Benefits of 5G: How the technology will change the world around us

By Lucy Ingham

5G technology is currently being rolled out around the world, with the advanced network infrastructure, data plans and contracts already live in a number of major cities, and far more to come. But when it comes to the benefits of 5G, there is far more to the technology than speed.

According to data and analytics company GlobalData, while 5G will offer improved speeds and lower latency, where we will really see the difference is in the super-charging of other emerging technologies.

“In addition to the striking speed, which enables data transmission between two end systems almost instantly, 5G’s ability to connect thousands of such devices at once with lower latency, higher reliability and lesser battery consumption lays a strong foundation for the effective adoption of emerging technologies,” said Archi Dasgupta, director of disruptive tech at GlobalData.

As a result, the most impactful benefits of 5G are set to be in how the technology improves other technologies, by creating an underlying platform that enables emerging technologies to be deployed more efficiently – and in some cases in completely new ways.

Here are some of the areas the technology is set to benefit the most.

Benefits of 5G for the internet of things

The internet of things (IoT) attracts a lot of discussion, but right now it doesn’t have a major impact on our daily lives.

While most of us have access to some form of IoT device, be it a connected printer, wearable device or other gadget, 5G will enable IoT technologies to be deployed in far greater numbers and at higher densities, meaning sensors can be used to monitor the performance and smooth operation of the world around us.

In cities, this means maintenance issues being automatically spotted and dealt with immediately, while in industry it enables more automated operation and system management.

As a result, in high-risk workplaces such as mines, 5G will enable safer operating conditions for human workers, while reducing costs for mine owners. Meanwhile, cities that fully embrace the 5G-enabled IoT are set to see smoother running and management – reducing stress and increasing wellbeing for those that live there.

Benefits of 5G for autonomous vehicles

We all know that autonomous vehicles such as driverless cars and trucks are on their way, but there are a number of vital pieces of the puzzle left to make them a reality.

The ability for different sensors, both within individual cars and wider fleets, to communicate almost instantaneously is essential for their safe operation, and 5G is key to making this happen.

5G will allow the autonomous cars that take us to work in the future operate smoothly and safely, by quickly transmitting key data both within the vehicle’s different systems and to centralised servers as needed.

Benefits of 5G for drones

Drones are one of those technologies that has arrived – but hasn’t yet come close to its potential, particularly in areas such as delivery, monitoring and search and rescue. But according to GlobalData, 5G will take drones to a whole new level.

Near-instant response times will provide a step-change in how drones can read and react to the world around them, allowing them to do all the things they have long been predicted to be used for without risk of falling out of the sky unexpectedly or missing objects around them.

The technology will also see drones filmmaking reach entirely new heights, with the increased bandwidth enabling live 4K streaming from drones. This will be particularly beneficial for live events such as sports, news and concerts, providing live, high-res views of the world that are currently not viable.

The same benefits will also bring powerful improvements to real-world robots, allowing them to react and interact at much greater speeds than is currently possible.

Benefits of 5G for VR

Virtual reality (VR) can already immerse you in wild, fantasy worlds, but the power requirements for top-tier VR mean the technology remains out of reach for most, while those that can afford it are generally tethered to a PC.

5G is set to remove the need for physical cables while dramatically increasing the level of data that can be streamed, allowing high-quality VR to become far cheaper and easier to access, while cutting the cables that limit how and where it is used.

Onto the future

While 5G networks are being rolled out now, and the benefits of 5G are myriad, it will be some time before we see the true advances the technology promises. This is because it will take time for adoption to become widespread, and for the costs associated with it to drop.

However, in time the technology will help create a tech-enabled world that far surpasses the capabilities that we can enjoy today.

“While the commercial adoption of 5G for broader industrial applications is expected to take off in the early 2020s, its mainstream adoption could take longer due to several hurdles–the most crucial being cost,” said Dasgupta.

“As the technology uses a totally different wavelength and needs much higher bandwidth compared to 4G and 3G, it requires network operators to replace the entire existing infrastructure. However, 5G adoptions will increase gradually and complement the effective implementation of emerging technologies.”

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict.

Read more: There’s more to 5G than speed: Why network slicing could be a game changer