How 5G will change the world?

Gartner’s Hype cycle chronicles the innovation triggers that is re-defining the technology trends of the future[1]. This year’s future ready movements include the dominance of immersive technologies, digitalized eco-systems, democratized AI and ubiquitous infrastructure. This will provide limitless, always-on, read-to-go environs to maximize human endeavours. The future connected space is made possible through the tactile internet, ubiquitous IoT and hyper communications that is underpinned by the 5G infrastructure.

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The exponential advancement in the telecommunications trajectory is entering it next paradigm shift with 5G technologies. From the 1G analog phones that reached the maximum data speed of 2.4 kbps and dropped calls. Human have pushed ahead with the mobile revolution through 2G, 3G and the current 4G standards. The decade old fourth generation has exploded into our consciousness with high speed internet at 100 kbps with information, entertainment and connectivity at our finger tips.

Today’s world is continually shaped by the high-speed internet. According to Cisco Virtual Networking Index, global IP traffic will triple with a CAGR of 22% over the next three years[2]. One billion internet users will reach out through 3.4 devices per capita consuming over 194 exabytes of data per month. Machine to machine connections will reach over 12.2 billion engendering an IoT revolution. Your quality of life is determined through smart meters, communication cars, digital health monitors and host of intermingling networks.

A transformative force for global change

Imagine a world with no barriers where communication shrinks space and time within your cell phone. High speed data with reduced latency and low energy consumption promises light speed connections with near zero information loss. This facilitates businesses, governments, organizations and communities to seamlessly interact, proactively remove obstacles and extract high efficiencies. This is an innovation trigger that can re-invent the way of life.

The promise of 5G is not just an extension of the 4G speed. It will leverage the data crunching potential of cloud, virtual networks, edge computing, IoT and more to deliver mission critical services across the world. University of Surrey’s 5G innovation centre reports an average network speed of 800 Gbps that will bring new dimensions to instant gratification[3]. Qualcomm reports over $12 trillion 5G services that can impact on how humans work and play on Earth and in Space[4].

For example, high speed data is critical to bring the autonomous vehicle dream to fruition. Seamless urban traffic made possible to 5G driven Vehicle-to-Everything communication will make accidents passé’ and snarls redundant. Lightening speed connections and responses where in vehicles will share information with urban artefacts and architecture, fellow vehicles and with pedestrians will completely transform how we manufacture cars, design our cities, use machinery and so on. The ramifications can be felt in industries such as agriculture, mining, construction, transportation, retail, etc.

With 5g bringing in so much of transformation, telcos are gearing up to embracing this technology much faster than anyone else in the industry. Big enterprises are already in the race to roll out 5g services as early as 2019. But at the same time, realignment to this massive technology does not come cheap. The most radical part of 5g is getting the network to be smart. 5g will boast of solutions that allow networks to be in charge and configure themselves per the content/data that is being sent and received. With the help of analytics and insights, these networks will be self optimizing and primed. This means that the end devices in 5G will be able to tell and inform networks about their connection and speeds and not follow a top down approach. This gives rise to a very capable network that supports multiple devices all at the same time, where every device defines its connection and manages their links themselves. 

Re-defining human connect

Healthcare is another sector that will reap the benefits of 5G connectivity. The “Tactile internet” which is an amalgamation of real and virtual objects will blur the boundaries of reality. The ubiquitous sensory wearables can seamlessly map movements and project alternate realities across spaces. This means highly specialized surgeons can tap the potential of tactile internet for telesurgery for patients across the globe. Data streaming through sensory devices can provide real time health information for doctors to deliver accurate diagnosis a world away. But the tactile internet is only possible with low latency high speed 5G connectivity. And this is not a sci-fi fantasy world, companies like Huawei are actively investing to power the possibilities of tactile internet[5].

Human connects will continue to be unconstrained by geographies with the evolution of internet speeds. Researchers are excited about Edge or Fog computing which involves personal cloud power for people.  Imagine billions of clouds churning out data that are instantly converted to actionable insights for personalized responses.

This evolution does not stop here. As 5g promises to change the face of communications forever, there will be a line of devices and gadgets that tap into the power that 5g can bring. This will open communications and take collaboration to a level where everything is available across the connected ecosystem in the blink of an eye. This would just transform lifestyles, the way we communicate, the way services communicate with each other. Latency and buffering will be relics. 5g will bring in a new standard – a new paradigm and a new meaning to the word – Communication.

Why businesses consider 5G to be elusive

Businesses across the world have lost their mojo when it comes to 5G technologies citing capital intensive investments and lack of customer adoption. 53% of executives believe that there is no compelling reason to shift to 5G immediately[6]. But most of them are unified in their views about the long-term potential for high speed 5G connectivity.

A large majority cite high capital investments as a deterrent towards 5G investments. But experts point out that exclusive 5G networks need not be built as it will seamlessly connect with 4G cells. High investments must be expended in case of high density requirements. Mobile network operators will be spending less than $20,000 inclusive of all costs for upgrading existing nodes[7]. With more migration happening to 5G, 4g cells would be freed of capacity that can optimize network utilization. Technological advancement will eventually allow peaceful co-existence of 4G and 5G spectrums resulting in better allocation of services ensuring cost savings.

5G – A change of a lifetime

It has to be noted that every technology does have its detractors. Bill Gates was famously quoted to have seen little commercial potential for the internet. Therefore, it is prudent for market challengers to keep 5G within their cross hairs to ride over the disruption curve that will explode in the next decade.

Bearish outlooks are not marring the long march towards 5G. Technological advancements in autonomous vehicles, augmented reality and AI are fuelling this surge. Emergence of SpaceX, functional humanoids like Sophia and Smart cities across the world will necessitate 5G connectivity. Smart devices can work together only if data connectivity is 10 times faster than 4G networks and latency drops by a factor of 10. With customers demanding immersive experiences that transcends space and time, it is imperative that businesses remain bullish about 5G capabilities.

5G- More power to the masses

The best part with 5g is the fact that it is something that is being thought from the ground up and not necessarily a technology that ticks a few boxes. The very fact that 5g cells can exist with the earlier 4g network now means that 5g planners just need to put in additional 5g cells wherever necessary to boost and accelerate stuff. The network and the devices connected therein are smart enough to switch speeds depending on the content. This way 5g can generate a much more consistent area mapped out and ensure services powered by 5g are available across the planet -in the most effective way. Reports say that the first 5g services can be expected as early as 2019 but it will take 2022 for them to be primetime.

Conclusion

5g has the power to turn things around, it is not just another technology upgrade. It’s been thought from the ground up and has given networks the control – to manage the devices connected, to remove latencies and roundtrips. Featuring millmeter wave technology 5g devices consume less power, can cover larger areas, offering maximum data carrying capacity with minimal latency or none. This revolutionary technology is all set to permeate through every sphere of business and drive in the next wave of business collaboration and growth.

References

[1] https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/5-trends-emerge-in-gartner-hype-cycle-for-emerging-technologies-2018/

[2] https://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content?articleId=1771211

[3] https://www.bain.com/insights/why-the-5g-pessimists-are-wrong/

[4] https://prescouter.com/2018/01/5g-impact-different-industries/

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/06/04/what-is-the-killer-use-case-for-5g/#69787f9f575d

[6] https://www.bain.com/insights/why-the-5g-pessimists-are-wrong/

[7] https://www.bain.com/insights/darryn-lowe-why-5g-wont-cost-as-much-as-pessimists-think-video/

Shashi Kaligotla

Senior Vice President

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