Since the 1G era, humans have been on a never-ending quest for faster mobile connectivity – moving from generation to generation seeking to transform how we communicate, do business and live. While 4G has enabled smartphone and app development, it is simply not adequate for the next phase of evolution. Pixelated video calls, slow buffering of streamed movies, delays in content sharing; and impossible ride bookings—have plagued us for years. Beyond upgrading these existing 4G-enabled capabilities, 5G provides the massive capacity leap that the world demands to unlock new potential of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), edge compute and the Internet of things (IoT), ushering fundamental shifts in the way we live, work and play.
According to Accenture’s research, the impact of 5G on the United States economy alone will drive up to $2.7 trillion in additional gross output (sales) growth between 2021 and 2025. The impact of 5G on the European economy will drive up to €2.0 trillion in incremental gross output (sales) growth between 2021 and 2025. Over the same period, adding up to €1.0 trillion to European GDP, creating or transforming up to 20 million jobs across all sectors of the economy.
All this goes to show that communications networks are not built-in, and they cannot remain static. Network must be agile during the rise of massive data and constantly changing customer expectations. Enabled by the cloud, 5G networks can provide high-capacity, flexibility, real-time responsiveness, intelligence, reliability, and security for organizations.
As per National Digital Communications Policy report, it is believed that India’s digital economy has the potential to reach $1 trillion by the year 2025, driven by increased proliferation of smartphones, increased internet penetration, growth of mobile broadband and data, and social media. While enhanced mobile broadband and fixed wireless access are expected to be the early use-cases for 5G in India, increased speeds can open new opportunities in enabling smart cities to automate critical functions and transform the healthcare landscape.
5G will fuel new age technologies by offering rich bi-directional communications, a potential to support 1 million devices per square kilometer, and ultra-reliable sub-second response. The capabilities offered by 5G enables a variety of use cases, paving the way for economies to realize the cross-industry benefits of magnified connectivity. South Korea claims the title of offering the fastest 5G in the world at over 400 Mbps—fast enough to download a high-definition movie in two minutes—fixing buffering delays forever. The country leads a top 10 list that includes Norway, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Sweden, China, Taiwan, and New Zealand.
Buffering is but just one analogy, the technology offers much more to transform enterprises and how business is conducted. Let’s look at an example of how 5G will have transformational impact – building smart cities.
Smart cities promise a cleaner, safer, more efficient future for urban citizens. With the application of 5G to smart city development, we can expect to see environments that are fully interconnected, allowing for exceptional services and challenging our notion of what is possible with physical and digital infrastructures.
Let’s break this down further – the individual building blocks that contribute to the overall “smart city” can be further classified into domains that will be impacted and based on solutions that are dependent on 5G vs ones that are enhanced by 5G. The domains will range from mundane areas such as resources in areas specific to building maintenance, smart waste management to mission critical impact areas such as utilities, safety, and security, as well as people in their individual private homes using smart controls, remote learning and personalized services.
While solutions around smart parking and traffic management will be enhanced by 5G, autonomous vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) will be brought to life using 5G.
The key attributes of 5G that will benefit Smart Cities include higher speeds; more connections–enabling wireless connectivity in diverse locations, ranging from streetlights to sewers; quicker, more adaptive response times that support time-sensitive applications, such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications: and ultra-low-power connections, such as sensors for leak detection in water mains.
The benefits? Widespread sensor deployments that enable mitigation of air pollution. Citizens walking on pristine streets without overflowing trash due to the data-led transformation of city maintenance operations. Citizens benefitting from safer driving and less accidents. Citizens receiving better security, employment, and health benefits as a result of enhanced community visibility.
The stage is set, let the action begin
The effective implementation of this technology requires a strategic approach by governments and organizations. The global 5G rollout sets the stage for more low-power, low-latency connected devices. Since 5G rollouts are still in the works, businesses can experiment and pilot new use cases, so they can hit the ground running when it’s more broadly available. Moreover, 5G comes with security and privacy enhancements that businesses must prepare for. Finally, for citizens, the future is about to change for the better and they should gear up to unlock a remarkable level of control, automation, and personalization.
(The author Mathangi Sandilya, Managing Director, Global Technology Lead for Communications & Media, and Products & Platforms Lead for ATCI Cloud First, Accenture and the views expressed in this article are her own)