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5G and me: Why should I care?

Thu 8 Aug 2019 | Alex Gledhill

The first 5G networks have rolled out and early 5G smartphones have come to market. But what does 5G actually mean for businesses and consumers?

Years in the making, 5G is finally here. The first 5G networks have started to roll out, meaning that one of the most hyped technologies of recent years is finally shifting from being a mere concept to an actual reality.

However, for some, there is still a question mark hanging over this next-generation connectivity. One of the most common arguments rolled out by the 5G doubters is ‘why do we need 5G when we already have Wi-Fi and 4G?’.

What’s clear is that there’s an appetite to learn about 5G and where better to start than the technological benefits that it offers. 5G represents a much bigger leap than previous iterations of network connectivity and will enable the development of innovative technologies like never before. In fact, compared to current 4G networks, 5G will offer 50 times more speed, with 10 times less latency and a staggering 1,000 times more capacity.

It’s important to note that 5G won’t completely replace 4G as soon it arrives. Instead, it will initially run alongside the existing 4G networks providing an improved service, just as 4G still runs on top of 3G. On its arrival, 4G enabled a range of new technologies such as video streaming and video calling, but 5G is set to take things forward by a giant leap.

Agile, purpose-built networks will form the backbone of 5G. To prepare for this new era of connectivity, Communications Service Providers are dropping fixed-function hardware in favour of software-defined computing platforms and pushing intelligence to the network edge.

Leading technology companies are fast developing technologies that will support the rollout of these next-generation networks and working with industry partners to ensure all the benefits are harnessed.

Who will benefit?

As 5G technology moves out of the lab and into the real world, it will bring with it ripples of innovation that will swell into huge waves of opportunity for businesses all over the globe. A significant technological step over 4G, 5G will have a huge impact on the global economy, generating a massive $10 trillion of revenue by 2035, according to ABI Research.

The new generation of 5G networks are being designed to support a broad range of devices and use cases that will help to transform entire industries. Helping to usher in industry 4.0, 5G will drive the future of everything from smart agriculture and precision manufacturing to personalised retail and connected healthcare.

Consumers will feel the benefits just as much as businesses, particularly in retail and entertainment. 5G will enable a whole new wave of immersive media experiences including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and 8K video. The way in which we will consume content, particularly video, is set to change dramatically.

These new media experiences will also form part of the new smart retail landscape where physical and digital experiences are integrated to interact with and personalise our shopping experiences, as well as reduce costs for retailers.

“Whether you’re a start-up or an established leader in your industry, 5G is set to offer new opportunities to thrive”

5G will also drive the development of smart cities, accelerating urban innovation and enabling a range of new connected innovations such as smart car parks. What’s more, smart cities will form the basis of the infrastructure, which will fundamentally change the world in which we live.

Having this infrastructure in place sets the UK up for the safe adoption of autonomous vehicles. Moreover, with driverless cars comes a whole new range of entertainment formats tailored to fit vehicles and journey times. Commuters will be able to take advantage of autonomous journeys to maximise time to and from the office, providing us with the flexibility to work from wherever we want to.

With its high speeds, huge data capacity and low latency, 5G will bring a faster, smoother and more reliable experience to the masses. While the first 5G handsets are already here, it will take some time before 5G is available for all. Once coverage is more widespread, it will provide a spark of innovation for smartphone makers and encourage consumers to upgrade their handsets, with 5G adoption accelerating from 2020 onwards.

When it comes to 5G, it’s important to separate the myth from the reality. And the reality is that the 5th generation of wireless connectivity will bring huge benefits to both businesses and consumers. Whether you’re a start-up or an established leader in your industry, 5G is set to offer new opportunities to thrive, representing a massive step up from 4G.

Experts featured:

Alex Gledhill

Global Account Director - Vodafone


5g industry 40 smart cities
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