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In short, it’s the next generation of mobile internet. Several companies have already started to launch 5G networks, but realistically it won’t be widespread enough to reveal its full potential for another few years.
For the average user, it means super-fast downloads and more reliable connections. But 5G networks could have a huge impact on cloud technology and how we use it. The combination of high bandwidth and low latency provides fertile ground for innovation, as the enhanced capacities of wireless internet make it possible to turn theory into reality in a range of industries and aspects of modern life.
Of all the industries that are expected to be transformed by the arrival of 5G technology, manufacturing will experience the greatest changes. According to a study by Ericsson on The 5G Business Potential, the sector will be worth over €100 billion by 2026. Competitiveness is everything in this industry, and innovations in technology will help companies achieve greater efficiency, flexibility, and productivity.
Thanks to the ultra-low latency of 5G, thousands of sensors can be installed to monitor production and send real-time data to the cloud. This enables operators to spot problems and potential improvements in workflows. Since malfunctions can halt production, resulting in serious revenue losses, the ability to prevent failures before they happen is extremely valuable. Companies with 5G-powered IoT solutions could save huge sums by minimising breakdowns and damage, with the predictive maintenance market expected to grow to around €10 billion by 2024.
The rollout of 5G networks will also change how the healthcare industry uses the cloud. High-speed infrastructure will lead to increased use of sensors and smart devices connected to the cloud. These will monitor patient health in real time and notify their doctor if anything requires attention. A pilot scheme carried out by the UK’s NHS found that the data provided by wearables led to a 22% reduction in expensive home visits, freeing up carers and resources. What’s more, according to a survey by Accenture, 86% of doctors agree that wearables increase patient engagement with their own health.
The low latency, extensive coverage, and high reliability of 5G networks could also normalise innovations such as telesurgery and VR rehabilitation. In January 2019, a Chinese surgeon used surgical robots to operate on an animal 30 miles away, and although the reports are unconfirmed, the first telesurgery performed on a person might also have taken place in China in the same year. Digital therapeutics represent another innovative treatment, which uses virtual reality to help people with autism, mental health problems, and substance abuse issues.
The expansion of 5G technology will provide enough speed and bandwidth to make theoretical smart cities a reality in coming years. All over the planet, city planners are looking for innovative ways to improve the environmental, financial, and social aspects of urban life. With millions of IoT devices connected across town, the city’s very infrastructure can be linked to the cloud. Using artificial intelligence to analyse this mass of data could help identify ways to optimise how everything is managed and improve citizens’ lives.
Advances in wireless technology could also lead to innovations in public safety. Video surveillance can be enhanced using 5G to stream real-time recordings to the cloud in ultra-high definition. This would allow the police to identify known criminals or missing people using facial recognition software. In some areas, emergency sensors detect dangerous weather conditions like floods and recommend alternative, safer routes.
For the average user, the arrival of 5G brings the promise of super-fast downloads and reliable connections. However, this technology’s potential goes well beyond your internet use at home. The high speed and low latency of 5G networks are just what we need to unlock the full power of the cloud.
Current technology isn’t powerful or reliable enough to cope with the millions of IoT devices that would need to be deployed throughout urban landscapes to create smart cities. But 5G is. And it also provides connections that are reliable enough to perform delicate surgery remotely or to guide fleets of autonomous vehicles without accidents.
High-speed connectivity with the cloud enables connected devices to send real-time data that can be analysed and acted on instantly, making it possible to turn theory into reality in a range of industries and aspects of modern life.
Industries of all types are counting down the days to widespread 5G coverage in order to unlock the true potential of their digital tools.