re finally starting to see 5G being rolled out across the country, we thought it was time to take a look at the reality. Will 5G only benefit mobile phone users or does increased connectivity have a wider impact on society? Let’s start with what 5G offers us in comparison to 3G and 4G.

Quicker, better, greater, stronger

The fifth generation of mobile wireless brings with it significantly faster connectivity. With download speeds of at least 1GBps, and many mobile networks promising more than this, you could download a 4K film (on average 100GB) in just under two minutes. Qualcomm revealed at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow that they’re aiming for 100GBps, allowing you download a 4k film in just a second, although these kinds of speeds are still a way off. A faster connection also brings with it the benefit of an almost instantaneous connection and much less lag. Overall 5G will be more reliable and offers a greater capacity. Our 4G networks are already running out of capacity and with more and more phones connecting to the network we end up with signals dropping out and delays. 5G will support millions of devices for every square kilometre it covers, meaning you get a much better signal even when it’s busy.

What’s next for mobile?

The focus up until now for 5G has been on the next generation of mobile phones and we’re starting to see these launch with the likes of the Samsung S10 5G, Oppo Reno 5g, OnePlus 7 Pro 5g and the LG V50 ThinQ 5g. What’s most exciting about 5G isn’t necessarily this first generation of 5G mobiles though - it’s the possibilities which come afterwards. We’re on the cusp of having the fastest, most reliable internet we’ve ever had, which is likely to inspire a host of new apps, tech and services which we haven’t been able to imagine previously.

Upgrading technology

In other areas, we’re likely to see huge benefits within the automotive sector. Cars are likely to use 5G to be able to communicate with each other in record time, offering increased connectivity between cars and their environment. We’re likely to see an impact on safety, with cars being able to recognise dangers by communicating with other road users and sensing pedestrians. We’ll also benefit from live map updates and information being relayed quickly about the weather, traffic or accidents on the road ahead.

The low latency of 5G will also make it possible and safer than ever for us to use remote control machinery. From hazardous environments to healthcare, we’re likely to see specialist equipment being created, improvements in telemedicine, remote recovery and physical therapy via AR. Even remote surgery could become a very real possibility going forward.

A more connected society

With the coming of 5G, we can finally expect to see our cities and towns become smarter and safer. We’ll be able to monitor infrastructure more efficiently and notify the right public services to respond to incidents from road accidents to weather issues and traffic lights not working. We should be able to improve our data and responses to environmental, financial and social issues attached to city life and communicate more easily between local councils and residents.

So while on the surface 5G appears to be positive in terms of having a faster and more reliable internet connection, there is in fact a world of possibilities simmering underneath. Really, the advent of 5G opens the doors for us to try new things across almost every sector and industry. We’re currently on track to have 5G available across the UK by 2020, with many of the big cities benefitting from it this year, but this is only the first hurdle. Uptake of 5G phones is currently slow, and until we see the infrastructure in place to handle 5G it will probably stay that way. The good news is, we’re finally on our way.

Read our related blog: Why CIOs are migrating to the cloud

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