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What Would a 5G Enabled Future Look and Feel like?


A new technological revolution is set to begin with 5G which will create massive disruptions in perceiving and using tech. 5G is estimated to reach around 34% of the global population over the next four years.

According to Ericsson’s Mobility Report released in June 2019, 5G subscriptions will reach 1.9 billion by the end of 2024, making up over 20% of all mobile subscriptions at that time. So, while we’re still quite early in the game, it is not too soon to start thinking about the 5G implications for your business, both positive and negative. What would a 5G enable future look and feel like?

5G is the next generation of mobile networks that will allow us to have higher speed and lower latency. To put it in layman’s terms, 5G will allow us to do everything that we currently do, but at a much higher speed. It runs on radio frequencies ranging from below 1 GHz all the way up to very high frequencies, called “millimetre wave” (or mmWave).

Imagine a world with smart glasses, VR, and drones co-operating to carry out emergency missions and communicating on wireless with each other and ground base stations over 5G networks, all in real-time.

5G networks are part of a major digital transformation trend that is impacting consumer behavior, public sector engagement, and enterprise spaces. New devices and applications are emerging in the market that takes advantage of the dramatically reduced latency and much higher throughput that 5G offers. 5G is set to usher in an accelerated adoption of smart cities, smart factories, next generation in-store experiences, autonomous cars, and much more. The excitement is just beginning.

The horizon of possibility with 5G

So far, we have used technology to make our lives easier. You press a button on your screen, and numerous calculations deliver your foods and goods at your doorstep. Wearable technology, to improve the human lifespan, is just the beginning of the technological revolution we are about to witness. There is a high chance technology will soon be embedded inside us.

Businesses want to embark on the 5G journey faster than communication vendors can provide it. Furthermore, they plan to use 5G networks mainly for IoT communications, with operational efficiency as a critical driver.

5G has the potential to transform industries – we’re talking about the Enterprise of Things that includes networked industrial devices, sensors, networks, and apps that connect businesses. 5G is all set to revolutionize the various sectors of the industry by delivering multi-Gbps data speeds, massive network capacity, and ultra-low latency for promising more reliability and increased availability.

The world is noticing a significant shift in industries and quite interesting partnerships among Mobile Network Operators (MNO) and hyperscalers such as Microsoft, AWS and Google. MNOs enjoy an edge because they own infrastructures for edge technologies, which will force hyperscalers to partner with them. There is mounting evidence that suggests that AWS, Microsoft, and Google are moving fast and developing their edge infrastructure. We should expect big ripples in the tech world over the next decade.

Unlike previous cellular standards that were solely focused on person-to-person (P2P) communication, 5G will be the first to enable a foundation that is competent at handling both machine-to-machine (M2M) and person-to-person (P2P) communication.

It is estimated that 1.5 BILLION connections, covering 34% of the global population, will be well established, covering 25% of all mobile data, influencing & creating new markets.

5G will bring a whole new range of products to the market, ranging from a simple 5G-enabled phone to a fridge that orders food from local grocery shops according to how your day is going in traffic. Get ready for that extra scoop of ice cream when you get back home!

Every app and website is moving towards a better user experience to keep us interested and will undergo a redesigning phase. Technologies like VR & AR will get more common in regular use. Companies, like Instagram, that are focusing on redesigning their app, will develop a new dopamine response cycle to keep the users on their platform for longer as the technology will get faster.

To be successful in 5G world, Partnering and collaboration with MNO and 5G ecosystem players would be of utmost importance as operators sit at the center of new ecosystems developed around the ultra-reliable low latency, real time data at scale and responsiveness that the ‘edge cloud’ delivers.

All hyperscalers are working in establishing the partnership and ecosystem around 5G and Edge computing. Microsoft is leading the bandwagon with couple of acquisitions (e.g., Metaswitch, Affirmed) and broader ecosystem partnerships.

Risks on the way

However significant 5G may seem right now, but the industry is still very much at the infant stage. A major downside of 5G adoption is that it puts the entire service provider ecosystem at great risk for cyberattacks. With consumers and businesses becoming steadily reliant on digital services, security shouldn’t be an afterthought.

Securing applications and data across the network, endpoints, data centers, branch locations, and cloud remains the critical challenge. As key enablers of the 5G value chain, mobile network operators are in a position to enable connection and security of the 5G digital economy.

There are few potential health risks that we can encounter during the transition to the world of 5G. Various studies back the fact that frequencies with power densities of less than 6 MW/cm2 result in various health issues, the most severe one being DNA damage. Long term exposure low-intensity EHF EMR has severe effect on non-specific immunity indices.

While that should concern us, it shouldn’t have us overly worried.

5G is an evolution. 5G networks and devices continue to evolve. The arrival of 5G technologies will transform how consumers live and how businesses interact with customers. You want to start planning for 5G now, but depending on your application, you may deploy 5G devices as early as 2021. The 5th Generation of networking will revolutionize how we live and function in this world, and we are right in the middle of it.

(The author Gaurav Aggarwal is Global Lead of Everything on Azure Solution Strategy & GTM at Avanade and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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