5G will mark the beginning of a fourth industrial revolution: industry 4.0, ultra connected, computerized and digitized. But what will be the concrete effects on the professional world and the mobile workforce?
Promises of 5G…
Interest in 5G is undeniable in Europe, where data consumption doubles each year due to user enthusiasm for services such as streaming. This trend will only increase as 4K and 8K resolutions become more popular.
On the professional side, the ability to connect billions of devices to form an Internet of Things (IoT) network is the most obvious advantage of a 5G connection. This will not only allow the industry to multiply its automation potential, but will also free up digital transformation opportunities on a whole new level with virtual and augmented reality, robotics, time translation digital applications in the fields of training or health.
But how will 5G lead to such developments? While the shift from 4G to 5G seems a minimal change in language, in technological terms the distinction is enormous. 5G has enough capacity to support extreme mobile broadband – Enhanced mobile broadband, up to 20GB/s – which is ten times the speed of the 4G LTE network. A two-hour film could be downloaded in just three seconds.
5G would also offer much better reliability and low latency (one-tenth of that of 4G LTE), two essential criteria for critical machine type communication used in remote operation of production sites and other industrial control applications.
It would also allow an impressive increase in the connectivity of mass machine-type communications (massive Machine Type Communication) with one million connections per square kilometer, ten times more than the 4G LTE.
Finally, 5G networks would gain flexibility through network slicing. This practice involves dividing a network into several “slices” in order to obtain several virtual networks that operators can use depending on the uses. Companies could also use it to create their own private 5G networks.
… to a more nuanced reality
If this sounds too good to be true, it is because there are still some challenges for mobile network providers, as well as for businesses. Until now, the deployment of 5G service has relied on a frequency band of less than 6 GHz. This was a relatively simple upgrade for the mobile network and smartphones, but insufficient to exploit the full potential of 5G in terms of bandwidth. This is where the millimetre wavelength comes in.
Recently, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon explained that “real 5G actually combines bands under 6 GHz and millimeter bands and that’s what we’re going to see globally. Our predictions are that all the world’s largest economies will have deployed the millimetre band by 2021. As soon as you think about when you think about how to use it beyond smartphones, its need becomes obvious.”
According to him, millimetre waves are thus at the heart of the conversation across many industries and will be included in public as well as private 5G networks. He adds that dynamic spectrum sharing capabilities will lead to an upgrade of 4G bands, which will co-exist with 5G.
Qualcomm sees enormous commercial potential. According to the results of its study, 5G is expected to generate a value of up to $12.3 trillion (10.9 trillion euros) in goods and services by 2035 in the retail, health, education, transport and Entertainment.
Qualcomm also estimates that the value chain created by the 5G contribution could generate revenues of up to $3.5 trillion (3.09 trillion euros) in 2035 and be the source of up to 22 million jobs. The company also predicted that 5G would feed the global GDP of $3 million (2.65 million euros) in total over the period 2020-2035.
So what are these famous cases of professional use other than smartphones that would support such growth?
As numerous as they are diverse, they will benefit a wide range of sectors. Smart plant and production are two obvious winners of the marked improvement in automation and efficiencies due to IoT connectivity. 5G’s potential for automated vehicles, remote control and operational automation is also expected to revolutionize logistics and transportation. In retail, the shopping experience could be transformed by augmented reality applications served by 5G networks, while IoT-connected devices could mean unprecedented supply chain optimization . Everything suggests that the deployment of 5G networks across Europe portends great opportunities for the professional world. So it’s the perfect time to start planning what profit your business and industry could gain from these technologies, so you can get ahead of the competition. It’s also an opportunity to explore the benefits they could bring to your mobile workforce in terms of efficiency, productivity and the work environment.