5G is coming. There’s no escaping the promises and the hype around what the fifth generation of mobile networks will deliver.
T-Mobile’s CTO, Neville Ray, recently revealed his vision of the applications that 5G could make possible, suggesting that more realistic and immersive virtual reality and augmented reality would revolutionize communications. A T-Mobile video demonstration simulated possible future applications, including a cyclist viewing real-time navigational information projected onto a heads-up display, and two women speaking different languages while simultaneously receiving translated audio. Additionally, Verizon has talked of how 5G will improve streaming video and facilitate an “internet of everything,” while AT&T foresees advancements in robotics, self-driving car technology and a network of connected devices that will reach from city to city.
Underpinning all these visions of the future is the speed that 5G will be capable of; currently understood to be somewhere between 10 and 50Gbps - faster than many domestic broadband speeds.
Given their reliance on their devices for business and personal purposes, today’s mobile users demand fast and consistent wireless connectivity regardless of where they are, and it’s this demand that’s driving the need for speed.
First generation mobiles allowed us to make phone calls, with 2G heralding the introduction of text messages. 3G enabled web browsing, emails and applications, while 4G allows us to quickly upload and download audio and video content when we want it.
The leap in speed offered by 5G should allow us to stream 4K HD video to our handsets. However, as the examples above suggest, the opportunities offered by 5G don’t just relate to improved mobile connectivity.
5G is set to reduce latency to a matter of milliseconds, making it ideal for managing the connectivity and bandwidth requirements of the Internet of Things. Gartner predicts that 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use this year, and that this will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. More than a third of these are expected to be business-related; the connected light bulbs, HVAC systems and building management systems that make up “smart buildings.”
That’s a lot of things, but it’s in connecting this ever-expanding network that 5G will come into its own.
It’s time for businesses to consider the opportunities that 5G can offer, and ensure that they’re ready for its debut.