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5G and the social world

Wed 18 Sep 2019 | Alex Gledhill

5G is set to have a significant impact on the way we live our daily lives, writes Alex Gledhill

With its faster speeds, greater network capacity and incredibly low latency, 5G is set to be a game changer. Each new generation of communication technology has brought significant changes to the way we work and live. The network driven world began with 3G, marking the start of mobile internet and 4G enabling video streaming and social media. 5G is set to amplify all these things, but it’s not just about downloading video from Netflix faster.

By expanding the scope of secure and reliable connections, not only between consumers and devices, but between machines and other machines, 5G is set to have significant societal impact. These next-generation networks will transform entire industries, from healthcare to agriculture, but it’s not just the business world that will benefit.

In a substantial technological step up from 4G, 5G will offer 50 times more speed, and 1,000 times more network capacity with 10 times less latency. While these improvements will undoubtedly mean faster video streaming and downloading times for consumers, there are many more benefits to consider.

Live action

5G will completely change the fan experience at live events. For example, music festivals will benefit from the expanded spectrum 5G offers, ensuring that large numbers of people can use their mobile data at the same time in order to message friends, download maps, upload photos to Instagram and check what time their favourite band is playing. This year saw Glastonbury become the UK’s first 5G-connected festival thanks to a temporary trial 5G network from EE. 5G-powered Wi-Fi meant that even those with 4G phones could make use of the new technology.

Sporting events will also be enhanced by the arrival of 5G, with new innovations helping to make the fan experience more interactive. Immersive experiences such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and 360-degree video will help to boost fan engagement and improve the live experience.

Faster data speeds will enhance smart stadium apps, which include interactive maps to help fans find their seats, along with the ability to order half-time snacks from their smartphones. FC Barcelona’s Nou Camp, the largest stadium in Europe, is set to be the world’s first stadium with permanent 5G coverage, setting the pace for other sporting venues around the world.

Retail at the edge

Another area where consumers will really feel the benefit of 5G is shopping. A combination of 5G and edge computing will reinvent the shopping experience, seamlessly integrating the physical and digital worlds.

Processing data at edge locations, closer to the source of the data, means better performance and reliability as well as a reduction in the lack of bandwidth. Additionally, this results in low latency that enables shoppers to benefit from immersive and interactive technologies such as AR, allowing them to virtually try out products.

What’s more, processing real-time data at the edge means that in-store shoppers can enjoy hyper-personalised experiences. For example, customers can benefit from receiving targeted discounts that have been generated by machine learning, based on online shopping habits. From intelligent shop signage to smart payment technology, innovations in smart retail are set to be huge in the 5G era. In fact, the value of the smart retail market is predicted to reach a staggering $58.23 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research.

Smart Cities

5G-powered smart cities will also have an impact on consumers daily lives. In particular, the next generation of network connectivity will pave the way for autonomous cars. With one connected vehicle alone estimated to generate up to 4TB each day, 5G will be absolutely essential.

As the number of autonomous vehicles on the roads rises, we can expect purpose-built autonomous vehicles that are designed to serve as experience pods that offer dining and hospitality services whilst in transit. Intel refer to this as the Passenger Economy, which is predicted to be worth a staggering $7 trillion by 2050. Not only could this extra free time influence our shopping habits, working culture and social lives, it will drive and accelerate our video content consumption, reaching new audiences due to a reduced “trade off” between quality and speed when it comes to streaming.

Social media is still a relatively new technology, having existed for just over a decade, but it was 4G that made it go mainstream. Similarly, 5G is set to move social media on to the next level. We can expect to stream longer-form video content with 8k resolution and almost zero log time. and even innovations like AI-powered video curation. In just a few years’ time, our social lives could be dominated by a social platform that doesn’t yet exist.

5G is set to have a significant impact on the way we live our daily lives. As well as the benefits outlined here, there are likely to be more changes on the way that aren’t even apparent to us yet. With the arrival of 5G, business models will need to adapt to keep up with consumer expectations and the new experiences unlocked by the power of 5G.

Experts featured:

Alex Gledhill

Global Account Director - Vodafone


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