5G: Driving the Global Economy


5G is moving connectivity beyond the mobile

Many smartphone users remember 3G mobile connectivity, which, despite its slow speed, allowed access to the internet from almost anywhere. Various 4G technologies overtook 3G and provided far greater speed, and 4G LTE technology still dominates the market. Recently, however, many have heard about 5G technology. While the speed gains it presents will be significant, 5G technology provides much more than a raw boost in speed – it’s poised to revolutionize so many fields.

Laurence Norman, VP Technology at NTT DATA believes 5G will be ill be “life changing” & “economy changing”.

While 4G speeds vary, 5G is expected to provide around 10 times more throughput that current 4G technologies. Video streaming over 4G is typically excellent, but 5G technology will be able to stream at an 8K video resolution, which is greater than typical movie theater screens. This speed can also provide better reliability, as users will be able to download an entire video in seconds and leave towers free to handle other users. Video consumes a significant amount of internet traffic, and 5G technology will provide a boon.

Moving Beyond Smartphones

Smart devices consume a majority of 4G traffic, but this might change when 5G technology comes online. The Internet of Things relies on low-cost sensors, and low-cost 5G chips will enable them to operate in a more versatile manner. Augmented reality is also expected to play a major role in our futures, and smart glasses and other tools can depend on 5G to provide the performance users will demand. Current 4G technology simply lacks the bandwidth these new technologies will require, and many IoT and AR devices depend on WiFi connections. When 5G is available, these technologies will be usable over a larger geographical range.

Although the IoT will be critical for industry, agriculture, and government fields, smaller businesses can take advantage of the 5G-enabled IoT as well. Smart business practices let companies stay connected regardless of location, and they enable virtual offices not possible with existing technology. Expect to see 5G-enabled devices in your home. Smart thermostats, for example, provide easy connectivity, while home automation will let us control our homes in a seamless manner through 5G connections.

Cars and Robotics

Self-driving cars are coming online. While 4G technology might be sufficient for some time, 5G technology will be critical for bringing the technology into the mainstream. In addiction to faster data transfer, 5G technology will also provide lower latency. Furthermore, the dream of self-driving cars revolves around connected cars, as cars that can speak to each other can maximize traffic flow and safety. The sheer bandwidth provided by 5G connectivity will offer the bandwidth needed. Furthermore, people commuting in self-driving cars will undoubtedly want to work or enjoy entertainment while en route, both of which will require more bandwidth than 4G can handle.

Perhaps the biggest change to robots in recent years is that they’re no longer tied to single locations as they were in the past, and this mobility will be play a key role in leveraging the power of robotics. Combined with 5G technology, robots will be capable of far more. Furthermore, 5G technology can allow people to perform precision work from across the globe. Surgery, for example, is too sensitive a task to leave to 4G technology. However, surgeons paired with robotics through 5G connectivity can make remote surgery a viable option.

The Rollout

As a leading innovator in mobile networking, Nokia making strides in the global 5G roll-out. Major providers are looking to incorporate 5G technology ahead of what experts projected, and Nokia has recently formed a partnership with China Mobile, which provides service to more than 870 million people. At the core of this technology is Nokia’s Future X 5G networking infrastructure, which will serve as the backbone of China Mobile’s mobile connectivity should the collaboration continue beyond testing and research phases.

Nokia’s Phil Twist believes the infrastructure will serve as “a blueprint” for the ideal 5G network architecture.

Nokia’s project with China Mobile will incorporate developing standards. As the IoT is expected to be a major user of 5G technology, Nokia will support NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) technology to allow further testing and enable unprecedented latency and throughput capabilities. Nokia’s Multi-access Edge Control (MEC) platform is also leading to enthusiasm as it complements the emerging field of edge computing and can help push the IoT and related technology by providing an abstracted means of handle data transfer.

As part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 initiative, Nokia are also spearheading a two year research project by in collaboration with Deutsche Telekom and the Port of Hamburg, which aims to test 5G network slicing for industrial use-cases.

For consumers who don’t stream especially large video, the advent of 5G is likely to be a transparent one as existing 4G technology is more than sufficient for most cases. However, the benefits of 5G will transcend download speeds and enable a wide range of new paradigms for businesses and individuals alike. While it will take some time for networks to roll out, the change will be significant.

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