The New Era of Connectivity is here: Hello, 5G!
Posted on September 5, 2018

According to IHS Markit report, by 2035, 5G is forecasted to enable USD 12.3 trillion of global economic output, which is greater than the US consumer spending in 2016. 5G will also generate USD 3.5 trillion in output through its global value chain and support 22 million jobs.

5G (Fifth-Generation Network) are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices than ever before.

The First-generation networks were introduced back in the 1980s – they were analogue and only carried voice. In the ‘90s, 2G (second-generation) phones launched which were digital, introducing new features like text messages and picture messages. The early late ‘90s ushered in 3G (third generation) which included video calling and mobile data. Ten years later, 4G was introduced, and these networks and phones were designed to support mobile internet and higher speeds for activities like video streaming and gaming.

The benefits of 5G Network is noteworthy when compared with top-end 4G networks – 4G+, LTE-A or 4.5G. The introduction of 5G brings with itself three new aspects: greater speed in order to move more data, lower latency to be more responsive and ability to connect a lot more devices at once for sensors and smart devices.

Early reports have shown that the 5G promises to offer speeds in range of 1 GB/s to 10 GB/s, which is an almost 1000 times fast than 4G Networks. Along with artificial intelligence (AI) and edge computing, 5G wireless technology will be right at the heart of the escalating IoT revolution over the next half a decade or so. Apart from expanding the realms of possibilities for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 5G is also expected to play a major role in the development of Industry 4.0 in general, smart city applications, smart industrial software, powering connected cars, and smart homes & buildings.

With bi-directional bandwidth shaping, smaller antenna sizes and the (much) greater bandwidths, 5G will transform mobile technology enabling people to use multiple services simultaneously. The underlying technologies of 5G will be powerful enough to support private networks and other high-end heterogeneous services.

While the benefits of the new generation network are remarkable, the challenges of 5G must be overcome to experience its advantages at a wider level. One of the main concerns about 5G is the critical security and privacy concerns along with the cost factor and uncertainty over coverage and radio frequencies.

The 3G and 4G networks have been exposed to stingray attack and other data hacks, thereby, extra measures should be taken to make 5G a safe technology. To turn 5G into a viable and shielded network, incorporation of robust endpoint security standards for identification/removal of malware and establishment of strong data integrity assurances by the carriers is essential.

It is forecasted that the annual investments required for upgrading to 5G might push towards the USD 200 billion mark. In addition, carriers will also have to incur heavy expenses for upgrading their existing infrastructure to accommodate the new devices and antennas required by 5G systems. Factoring this fact, the initial subscription plans will likely be more expensive than the ones that are currently available, creating roadblocks at the initial phase.

Manufacturers of 5G devices play an important role in 5G adoption. Corporates like Nokia, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Broadcom, and Verizon have all discussed the implications of 5G, as well as plans for technology and/or service deployment. With so many companies working towards making the technology a reality, 5G-enabled devices should be expected in 2019 by the consumers, Though widespread 5G coverage could take over a decade — and as for the broader industrial applications of 5G, estimates suggest that adoption will take off in the early 2020s.

In the June of 2018, Elisa (Operator) launched commercial service over its 5G network in Tempere. The insights gained from the testing was positive and met the realistic industry standards, even at this early stage of events.

In conclusion, 5G technology would contribute very large and sustainable economic benefits across all sectors of the global economy. Like prior generations of mobile technologies, 5G will have a profound effect on how people live, work, and interact along with the workings of diverse industries. The emergence of 5G is the tipping point in the evolution of mobile from a mostly personal-technology dominated era to a platform that enables new classes of advanced applications, furthers business innovation, and stimulates economic growth.

Vanshita Agrawal, Research Analyst at A2Z Insights

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