The Post-Smartphone Era Brought on by 5G
First of all, what is 5G?
You may have heard of 5G connectivity by now, notably of the buzz or the notoriety that surround its much debated and expected worldwide rollout. The latest standard of wireless communication, 5G is set to offer unprecedented mobile data speeds, revolutionizing the mobile communications industry that has been largely stagnant for more than a decade. Like any new technology, it too, has its opponents citing health concerns and misconceptions that, so far, have gone largely unsubstantiated.
While 4G and LTE, the existing mobile network standards in most of the developed world, allow us to stream video, make videocalls, play games, and access just about anything we can imagine through our smartphones, 5G will increase the speed of data transfer five- to ten-fold, depending on local network coverage. It’s going to be ultrafast, both in terms of uploads and downloads. Forget about waiting for half an hour to download a movie or upload large files while on the go – 5G will make remote work, communication and data transmission easy, convenient, and reliable. It’s going to be invaluable in the absence of DSL, cable or wireless connectivity, as is the case in many remote areas.
Not only will everything be faster, but the rollout of 5G will also open new avenues, including brand new IoT applications, connected AR/VR tech proliferation, and connected gaming, to name a few. One word of caution, though: 5G will not fully replace LTE or 4G, at least not any time soon. They will continue to work in parallel for a few years, as the upgrade of existing networks is bound to be a costly and time-consuming process.
Advantages to early 5G adoption
5G will be fast, efficient and suffer from virtually no latency, introducing extensive and exciting opportunities for new applications, product types, and markets to emerge. We can imagine that any use cases where mobile data transfer speed or latency were previously an issue, will soon be able to benefit from the ultrafast speed of 5G.
Barriers to widespread 5G availability
On the technical side, the newer 5G networks operate on different frequencies than 4G or LTE networks and they need a combination of the low-, mid-, and high-band frequencies to function. This requires sizable investments in infrastructure for network providers and local communities, and a completely new network setup. Most of us will also need new, 5G-enabled smartphone devices to be able to receive and transmit data over 5G frequencies. 4G and LTE networks will continue to function, in parallel, though they’ll be unable to access 5G cell towers.
Getting ready for 5G
As a business, what are some of the plans or strategies you can adopt to prepare for the worldwide rollout of 5G networks, however far into the future it may seem today? How do we get ready for ultrafast data transmission speeds? To start with, we must get ready to abandon old paradigms and ways of thinking. Until now, our smartphones have played the role of lifelines for us – helping us get stuff done in our personal and professional lives, 24×7. They are omni-potent and reasonably fast, though they certainly have their limitations in terms of processing and data transmission speeds.
When those limitations fall off with 5G, many newer types of connected devices will suddenly become more viable – including but not limited to smart glasses, AR and VR headsets, connected IoT systems, and some that we could not imagine today. Thus, in order to prepare for the implications of 5G proliferation, we must be willing to think outside the box – envisioning ultra-fast new smart devices with their companion apps – which will be capable of accomplishing ever more complex and diverse tasks at lightning fast speeds.
5G is also slated to disrupt journalism, and crowd-sourced content, enabling citizens around the world to broadcast from their own handhelds and giving reporting power back to the public. Reactions to local and world news will also be immediate, as viewers will be able to get involved in live discussions and real-time commentary.
5G outlook for 2020 – 2021
Though 5G speeds may not yet be available on your local mobile provider’s network, the rollout of 5G cellular towers is sweeping across North America, where infrastructure investments are ample, and the rate of adoption is more rapid than in Europe. Furthermore, in 2020 – 2021, most smartphone hardware manufacturers will have at least one 5G-ready device in their product portfolios.
The proliferation of 5G is happening faster than we may think, despite ongoing concerns. Like the internet in the 90s, those who resist the spread of innovative technology typically end up regretting being last on the bandwagon.
Ready to brainstorm about potential new IoT applications that will work well on 5G networks? Contact the Pegus Digital team of futurists today.