How 5G will drive the fourth industrial revolution
The first industrial revolution was driven by steam, the second by electricity, and the third by IT. We’re now in the midst of the fourth, and while it’s often said to be driven by AI, the real power behind this new wave of change could be the fifth-generation wireless technology, 5G.
5G isn’t just about super-fast data. Its real value is not its speed, but its incredible impact on latency – cutting it down to under 2 milliseconds. An effectively latency-free network could spark an explosion of innovation.
With devices now able to interact and exchange data in real time, we could see not only dramatic improvements to existing technologies that have been held back by network latency, but completely new technologies that haven’t even been possible until now.
5G will have a massive positive impact on autonomous cars and vehicle-to-vehicle communication, where minimal latency could mean the difference between crashing and not.
Tactile internet tools with 5G could make the dream of real-time human-machine interaction a reality, enabling surgeons to perform remote operations, students to experience remote hands-on learning, and consumers to touch their loved ones across oceans.
Factory robots, high resolution streaming and conferencing, multiplayer mobile gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality, and drone navigation are other areas that struggle with today's 4G networks and could gain a massive boost from 5G.
And of course, the Internet of Things, which already contains 20.4 billion connected devices, will skyrocket when 5G becomes the norm. Much of the enormous volume of data generated will be processed locally at 5G base stations, rather than centrally.
This process, known as edge computing, should lead to much faster computation, which again is vital for autonomous cars and other devices that need to make split-second decisions. Giants like Amazon and Microsoft are already investing major resources in edge computing.
And many smaller businesses are already looking into private wireless 5G networks that will provide employees with ultra-fast, minimal-latency connectivity and enable them to automate processes, collect and analyse data, deploy apps, and connect with customers in new ways.
While it will take a few years to get into full swing, the 5G revolution is coming, and those businesses that think ahead and create a clear strategy to take advantage of it will reap the rewards.