Toward 5G: How Will it Digitise Environments?

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Posted by Johan van der Steen on 05 Mar, 2020


No doubt you’ve heard that 5G is being rolled out in the UK and possibly even read the concerning headlines around Huawei.

New 5G-enabled devices are being regularly announced and everyone is getting excited about the groundbreaking experiences that 5G has promised us.

Researchers expect that the 2020 rollout of 5G will provide more opportunities for highly digitised environments. But what exactly does 5G mean? Is it really worth all the hype?


What is 5G?

In its most simple form, 5G simply means “fifth generation”. It’s the world’s latest generation of mobile services since its predecessors, like 4G and 3G. The major telecommunication service providers are already well into their rollout of 5G across the UK, with EE being the first to launch its coverage back in May last year. Vodafone, Three, O2, and Sky all followed shortly after.

The UK isn’t alone of course; China, South Korea, USA, and the EU countries have all made similar headways. With 5G set to become such a major component of the digital world, businesses are being encouraged to consider understanding its impact and the advantages it can bring.

Looking back at when 4G first made its appearance a decade ago, we quickly saw browsing speeds shoot up, video quality drastically improve, and game-changing companies like Uber and Netflix thrive. 4G has had a profound effect on industries and on consumer behaviour.

Therefore, we can expect to see another round of significant transformations in the digital world. 5G’s rollout is expected to be much quicker than 4G’s, so strap in as we should start seeing these changes soon. We will start seeing a world in which a company’s hundreds of thousands, or even billions, of devices are all dependent on a constant internet connection.


What does 5G enable?


Faster connections

Speed is the name of the game. 5G promises to be up to 100 times faster than 4G, and a staggering 2,000 times faster than 3G. The real results might be different, but still there’s no question that there will be an astronomical shift in speed. Existing and new services that require a fast internet connection, such as ride-share apps, will also be able to better connect to rural areas allowing companies to cater to and connect with a wider network of consumers.


Less lag

On the other side, we’re also going to experience much less latency (lag). Essentially, 5G will have fewer restrictions than 4G, in terms of being able to connect to thousands of devices simultaneously – whether that’s a mobile phone or IoT-related devices.

At Future Platforms, we have had challenges overcoming the issue of a large number of devices trying to connect at once in a small space, with the Glastonbury Festival app. Once a challenge that needed planning around, 5G users will easily expect to effortlessly access data at big events, where previously they got slow service or no signal at all. By allowing data for millions of devices per square km, companies have much higher capabilities in organising big events like Glastonbury Festival and many others, and this will allow smart cities to become a reality.


Better transportation

While big events will definitely benefit from 5G, the transport sector is set to be the real winner. Companies and consumers can already track vehicles with updates every few seconds, pinpointing their vehicle’s location (we even developed a system ourselves with the Domino’s Driver app). With 5G, companies will be in a position where vehicles can communicate their exact position and speed in real time.

Photo by Thanos Pal on Unsplash


This will open up the door for the travel sector to make further developments, such as driverless cars becoming more of a viable option. This means there will be a big payoff for drivers, as cars inch closer to full autonomous capabilities. 5G will add another layer of information that will aid the autonomous driving experience.

As 5G promises greater speeds and data transfer, lower latency, and the capacity to link multiple devices at once, this provides a huge step toward connected and autonomous vehicles.

Companies like Ford and many others are already investing billions into driverless technologies. Ford is one of the first adopters of 5G technology. The company is working with Qualcomm to test car-to-object and car-to-car communications.

5G’s power to capture information will be the real selling point for mobility service providers. It will be interesting to see car companies move into the service side of transportation.

As Barrie Kirk of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence stated: “Car companies know that the real money in the future is to be made on the service side.”

Commuters will definitely see the benefits of a more connected travel experience, as 5G promises to make mobility-as-a-service a reality in the future.


Transform more traditional industries

A number of more traditional industries are set to be transformed with the introduction of 5G. The network’s ability for wider coverage, more stable internet connections, and faster data transfer will create new opportunities for the healthcare and retail industries, for example.

In the healthcare industry, 5G could increase efficiencies, helping health systems create faster, more efficient networks to keep up with the large amounts of data involved. It could also allow greater coverage for rural areas, where previously, travel would be the only way a person could see a doctor. With 5G, remote consultations could become a reality for people living in rural areas. Doctors can make consultations via a video call and even submit prescription requests.

In retail, it’s clear that mobile shopping largely increased with the arrival of 4G. The faster speeds of 5G will bring further advancements in this space, such as virtual reality (VR) dressing rooms.


What does the future hold?

It’s important to note that, while we are walking into the age of 5G, 4G domination will still linger for a bit – especially in rural areas in the UK. Additionally, most users won’t be able to experience 5G immediately, as they will need 5G-enabled devices; certain tech giants, like Apple, are yet to release these. Though, with an estimated 1.9 billion 5G-enabled devices set to ship over in the next five years, we can expect to see 5G reign supreme at some point in 2023.

Over the next few years, we’ll start to see new companies, new apps, new technologies, new behaviours, new products, and new experiences for consumers and companies alike. With the expansion of smart cities and increased automation, which will be further enabled by 5G, we can start to see much larger steps towards the reality of Industry 4.0…and, of course, we still have 6G to look forward to.

For detailed insights about what 5G can do for your business, speak to the team at Future Platforms today.


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