5G delivers: faster service will benefit businesses and consumers (Reader Forum)
5G technology is still in its infancy, with widespread deployment not expected until about 2021, yet as we enter the limited test phase, it’s time for businesses to begin considering just how powerful this technology will be. With increased speed, efficiency, and broader IoT deployment, 5G can open doors to innovative engagement practices, improve customer satisfaction, and fundamentally transform how we use digital content.
A 5G strategy
One of the most central things tech companies can do in preparation for the launch of 5G is to develop a business strategy that integrates high-speed enabled technology. For example, with increasing 5G access, companies will be able to run data-intensive programs anywhere which means smoother file transfers and seamless video conferences. Need to talk to partners on the other side of the country or around the world? Not only can you connect, but you can also launch supplementary engagement with augmented or virtual reality features.
The run-up to 5G is an opportunity for businesses to think big from a strategic standpoint. That means thinking about your business’s current mission but also taking time to assess where you want your company to be five years down the road. What do you hope to offer your clients that just isn’t possible now? You need to start working towards those goals so you’re not behind the eight ball when broad 5G availability arrives.
The IoT angle
Of all the areas we can expect to evolve with 5G, IoT is one of the largest. In particular, the expanding IoT network will enable efficient smart cities. Las Vegas has already begun beta testing smart city technology with limited 5G connectivity, enabling local fleet and asset management, monitoring energy use and traffic patterns, and transforming traditional signage, parking, and waste management systems.
An EduTech evolution
In-school connectivity has the potential to improve our students’ educations dramatically, but because of tight budgets and sub-par technology access, most students aren’t benefitting from 21st-century technology. 5G connectivity, in partnership with edutech companies, could change all that.
Schools in North Dakota, for example, are currently partnering with Microsoft to deploy student-oriented identity management software, implement Office Online and OneDrive in schools, and prepare students for the workplace with advanced peer-to-peer networking technology. Students and educators are demanding this kind of technology-centered education, but without the ensured connectivity provided by 5G, we can’t be sure that such technology will be available to all students.
Finally, as healthcare costs increase and access to specialized doctors declines, telemedicine may be the only hope for isolated and underinsured patients. The only problem is that telemedicine is insufficient from a treatment standpoint. 5G offers us the opportunity to transform simple telemedicine conferencing into remote surgery.
Using a combination of virtual reality and a low-latency robotic arm, surgeons will be able to operate from anywhere. First, 5G technology means there will be no noticeable delay in the connection between devices, no matter how far apart they are. And second, improved haptic technology will allow the remote surgeon to feel like they are touching the body they’re operating on. The same technology could also be used to perform complex mechanical operations in manufacturing, agriculture, and other fields.
Ultimately, as your business prepares for 5G deployment, you’re also preparing for an explosion in the sheer number of devices in play. Right now there are about 8.4 billion connected devices in use, but by the time 5G is broadly available, there will be about 20 million devices. That means we’re not just exploding connectivity speeds, but also the processing power on the other end. It’s the combination of the two that will reshape how we think about communication, collaboration, and transformation.