How 5G is changing the technology world

It might seem like it was only yesterday that we were amazed by the dizzying speeds of 3G compared to basic GPRS (probably while proudly sporting the latest flip-phone.) But now, almost 20 years later, we’re facing the next generation of mobile connectivity in the shape of 5G. So what is 5G, and what does it mean for the future of business?

5G and the need for speed

In major cities and well-connected areas, most of us have become used to 4G connectivity – or 3G at the very least. We now expect a certain speed on our phones and tablets. But as the number of connected devices is growing and the pressure on existing networks is increasing, manufacturers and operators alike are pushing for capacity upgrades, as well as lower data costs.

5G is now hailed as the network capability that will support the framework for the huge amounts of data required not only to sustain the mobile and tablet market, but to power the large-scale development of Internet of Things. As more elements of our everyday lives become ‘smart’ we will see a significant increase in the information being transmitted, putting extraordinary pressure on the data networks.

How will 5G make a difference?

The key difference between 4G and 5G is not just the increased speed. The main objectives driving the 5G development include the following features:

  • Higher number of connected devices at any one time
  • Higher data volume per area unit
  • Lower battery consumption
  • Better coverage
  • Higher bit rates across larger coverage areas
  • Lower latencies
  • More supported devices
  • Lower infrastructure deployment costs
  • Higher versatility and scalability
  • Higher reliability of communication.

In other words, the result of a 5G rollout would be a super-efficient mobile network, delivering better performance at a lower investment. This would be warmly welcomed by the network operators who are desperate to reduce the cost of data transport at the same rate as the volume of data demand increases.

What 5G means for Internet of Things

Most hardware manufacturers and operators agree that 5G capacity will be critical in paving the way for an IoT future. By 2020, it is estimated that the installed base of IoT devices will have grown to almost 31 billion worldwide. By 2025 that number is likely to be over 75.4 billion devices. In terms of money, the global IoT market is predicted to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 28.5%.

As this sort of growth can’t be sustained by simply relying on the existing networks available, the industry will need to continue working on expanding the capability.

Who will benefit from 5G?

Apart from faster and – presumably more cost-effective – mobile data for the user, 5G would unlock plenty of benefits for the wider industry and governments. As we’ve discussed in previous IoT blogs, IoT may well hold the key to the future of business across a wide range of sectors.

According to GrowthEnablers’ Market Pulse Report The main growth sectors for IoT are…

  • Smart Cities (26%)
  • Industrial IoT (24%)
  • Connected Health (20%)
  • Smart Homes (14%)
  • Connected Cars (7%)
  • Smart Utilities (4%)
  • Wearables (3%)

Based on this list, it’s hard to imagine any industry that wouldn’t be somehow affected by the IoT growth, although the full impact may be difficult to predict.

When will 5G arrive?

5G technology is not yet an agreed industry standard, and deploying 5G still requires a great deal of investment from telecom operators. While 2020 has been set as the target for rollout by most European mobile operators, it is far from a done deal. The success of 5G may depend on moves by competing technologies – as well as the expected rate of return on investment.

Time will tell whether 5G will emerge as the winning network standard, but it’s safe to say that huge, market-changing developments will take place in this field over the next few years.