After many years of anticipation, 5G networks are currently going live around the world. And the interest for 5G is high among consumers. People expect the new technology to deliver both better performance and completely new services, like AR/VR experiences, live entertainment and mobile gaming. Considering the high demand, 5G represents a great potential for service providers to create and capture new value in the consumer business.
What will it mean for you?
What is 5G?
Fifth generation (5G) wireless broadband is the latest advance in cellular technology. 5G will greatly increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks and expand them to enable hundreds of thousands of connections. 5G offers greater capacity, higher data rates and much lower latency—and it will support further innovations such as the internet of things (IoT) and network slicing, creating a smarter, more connected world.
How long will it take for 5G technology to arrive?
The launch of 5G was officially slated for 2020, but its development has been well underway for some time with many companies having already introduced early versions of 5G devices, applications and networks. However, it still may take a few years before we see the full potential and benefits of 5G.
Consumer Benefits of 5G
- Connected vehicles
With 5G comes unprecedented speed and connectivity—the kind needed to make autonomous, or self-driving, cars a reality. 5G networks have what it takes to allow faster-than-ever communication and data processing between vehicles, networks, infrastructure and even pedestrians. In other words, 5G networks will facilitate communication between everything on the road—from lampposts to gas stations—in the interest of safety and traffic management.
Big changes are on the horizon for smartphones—and 5G devices will soon become the norm. The main advantage of 5G over 4G for users is better coverage, i.e., signals will hit previously hard-to-reach places with connection guaranteed as part of service plans. What’s more, subscribers will finally get the extraordinary quality they expect on their devices, with downloads predicted to have no perceptible delay.
- Streaming and entertainment
5G offers a striking advantage over previous technologies, with virtually unlimited capacity and short lag times. In addition to better quality and considerably faster streaming, 5G promises revolutionary immersive experiences, including multisensory digital content thanks to increased capacity that will support technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D.
Delivering 5G experience to consumers
5G services and applications are a potential goldmine for carriers. But with ever-growing consumer expectations, how can carriers make sure they deliver the 5G experience and take full advantage of the new revenue streams? 5G promises a range of use cases including IoT, industrial IoT, smart cities and transportation and real-time video—but guaranteeing the performance of these new services and applications will require flawless service assurance solutions. And to support these diverse industry use cases, carriers must transform their network architecture.
5G innovations and the diverse service demands also bring significant network and operational complexity. CSPs must implement high levels of network automation to tackle this 5G complexity and keep operational costs in check. An assurance-led network automation approach can help CSPs to operationalize 5G at scale.
We’ve only begun to see the benefits of 5G technology, with early buildouts and use cases just being launched. 5G’s extraordinary speeds, greater capacity and virtually unlimited connectivity will allow consumers to enjoy a smarter, more connected world with, among other things, better mobile service, safer streets and enhanced entertainment. 5G represents a huge potential for new revenue streams for carriers, too.
5G IoT Applications and Use Cases
As 5G rolls out, what new IoT applications will we see? What 5G use cases will be enabled by the higher bandwidth and faster throughput? Will life change as we know it?
Yes, life will change with 5G and the anticipated applications it will enable, but not ubiquitously. There will be a growing divide of network connectivity and services between urban and rural areas because it is impractical to deploy 5G everywhere right away.
Autonomous vehicles are one of the most anticipated 5G applications. Vehicle technology is advancing rapidly to support the autonomous vehicle future. Onboard computer systems are evolving with levels of compute power previously only seen in data centers.
We hear about autonomous vehicles today, and many people wonder what the barriers are to making this future technology a reality. Many different developments in vehicle technology, network speed, data throughput and machine learning must come together for the fully autonomous vehicle future to materialize.
5G networks will be an enormous enabler for autonomous vehicles, due to the dramatically reduced latency, as vehicles will be able to respond 10-100 times faster than over current cellular networks.
The ultimate goal is a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication network. This will enable vehicles to automatically respond to objects and changes around them almost instantaneously. A vehicle must be able to send and receive messages in milliseconds in order to brake or shift directions in response to road signs, hazards and people crossing the street.
Let’s compare 4G and 5G latency: Presume a car traveling down the road at 30 miles per hour needs to receive a signal to avoid hitting an object. With current 4G latency at around 100 milliseconds, a car would travel about 4 feet or 1.2 meters. With 5G latency around 10 milliseconds, the vehicle would only have traveled 5 inches or 12 centimeters. The difference is significant and could mean life or death.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
The low latency of 5G will make AR and VR applications both immersive and far more interactive. In industrial applications, for example, a technician wearing 5G AR goggles could see an overlay of a machine that would identify parts, provide repair instructions, or show parts that are not safe to touch. The opportunities for highly responsive industrial applications that support complex tasks will be extensive.
In business environments, you can have AR meetings where it appears two people are sitting together in the same room, turning boring phone or 2D video conferences into more interactive 3D gatherings.
5G in Sports
Sporting events and experiences will likely be some of the top applications for 5G in the consumer space. Anytime you need to react quickly to a stimulus, such as in a sports training application, it must happen with minimal latency. For example, if two people wearing 4G LTE goggles were trying to kick a a soccer ball back and forth, it would be very difficult to correctly time their response, because by the time their brain has received the input that the ball has come to them, it’s too late. But with 5G goggles, the lower latency enables the receiver to see the ball and kick it back before it passes.
We will also see more immersive experiences with AR in sports arenas. If you have a 5G phone and AR, virtual players will welcome you and cheer you up as you walk in. And during the game, you will be able to see larger-than-life replays and player stats.
In entertainment, expect to see more hologram entertainers and greeters. For example, we will be able to bring Elvis Presley or Patsy Cline back to life via holograms. Or you can create your personal AR dance partner.
5G IoT Applications for Drones
Drones have a vast and growing set of use cases today beyond the consumer use for filming and photography. For example, utilities are using drones today for equipment inspection. Logistics and retail companies are looking at drone delivery of goods. The trend will continue, and together with 5G we will be able to push limits of drones that exist today, especially in range and interactivity.
Today drones are limited to line of site and distance of the controller. If you can’t see the drone or it is out of range, you cannot see where it’s going and maintain control. With 5G, however, you will be able to put on goggles to “see” beyond current limits with low latency and high resolution video. 5G will also extend the reach of controllers beyond a few kilometers or miles. These advances will have implications for uses cases in search and rescue, border security, surveillance, drone delivery services and more.
Massive IoT Use Cases for 5G
One of the upcoming challenges of IoT will be its explosive growth. Statistica/IHS predicts that the ratio of worldwide, IoT connected devices per human on the planet will increase from the 2 per person today to 10 per person by 2025. The projected number of connected devices requiring a data connection places significant demands on the communications infrastructure – e.g. cellular towers. While 4G is addressing this need pretty well today in areas with relatively good cell density, this will improve even more with 5G.
Applications That Will Benefit from Massive IoT – Wearables and Mobile
What would trigger such a growth in connected IoT devices? Wearables, trackers, and sensors will be a big market for the Massive IoT aspect of 5G. Consider when all of your gadgets, appliances and machines you are interacting with on a daily basis are directly connected over a cellular connection, in addition to phones, tablets and laptops that are already connected today. 5G will enable far more devices to operate seamlessly (without perceived delays, dropped signals, and so on) in any given area.
Higher bandwidth applications like 4K and in the future 8K streaming, or 360 degree video will enable high-quality, immersive experiences at real-time speeds for consumers. As the viewer you will be able to control the angle you want to take. For example in a video car race, you can look around and see who is next to or behind you.
5G will also change how companies think about business connectivity. Today you might have a fiber, DSL or cable modem line to connect your business for primary connectivity, and cellular backup in case your primary connection goes down. But with 5G, cellular can become your primary connection, with its high bandwidth, reliability and low latency. You won’t have to worry about building wiring and the related installation costs. With cellular, you receive the equipment, you plug it in and it works.
5G will be transformational and enable many new applications that are not viable today, particularly in urban areas and cities. 5G use cases will not be limited to a particular area: consumers, businesses, industries, and cities will benefit from one or multiple dimensions of 5G technology in the coming months.