Much of the talk around 5G has been about space age advances like remote heart surgery, cars that drive themselves, drones that drop groceries on our doorsteps. But the reality of 5G looks set to be less sci-fi than that – and a whole lot more important in terms of how it will change our lives. The real impact of 5G will be felt – is already being felt – in our ordinary working lives. Its footprint can already be seen in retail branches, office space, factories and warehouses.
5G’s real value to the enterprise is the myriad ways in which it can speed the development of digital transformation. Forget the hype about fridges that replenish their own groceries and think instead about data. Think about speedier throughput of that data, lower latency in its transport, improved reliability in its delivery and a much greater density of possible end points for it to be deployed in. Suddenly it will be possible for businesses to keep on top of more assets and employee activities than ever before. 5G will not only give them the reach they need, but it will power the kind of analytics that will help make more timely and more informed decisions.
We might not be on the verge of the flying car, but we are already getting better at the remote control and automation of many different kinds of everyday equipment. Machines of all kinds are already able to respond to what is going on around them without human agency. 5G use cases are about coordination and simplification, and the elimination of banal human-driven error. Nobody is going to be making a blockbuster movie out of that, but it’s a critical advance all the same.
Once network operators have got over the difficulties of 5G deployment, they will gain by being better placed to cope with higher levels of mobile data traffic. Forget the pandemic for a second. Even without it, we were all looking for better methods to access more and more multimedia services online in ways and in places where wired broadband is not always possible.
5G is not about the wonder of individual use cases – spectacular though some of them may be. It’s about the sheer number of uses it has, and the almost unlimited number of people and things that can tap into it. People are talking about the tens of billions of things it can connect. That will soon be not so much science fiction as science fact.
5G’s impact will be transformative even without these stats. Its impact will be felt in productivity and the boost it will deliver to a macro economy that has just had a lousy year. The quality of our lives – business lives and social lives – is about to get a whole lot better.
The following event will give you a lot more detail on these themes.
By Guy Matthews, Editor of NetReporter