How 5G Will Transform the Way We Live and Work
5G technology is about a new radio communication system known as 5G New Radio (5G NR) and an entirely new core network that aims to improve wireless connections worldwide. It also includes the concept of multiple access for connectivity technologies like satellites, Wi-Fi, fixed line and cellular (as standardized by the 3GPP).
Mobile IoT technologies are characterized as a low-cost, low-power consumption solution. They improve coverage both indoors and outdoors compared with existing wide area technologies, offer secure connectivity and authentication, are easier to deploy to a network’s topology, and are designed around network scalability for capacity upgrades.
This means businesses, city developers, and other industrial enterprises can connect more devices with better capability, for much less – all with the power of 5G speeds at their fingertips.
Current industries that will continue benefiting from these 5G IoT enhancements include:
- Automotive and Transportation
- Smart Factories
- Smart Buildings
- Smart Cities
- Smart Utilities
- Security and Surveillance
Internet of Things
The internet of things refers to all the machines and devices linked through the internet, and its enormous growth is likely imminent as 5G comes online. There are expected to be 125 billion devices linked by 2030, up from 11 billion last year, according analysts at DBS Group Research.
This leap forward in connectivity will be key to the spread of artificial intelligence and machine learning, enabling massive amounts of data to be collected from remote and mobile sensors and analyzed in real time. This will drive everything from home appliances that order groceries to autonomous vehicles to smart cities. China’s ambition to dominate these industries of the future including the 5G technology itself, as outlined in the Made in China 2025 blueprint, has contributed to trade tensions with the U.S.
Transport & Logistics
The future of transport starts with driverless cars, and in the early days of 5G the automotive sector is likely to see some of the biggest changes. Everyone from Apple Inc. to Uber Technologies Inc. is looking to build self-driving cars. But while test cars are already on the roads in some cities, the commercial introduction of these vehicles — essentially large, mobile computers processing enormous amounts of data in real time — won’t be possible without the speed and capacity of fully deployed 5G networks.
5G and autonomous vehicles also promise to revolutionize shipping and logistics. That could mean platoons of linked autonomous trucks and “ghost” cargo ships, as well as dramatic improvements in logistic efficiency. Millions of truck, tractor, bus and taxi drivers around the world could lose their jobs, though of course new ones would be created elsewhere. In testing, the Port of Hamburg has begun installing sensors on ships to track movement and environmental data in real time, enabling employees equipped with smart glasses to visualize the action, via augmented reality, improving traffic flow and efficiency.
Feeling unwell? One day you could order a house call from a self-driving mini-clinic that offers automated diagnostic tests and video-links to a range of doctors. That’s one vision of the future of health care, in which rapid advances in data transmission, robotics and AI change the quality of care and the way it is delivered. That could also include remote robotics-assisted operations, and even partially automated surgeries. Elderly people, particularly those in rural or otherwise under-served communities, should benefit, particularly in places like Japan where the countryside is being depopulated.
5G will also advance more personalized, data-driven medicine, partly via wearable technologies that will be able to monitor not only your physical condition but emotional and mental states as well — and all in real time. In Singapore, for example, cognitive and behavioral science startup Cognifyx has recently teamed up with ride-hailing service Grab to test drivers for mental fatigue.
In the Office
Office work will get a lot smarter. Advances in AI and machine learning made possible by 5G networks will mean fewer white collar workers will be engaged in repetitive tasks, even cognitive ones such as accounting and data processing. In most cases, smart machines won’t take over entire jobs but will instead perform tasks that are key parts of jobs. Workers who can collaborate with intelligent machines and who have higher-order cognitive skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking will be most in demand.
Security and War
5G has implications for public and national security. To begin with, the extreme interconnectedness itself poses risks, making everything from individual households to energy grids more vulnerable to hackers. The 5G network will also power the development of fully autonomous weapons that make their own decisions to fire on targets, as well as the unprecedented tracking of people in public in real time using facial recognition technology.
Given the power of 5G technology, it is no surprise that it has also become a proxy for the broader power struggles between the U.S. and China. Huawei Technologies Co. has been targeted by the U.S. government and its Western allies as it pushes for a leadership role in rolling out the 5G network, given its close ties to Beijing.