The next generation of wireless technology could affect a wide range of industries, from healthcare to financial services to retail.
Move over, 4G — the next generation of wireless technology is here.
5G is set to enhance connectivity across networks. This is especially important as the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices rises, along with the amount of data they generate.
The technology will enable faster data transfer speeds (from 4G’s 1Gbps to 10Gbps). As a result, 5G creates tremendous opportunity for numerous industries, but also sets the stage for large-scale disruption. Major 5G network deployments are expected by 2020, and a projected 4.1B IoT cellular connections will use 5G worldwide by 2024, according to Ericsson.
From enabling remote robotic surgery and widespread adoption of autonomous cars to improving crop and livestock management, 5G is poised to disrupt a plethora of the world’s biggest industries. We dig in below.
5G technology could help production operations in the manufacturing industry become more flexible and efficient, while enhancing safety. This would enable manufacturers to enhance “smart factories,” which leverage automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and IoT.
Tethered and untethered robots could be controlled, monitored, and reconfigured remotely over the 5G mobile network.
This next gen wireless technology might also result in increased adoption of augmented reality (AR), as 5G networks offer the high bandwidth and low latency required for sustained augmented image quality. In a factory setting, this means AR could support training, maintenance, construction, and repair.
For example, an Ericsson factory in Tallinn, Estonia has adopted AR for troubleshooting to help mitigate the costs of breakdowns and reduce production downtime. It has reported that adopting AR has boosted productivity by 50%.
As networks continue to adopt 5G, more manufacturing use cases will come to light. Samsung and AT&T have partnered to create the United States’ first manufacturing-focused 5G “Innovation Zone” in Austin, Texas. This testing ground aims to demonstrate how 5G can impact manufacturing.
2. Energy & Utilities
5G could lead to innovative solutions in energy production, transmission, distribution, and usage. It is also expected to unleash the next wave of smart grid features and efficiency.
With more connected smart grids, energy management will become more efficient, reducing electricity peaks and energy costs overall.
Moreover, 5G dramatically increases the lifespan of battery-dependent devices, sometimes up to 10 years. This makes mass deployment of IoT sensors a more practical solution for the energy industry.
5G also supports the use of drones to monitor and maintain transmission of production assets, leading to improved grid uptime. This alone could generate a 30% reduction in costs.
Farmers around the world are using IoT technology to optimize agricultural processes such as water management, fertigation, livestock safety & maturity monitoring, crop communication, and aerial crop monitoring. 5G technology could lead to increased adoption of IoT devices that make this possible.
5G could provide real-time data for farmers to monitor, track, and automate their agricultural systems, resulting in increased profitability, efficiency, and safety. In a high-risk industry such as agriculture, these increases in production and precision are vital, especially as climate change poses new threats to farmers around the globe.
The technologies currently available are not advanced enough to cope with the massive data quantities and speeds required for smart farming.
In the UK, for example, approximately 80% of rural areas are outside of 4G range. In the US, over half of all Americans in rural areas lacked access to broadband service as of 2015.
It is important to note that the agriculture industry will have to wait longer than most industries to reap the benefits of 5G, as 5G networks will largely be deployed in urban areas first.
Mobile shopping has become incredibly popular among consumers worldwide. Over 100M Americans made a purchase on their smartphones in 2018.
This migration to mobile shopping largely occurred thanks to 4G/LTE. Imagine how the mobile shopping experience could be affected if mobile connections were 10 times faster.
5G could open the door to VR dressing rooms as well as mobile AR experiences in stores and at home. 5G’s low latency enables mobile AR/VR applications without the motion sickness some experience when using the technology today. With 5G, it will be possible to try on an array of outfits virtually from the comfort of your home.
Worldwide spending on AR and VR applications for retail showcasing is expected to reach approximately $59B by 2020.
5. Financial Services
As financial institutions increasingly focus on mobile operations, 5G technology is poised to accelerate this digitization, from internal operations to customer engagement.
The increased speed made possible by 5G could allow users to make payments transactions instantly on their devices.
5G connectivity could also allow wearable devices to share biometric data with financial services to authenticate user identity instantly and accurately.
6. Media & Entertainment
5G is set to disrupt media and entertainment on many levels, including mobile media, mobile advertising, home broadband, and TV. It will also be crucial for improving experiences across emerging interactive technologies such as AR/VR.
Thanks to 5G’s low latency, streamed videos are less likely to stall or stop. On a 5G network, movie downloads will decrease from an average of 7 minutes to just 6 seconds. 5G will save people an estimated average of 23 hours of loading time per month while browsing social media, gaming, streaming music, and downloading movies and shows.
Expanded AR/VR experiences could also create a new channel for content producers to reach consumers, allowing people to connect with media through virtual items and characters in different ways — and 5G will facilitate these experiences.
Over the next decade, the global media industry stands to gain a staggering $765B in cumulative revenues from new services and applications enabled by 5G technology, according to a study conducted by Ovum.
There are many ways in which 5G could improve healthcare around the world, while increasing efficiencies and revenue for the healthcare industry. Using 5G technology in healthcare is estimated to represent a $76B revenue opportunity in 2026.
The healthcare system needs faster, more efficient networks to keep up with the huge amounts of data it deals with, from detailed patient information to clinical research to high-resolution MRI &CT images.
By 2020, the healthcare industry will produce an estimated 2,314 exabytes of data — that’s 2.314 quadrillion gigabytes. 5G’s low latency could allow these massive amounts of data to be transmitted without impacting speeds experienced by others on the network.
5G could also enable remote monitoring devices, like wearable tech, to have much longer battery lives while they send patient health data to doctors in real time.
Remote robotic surgery could improve, as well. Because these procedures require high-definition image streaming, low latency and high throughput communication are essential. 5G networks could facilitate remote surgery procedures as they enable lag-free and ulta-fast connections.
Connecting public and private vehicles with 5G could change the way people and goods travel around the world.
5G technology could provide increased visibility and control over transportation systems, from public buses to private logistic fleets. As 5G networks become more prevalent, cities will gain invaluable access to real-time, end-to-end visibility into their transportation systems.
5G could allow enhanced vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, a key component to improving road safety in the emerging world of driverless vehicles.
It is essential that V2V communications take place in real time, as a matter of milliseconds could be the difference between a close call and a fatal collision. Achieving this high speed of interconnectivity requires vehicles to transmit large amounts of data between each other without any lags. 5G networks could make this possible with their low latency.
5G could also play a crucial role in vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications. V2I communications connect vehicles with infrastructure such as traffic lights, bus stops, and even the road itself. This could improve traffic flow, reduce external danger factors, increase vehicle reaction time, and make public transportation more efficient.
The future of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is dependent upon reliable 5G networks. Both AR and VR technologies require a cheaper, more extensive network with lower latency and more consistency to continue developing successfully, according to Qualcomm.
AR and VR require massive amounts of data to be processed. An unreliable and lagging connection can ruin the immersive experiences, even making users physically sick.
With a 10x decrease in latency, 100x improvement in traffic capacity, and 100x improvement in network efficiency, 5G could address these issues. This is critical for mass adoption of AR and VR.
5G could help insurers across the board make decisions more effectively and efficiently.
With more efficient data sharing, health and life insurers could make more informed and accurate decisions when it comes to providing quotes. As wearable 5G-connected healthcare devices gain popularity, health insurers could offer “positive reinforcement” policies, where premiums would be reduced if a certain level of activity or fitness is maintained. (While remote monitoring exists today, the technology is limited by the capacity of the network to handle massive amounts of data, and stands to gain from a higher capacity and more efficient 5G network).
As 5G ushers in a new era of autonomous and driverless vehicles, real-time data and reports could also be instantly sent to car insurance companies following a customer’s accident.
5G has the potential to transform how children and adults are educated.
As 5G paves the way to better AR/VR experiences, teachers could use these technologies in a variety of new education techniques. For example, students could go on virtual field trips around the world, from the Egyptian pyramids to the Great Wall of China.
AR/VR educational platforms provide a number of benefits over traditional educational methods, including cost effectiveness, lower risks, and increased retention. A study conducted by Next Galaxy Corp and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital found that medical personnel retained as much as 80% of the course material after being trained with VR, compared to retaining only 20% of information from a traditional training session.
For students in high-risk fields such as medicine and aviation, these VR learning experiences could prove to be especially useful.
12. Cloud Computing
Due to mobile devices’ low throughput, high latency, and inconsistent connectivity, cloud applications are often watered down in terms of features and functionality.
With 5G, mobile apps could become more sophisticated than ever before — the technology could make it easier for mobile devices to communicate in real-time with a central server.
The technology’s ultra low latency and high throughput would also allow the cloud computing experience to rival corporate LAN connectivity to desktops.
In a world where streaming subscriptions such as Netflix and Spotify are extremely popular, 5G’s solutions could open up a whole new market for the video game industry to flourish.
5G could solve the latency problems that currently face cloud-based gaming. Feedback would feel instantaneous, as latency would be reduced from 4G’s 10 milliseconds to 1-2 milliseconds. This technology would benefit those playing complex multiplayer games like Fornite on their phones — or any other mobile device, for example.
Video game streaming services have been criticized for their high costs and inconsistent gaming experiences. 5G could improve their quality and make them more cost-effective.
Big tech companies are already jumping on the gaming-as-a-service bandwagon. Microsoft’s Project xCloud will stream Xbox games to PCs, consoles, and mobile devices. Meanwhile, Google just announced Stadia, which allows users to stream video games from their Chrome browser. 5G would be especially beneficial for streaming on mobile devices.
14. Real Estate
The real estate industry could be impacted as 5G paves the way for emerging technologies like AR and VR.
Real estate agents could begin offering virtual home tours. Prospective buyers could use virtual reality to view several homes without ever having to step outside of the brokerage’s office.
For those looking to purchase or rent property in a different state or country, accessing VR tours via a mobile application would prove invaluable. Individuals could virtually tour vacation rentals before booking, for example. 5G technology would allow for these applications to run more efficiently than any existing process today.
5G small cells could also provide an additional income stream for many properties, as millions of new small cells will need to be installed and leased on buildings all over the world.
However, this could ultimately create a liability on real estate properties. If 5G small cells prove to be detrimental to the public’s health, real estate owners could end up being liable for installing them close to human populations.
15. Public Safety
5G could enhance public safety capabilities, thereby improving emergency response times.
Through the 5G network, applications such as real-time video, security communications, and media sharing could be used to assist first responders in emergency situations. Fire fighters, for example, could use augmented reality to walk through a home when they can’t see.
5G networks could improve information sharing within the public safety community, with secure and reliable video sharing from bodycams, drones, group chat, file sharing, and location sharing.
In post-disaster situations, 5G-connected drones could deliver relief materials and assist in locating missing individuals. (This is given that the drone never loses line of sight to a 5G small cell).
An enhanced network of sensors, cameras, and other automated devices would become help create a fuller picture of any public safety situations, potentially making cities around the world safer to live in.
16. Supply Chain Management
Installing 5G-enabled IoT sensors on products could easily make a large amount of data could available to stakeholders in the supply chain in real time.
The data may include location, temperature, moisture, pressure, and other information that can be crucial to properly managing products in a supply chain.
Introducing 5G IoT sensors into supply chains could mean fewer losses due to manual inefficiency or misplaced containers. As 5G technologies introduce more intelligent supply chain management, there could be potential for increases in production, streamlined logistical processes, and reduced costs.
The way restaurants interact with customers, prepare food, and deliver meals will continue to evolve as 5G gains adoption.
5G-enabled IoT devices could improve food tracking and waste disposal. Ordering platforms, from menus to drive-throughs, could evolve into more immersive and interactive experiences for customers, as 5G allows enhanced performance with better speeds and lower latency.
5G-connected drones could allow restaurants to send out more food deliveries.
Kitchen employees could be trained using 5G-connected AR/VR experiences, saving valuable inventory. 5G connectivity could also finally enable widespread adoption of robotics in restaurants.
With all of these new 5G technologies, the restaurant industry is likely to see reduced costs, more efficient food production, and enhanced consumer experiences.
5G is providing the wireless infrastructure for the concept of “smart tourism” to emerge. It could bring in more tourists to destinations and provide them with more immersive experiences.
Many tourism organizations are already researching and developing 5G-connected technologies to improve their tourist destinations.
For example, the West of England Combined Authority has awarded a £5-million grant to trial AR/VR experiences in major tourist attractions in Bath and Bristol. The BBC, Aardman, and the University of Bristol will work on content and tech developments for the project.
“Imagine a virtual Roman soldier showing you around the Roman Baths, now imagine this moving 360 degrees on your mobile phone at a resolution you have never experienced before — that’s what 5G technology can offer,” said West of England Mayor Tim Bowles.
Ericsson has partnered with leading Russian telecommunications operator Rostelecom to deploy a 5G trial network at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, one of the largest art museums in the world. Ericsson’s 5G technology is currently being used to enhance museum tours and even restore art with remote-controlled robotics.
Communication is key when it comes to military strategies. Real-time data collection and transmission to devices within communication networks are crucial, and 5G technology could minimize the speed of data transmission.
Enhanced connectivity could minimize confusion and delay while relaying information in a life-threatening situation in the field. This could help prevent injuries and deaths in war zones.
5G technology will be important in military supply chain upkeep, as well. Better data collection on material usage can help with future military budgeting by providing a clearer understanding of spending and resources.
20. Marketing & Advertising
5G could play a key role in transitioning display advertising toward social immersive experiences, bringing content and audiences closer together.
Mobile display advertising is expected to become a $178B global market by 2028, according to Intel research. 5G could help businesses overcome the scale, delivery, and measurement issues they currently face when dealing with mobile ad campaigns.
5G could help marketing and advertising transition from banner-based ads to moving images and video. It could even give rise to new ad formats in VR and AR. 5G could also make it possible to measure ad effectiveness in real time through eye tracking and biometrics.