May 24, 2019
It is arriving this summer at the earliest (depending on your region), but will take a few years to fully roll out. In the meantime, let’s take a look at how 5G is going to change the way you use the web.
This one’s obvious so let’s get it out of the way: 5G download speeds will be approximately 20x faster than 4G LTE. Basically, if you’re watching Netflix on your way to work, buffering is going to be a thing of the past. After a few months of 5G speeds we may forget what the slow, creaky internet was ever like. As Huawei CEO Ken Hu quipped, “eventually the technology will help us to create a brand-new seamless experience between online and offline [worlds.]” Beyond the clear speed improvements, 5G also brings two other major advantages: a much lower latency (lag time between signal being sent and received) and supporting a higher number of simultaneous connections.
Opening up the number of simultaneous connections will significantly boost the Internet of Things wave, enabling everyday devices to be connected to the internet and to communicate with each other. In addition to smart speakers and other gadgets around the home, self-driving cars (which should be highway-ready industry-wide by 2020) will benefit greatly from the higher capacity of 5G, ultimately making our futuristic cars safer on the road. Automated cars are just one aspect of the fabled ‘Smart City’ – a collection of technologies like web-enabled roads, signals, resource meters, an abundance of sensors, and smart retail (such as cashier-less Amazon Go stores and similar efforts in China) will run effortlessly on a 5G backbone. In the entertainment sector, online mobile gaming and mobile AR/VR are really going to hit their stride with the advent of 5G. In many ways, 5G is going to do for data what electricity did to the mechanical age.
Wearable devices like health trackers and smart watches are growing in popularity and the amount and variety of user behaviour being measured will only skyrocket. This matters because this data, when properly shared with a trusted medical provider or platform, will lead to preventative care for millions. In the unfortunate event of an accident, zero-latency bulletproof internet actually enables a doctor in New York to perform surgery (via a sophisticated robot arm) on a patient in Vancouver. The first remote surgery was performed in China last month, so keep an eye on this amazing development as more and more patients opt for out of city/state surgeons to cope with demand in big cities.
With 5G, AI can spread to state/national scale operations like aviation and, yes, the military. Web-enabled devices can better protect us from international threats on land, sea, and air. AI-powered units with “improved situational awareness and decision making”, as the Defense Innovation Board reported in April, are needed for modern international security.
In a way, these forecasts and predictions are trite. Much like the spread of electricity and electric products in the late 19th century, it’s hard to describe or quantify just how much life will change because of one key technology that seemingly empowers every other product on the market. Many will welcome 5G as ‘data with zero load times’ but it’s so much more than that. 5G is likely to be the turning point that enables a true IoT connected world, bringing unlimited intelligence to the world around you.
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