The fifth-generation (5G) cellular network technology is promising to deliver a plethora of revolutionary applications. However, the hype is reaching a dangerous extreme.
America can’t afford to lose its lead in 5G. It must adopt more flexible and timely spectrum policies, support scalable alternatives for 5G equipment, and invest in long-term research and development.
With the new coronavirus pandemic continuing to spread, there’s a chance that 5G will have trouble getting off the ground this year. The technology could be delayed as governments consider lockdowns and local bureaucracies stifle deployment.
Despite these hurdles, China is pushing full steam ahead on 5G. The country is one of the leaders in the race and wants to keep its pole position in this next-generation cellular technology.
The government is involved in a lot of the work, giving wireless carriers extensive support and ensuring that they acquire the spectrums needed to deliver on the 5G promises of ultrafast gigabit speeds and low latency. This includes repurposing unused military or weather radar frequencies to support 5G networks.
The US government has tried to put a brake on the China’s 5G ambitions by banning Huawei equipment, but that move could backfire by hobbling the global supply chain and slowing the deployment of US 5G networks.
The global economy is experiencing a transformation thanks to 5G, which is expected to boost GDP by more than US$508 billion by 2030. This surge in economic productivity is driven by voice and connected worker use cases on both public macro-networks, dedicated network slices, and private cellular networks.
Manufacturing, for example, will benefit from the ultra-low latency of 5G as it connects machines and robots to enable real-time data analytics and automation. This will help maximize factory capacity, reduce maintenance costs, and improve supply chains and logistics management.
Furthermore, it will enable e-Governments to provide services closer to citizens and strengthen democratic mechanisms. This will also stimulate economic growth and promote greater citizen participation. However, some fear that the rapid deployment of 5G could increase the digital divide between rich and poor countries, as well as within a country’s urban and rural areas. As such, policies should be promoted to ensure equal access to this technology.
5G mobile networks can transfer data at more than a gigabit per second and have half the latency of 4G, meaning you can stream movies without interruption and play games with less lag. They also use a different type of spectrum than previous generations, which can connect devices more quickly and preserve battery power for low-data activities.
South Korea jumped into the race for 5G early, and its operators have quickly taken advantage of their head start. According to RootMetrics, LG Uplus and KT both offer nearly ubiquitous 5G coverage across Seoul.
But the race for 5G is far from over. Recent auctions of additional spectrum–much of it speedy mid-band spectrum–could level the playing field over time. Regardless, you should begin thinking about your business’s relationship with telecoms providers as they shift from consumer-centric to working with businesses to deliver useful applications over 5G. This will help ensure you can benefit from the full potential of this transformative technology.
5G networks will revolutionize many sectors of the economy, from healthcare to transportation and manufacturing. The ultra-reliable, low-latency communications of 5G will enable new medical applications like telemedicine and remote recovery, physical therapy via augmented reality, and even remotely performed surgery .
In addition to faster data transfer speeds and higher connectivity, 5G will also allow businesses to automate processes, boost operational efficiency and productivity, and create jobs in the process. For example, 5G-enabled smart traffic systems will reduce congestion and fuel efficiency in urban areas, while IoT devices embedded in vehicles will communicate with each other to optimize driving conditions and vehicle maintenance.
Furthermore, 5G will enable e-Governments to bring public services closer to citizens and enhance democratic mechanisms, as well as stimulate economic growth and foster inclusion. The rapid adoption of 5G will help bridge the digital divide and support equitable global development.  Moreover, the technology will boost decent work through its ability to improve working conditions and increase opportunities for labor market participation.