5G: The New Frontier
Breakfast and Technology a Heady Mix
For those of you that are not aware, a 5G innovation centre was recently opened in Basingstoke, UK. The opening was held in the form of an event breakfast to launch the centre to the business community that is likely to be impacted by 5G. The innovation centre puts Basingstoke at the forefront of the UKs push to get businesses and consumers ready to understand the benefits that 5G can bring to them. The innovation centre provides one of biggest test beds for 5G networks in Europe and it links directly to the University of Surrey’s 5G research and development centre.
So who is likely to be impacted by 5G?
5G promises to be one of the biggest disruptions we will ever see not only in telecoms, but in how enterprises and corporations conduct their business. Indeed, the impact of 5G is likely to be far greater than the introduction of mobile telephony. It has the potential to be completely pervasive and effect every aspect of the way we live our lives. Some examples of the major impacts we know about today are given below, but there are and will be far more
Change the way we drive
5G has the potential to fundamentally change our driving experience forever. I am sure everyone would welcome cars using 5G to communicate with each other to provide active collision avoidance. And I wait for the day when intelligent traffic management systems are able to provide, relevant, up-to-date travel information to roadside displays and directly into our cars, based on real-time communications from cars, roadside sensors, weather systems and other databases. And of course we have all heard the debates about autonomous vehicles.
Help us all live a greener life
5Gs ability to support the Internet of Things, is fundamental to the evolution of our energy supplies. For example, intelligent energy management systems are the bedrock of the smart grid and they rely on information gathered from sensors to allow them to manage how and when renewable energy sources are introduced and removed from the network. In addition, the next generation of smart meters could collect information about how are buildings are behaving and about how energy is being consumed in them. Analysis of this data brings the opportunity to optimise the way energy is used in our homes, making our buildings “smart” as well.
Help us live a healthier lifestyle
It is not science fiction to imagine everyone being equipped with health monitoring devices, telling us when we are not well, dispensing medication and even communicating to the authorities in worst case scenarios like a heart attack. We are already being moved along the path, with many people today wearing heart-rate monitors disguised as watches. And remote surgery (and anaesthesia control) is already being performed, 5G will make this more prevalent and allow more complex procedures.
So back to the event - 5G: THE NEW FRONTIER
Nearly 200 people attended the event, which is very impressive given the 8:00am start, maybe the promise of bacon rolls attracted people. However, what I found even more impressive than the raw numbers was the massive diversity of knowledge, background and experience of the attendees. The attendees I talked to included; hotel managers, owners of start-ups, game developers, security specialists, digital marketers, researchers, and people from critical industries. And of course there were a few telecoms technologists from both operators and vendors, but not many!
This tells me that 5G has now jumped from being a technologist’s playground full of high-tech architectures with buzzwords like GSMA, MIMO, MME and networking slicing through to the general public’s consciousness. And the discussion around 5G is totally different to the discussions that were held around 4G. Where there was any discussion on 4G it was limited to, how much faster it would go and whether connectivity would improve. The discussions I had with people about 5G at the event were about how it will change the way they do business, how it will change the way people live their lives and what new opportunities could be seized.
My final thoughts
5G will bring fundamental changes to the way business operates and opens many new opportunities. However, as with all fundamental changes there will be winners and losers and the winners will be those that understand the change and plan for the future. As one of the presenters said;
“5G rollout will not happen before 2020, but it is important that businesses get ahead of the curve to understand what 5G can do for their businesses – 5G is not about 5G itself, it’s about what you can do with it”.