So what is 5G?
5G is the next generation of wireless connectivity. Through a combination of technologies—including millimeter waves, small cells and fiber—5G is capable of delivering data rates as high as 1 gigabit per second. That’s 20x faster than current networks and comparable to the speeds you get from a wired connection like cable or fiber optic internet service. That’s a big deal. To see why, let’s dive in.
How will this differ from 4G?
Each generation of wireless technology has brought us new technologies and innovation. The shift from first generation (1G) to 2G brought us digital voice and text messaging. Then 3G gave us our first look at mobile data. 4G (or LTE) was a transformation in its own right. Its faster speeds brought about the sharing economy, navigation software and accelerated the use of social media. But the transition from 4G to 5G is less like those previous evolutions and more like the transition from dial-up internet to broadband. Yes, broadband made our internet connections faster, but it also led to a flood of new innovation—it transformed the way we consume media, get our information, conduct business and more. 5G is about more than speed, however. It drastically increases the number of simultaneous devices that can be efficiently managed on a wireless network—opening new possibilities for wearables, machine-to-machine communications and internet of things technologies. We can predict some of the developments that 5G will bring, but some we can’t even imagine yet. So let’s talk about what we know so far about how 5G will improve the way of life for you and your community.
A safer, healthier community.
Faster, improved communications will bring new efficiencies to diagnosing and treating illnesses and will make responding to emergencies more effective.
- Wearable devices will allow better, more accurate health monitoring—alerting people and their healthcare professionals about potential concerns in real time.
- Advanced robotics and real-time video and data transmissions will allow doctors to diagnose and perform procedures from thousands of miles away.
- Emergency responders may soon have access to more advanced augmented reality (AR) technology that will overlay critical information on top of the live scene as they work.
- Remote-controlled emergency response tools can arrive before ambulances and relay critical information to responders en route.
More efficient, faster-moving cities.
Bringing wireless sensors and transmitters to our traffic infrastructure promises to make roads safer, ease congestion and reduce pollution.
- Connected roads can process traffic information, weather conditions, pedestrian activity, accident information and then respond accordingly to keep roads moving safely.
- Emergency vehicles can automatically be given priority access, enabling quicker response time to emergencies.
- Connected cars will benefit from 5G’s fast, dependable, low-latency networks to operate at scale—reducing accidents, pollution and saving thousands of lives a year.
- Connected buses, trains and other public transportation will be more reliable and provide up-to-date, real-time information to passengers.
New opportunities in business and commerce.
We don’t yet know all the new innovations 5G will bring. That’s part of what makes it so exciting. But it’s already clear that it will launch new industries and fundamentally change how many existing businesses operate:
- AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) technologies in classrooms, libraries and museums will transform the way we learn—and explore the world.
- By combining the digital world with the real world in front of you, new technologies will merge online and in-store experiences. Many experts predict that 5G will pave the way for new developments in AR and VR technologies that could spur entire new industries.
- Connected machinery is making industries like manufacturing, construction and mining safer and more efficient. Remote controlled machinery allows for safer responses to emergency situations such as landslides, earthquakes, flooding and fires.
Putting it all together.
All these new developments and technologies will come together in exciting and unexpected ways. Improved sustainability, increased economic development and enhanced quality-of-life are only the beginning. Smarter, better-connected cities will be safer and more efficient. With useful, real-time information, community needs can be anticipated and proactively met—resulting in better services for everything from waste disposal to energy consumption to public transportation. It’s so much more than faster connections. It’s a revolution in the way we live, work and play.
Getting ready for what's next.
At this point, we’re only scratching the surface, but it will be exciting to see what innovators, developers and technologists will come up with when they have the unlimited potential of 5G at their disposal. For our part, we’ve been installing thousands of small cells in cities and communities across the country, improving current wireless service and allowing people to stay connected. Small cells will play a crucial role in eventually delivering 5G technologies to your community—along with the economic activity that will follow. By some estimates, that’s $400B in GDP nationwide. To put that in more relatable terms, a city with 30,000 people could expect to add 300 jobs and $50M to their economy.* That’s why we’re continuing to work closely with municipalities, utilities and communities to build the communications infrastructure that will bring 5G to your life.
*Smart Cities: How 5G Can Help Municipalities Become Vibrant Smart Cities, AccentureStrategy, 2017