5G: Get set for life in the fast lane with hyper-connectivity

Alex Gledhill

Your future health depends on it, driverless cars can’t prosper without it and important events will flourish with it – 5G is the pivot upon which future technologies are balanced. With the pace of innovation accelerating, the path is being set for the arrival of the next generation of wireless technology, bringing industries and businesses together to facilitate their shared futures.

But how will 5G make a difference to your life? Most people will equate the progress from 3G to 4G with their mobile phones, but the next wave of wireless is off the Richter-scale in terms of its industrial capabilities.

Companies are investing huge amounts of capital in 5G because of its potential to connect cities of self-driving cars, put the pow-pow factor into entertainment experiences and improve our medical care. According to research firm IHS Markit, the number of things connected to the internet will reach 20 billion this year, 30.7 billion in 2020 and more than 75 billion by 2025, says Alex Gledhill, global account director, ‎Intel Corporation.

To meet the infrastructural demands of such growth, technology companies, academics and local authorities have to work together to investigate and accelerate the development of 5G. Only together can they hail a new era of interconnectedness, where cars, industrial automation, AR and VR experiences will rely on a robust wireless network.

Unlocking the true potential of self-driving cars requires a reliable, robust, and pervasive wireless network. Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, recently said each autonomous car is expected to generate up to 4,000 GB of data per day, every day — that’s the data equivalent of almost 3,000 people. Therefore, secure wireless networks will be essential to enable autonomous cars to crunch through terabytes of data per car, every day.

Autonomous cars rely on a slew of sensors including cameras, light detection and radar, that identify information about the environment around the vehicle. To deliver self-driving cars in the next five years, partnerships will be vital. The automotive industry will need technology expertise, and vice versa, for the successful roll-out of self-driving cars. This will also serve to reduce the costs and complexities at hand.

Meanwhile, sporting fans await the launch of 5G technology and the innovative entertainment experiences promised for spectators at live events. For example, NBC Sports is launching 5G video that will let viewers stream events, such as the Super Bowl and 2018 Winter Olympics, with hugely reduced buffering and gaps in time between the real event and action on the screen.

In the future, spectators could also use their mobile devices to watch the events from different vantages — switching between a player’s camera-mounted helmet, a bird’s eye view and a traditional side-on view. Partnerships already exist that are trialling out the 5G networks, to provide unique experiences indoor and outdoor with smart stadiums.

Back at home, 5G connections will improve our digital devices and deliver high quality medical care in real-time at an affordable cost. Making accessible healthcare a reality, 5G networks will facilitate, complex, remote diagnosis in the future. In turn, patient-centric, digitally integrated healthcare will bolster the democratisation of services.

Meanwhile, for VR to truly play a role in the medical education of students, beaming surgical examinations to the homes and classrooms of students around the world, 5G will be essential. In the future, surgeons will be able to carry out operations using VR, but this will require robust, reliable networks first. In which case, the development of healthcare infrastructure, investment and research will be crucial as stakeholders collaborate in order to pave the way for faster systems and intelligent networks.

To overcome potential barriers and lay the groundwork for a full 5G service, it is important that companies are working together and trialling solutions. While 5G isn’t expected until around 2020, it hasn’t stopped industry leaders such as Verizon and AT&T from laying its foundations with the development of fixed wireless networks. While these efforts may seem relatively small, they will mean fewer delays on the delivery of 5G in the future.

An understanding and close collaboration between local authorities and industry will also lower barriers to telecoms infrastructure deployment. Partnerships will be able to complement each other by sharing resources and risks. Partnering with other industry leaders will enhance the understanding of the industry’s direction and competitive landscape. These partnerships give organisations the chance to potentially influence the direction of the innovation.

Looking ahead, 5G connectivity is set to enrich most aspects of out daily lives, enabling self-driving vehicles, remote healthcare, real-time entertainment and providing assurances of a smart, connected future. Today’s progress in connectivity is in the meantime, paving the way toward this future, with collaboration only accelerating its growth.

The author of this blog is Alex Gledhill, global account director, ‎Intel Corporation

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