We are about to embark on an era where there will no longer need to think about speed again.  Once 5G is fully deployed over the next several years and we build more devices that support 5G, we will never look back.

Remember when, not long ago, 4G made apps run faster on our smartphones than they did on 3G? The increased speed was welcome and useful as well as addicting for many but it was not fast enough to be transformational. We have moved step by step broadband to 2G, 3G, and 4G, As faster speeds became available we started developing and using apps and services that no longer worked at slower speeds.

Many people think the same thing will happen with 5G. This is a mistake. 5G cellular technology is faster than 4G, but it will be transformational. It will represent much more than just an incremental change. 5G will completely transform the role of wireless in our lives and bring with it essential new services. During the entire digital era, compromises have had to be made when using wireless technology. With 5G the era of compromise will be gone.

Only recently have we begun to think of wired broadband in the same way we think about electricity, When you enter your home and turn on a light switch you don’t have to wonder or ask if the electricity will be fast enough to power all the lights and devices in your home (except for outages or brownouts.) We don’t need to know anything about the strength of electricity or which “brand” it is.  Electricity is just there doing what we need it to do. In the past few years wired broadband has become similar.  It is fast enough to do almost anything we need.

When 5G is fully deployed over the next two years and we have the devices that support 5G, we will never look back. That means our smartphones will work at very high speeds and that annoying spinning wheel we so often see while digital content loads or buffers will disappear. What really sets 5G apart though, are the new services that will be enabled. These include:

  1. Telemedicine — With 5G, lags in mobile communication will disappear for almost all applications. This will make distance surgery and other forms of medicine available in real-time. Doctors will be able to remotely supervise many medical procures at the same time. Patients who require difficult surgeries won’t have to travel to a major city. The smallest towns and outlying areas will have access to superb remote medical care.
  2. Driverless cars — The technology to make cars driverless is already with us. These cars are being successfully tested on roads around the world. The missing link is the infrastructure on the roads that will allow millions of cars to communicate with each other so they can move safely through our cities. 5G will provide the essential wireless infrastructure that will enable autonomous driving.
  3. 5G could be a cable killer — The last ten years have been a struggle for cable and satellite companies. Services (like Netflix and Hulu) that bypass cable and come directly to the consumer through the internet are causing people to cut their cable. Cable companies have lost millions of television customers and will lose many more. Internet service through cable is at risk. Wireless companies will be able to provide Internet through their systems allowing consumers to eliminate cable companies for all services.
  4. Internet of things (IoT) — Bandwidth in homes are already experiencing real “traffic jams.” In addition to each member of the family using smartphones, tablets, computers, television with Netflix and other connections, appliances and other mundane devices in the home need bandwidth. These include security systems (doorbells), lamps, refrigerators, toasters, toothbrushes and much more. The good news is that 5G will be able to satisfy most, if not all, of the additional demand for bandwidth due to the IoT.

5G is certainly one of the most exciting technologies being rolled out and it will have an enormous impact on just about everything including cloud computing.  It is an exciting time and we have much to look forward to.

Jun 26 20
Christina Zumwalt