Looking back at 5G (and Gigabit connectivity)?
Up to now I have resisted talking about Covid-19 and the impact it is having and will have on telecommunications industry, because virtually every article I read seems to express some opinion on this. But this whole situation has got me thinking about the future and what is important to me and the people and society I care about and what is not.
So, in this blog, I will imagine myself at the end of the decade looking at the advances 5G and Gigabit fixed broadband connectivity brought to us (and there is no vehicle to network (V2X) autonomous driving – I promise).
High-speed, reliable, trusted residential broadband
After Covid-19 people and telecoms operators realised the value and the need, for reliable high-speed broadband for all. This started with speeds and bandwidth good enough to support 3 or 4 people to work from home whilst simultaneously streaming videos calls to colleagues. The connectivity was based around mass rollout out of fibre to customer premises, but supplemented with fixed wireless access and 5G providing high-speed connectivity for the more difficult to reach rural locations.
But speed and bandwidth were just the start, connectivity moved from the best effort connectivity provided pre-Covid to offering guaranteed performance characterises around speed (upstream as well as downstream), latency, reliability and security. An easy to use interface was introduced that allowed you to see details about all the services and connections to and from your house. This same interface allowed you to configure, on a real-time basis, which applications get priority (and how much priority); for example webinars given to customers to be allocated to have maximum priority whereas team video could be allocated to have high priority but not as extreme as the webinar, etc . This interface also provided the ability to whitelist and blacklist sites and services on a per person, per computer basis.
We saw the start of the eHealth revolution.
Wearable devices (and clothing) providing vital sign monitoring, storing and transmission for a whole range of information about a person’s physical well-being ranging from heart-rate, respiration rate temperature and movement through to smart glasses monitoring vision performance and smart ECG. These devices became linked to centralized, intelligent control systems, allowing people to be identified prior to them experiencing a catastrophic medical condition.
Smart pill dispensers helped ensure that people talking multiple tablets, were actually taking the right pills, of the correct dosage on the correct days, and automatically placed repeat prescriptions as and when required. Correlation was made between the pill dispensers and the wearables to ensure the pills were having the anticipated medical impact.
High quality, reliable, broadband, with the HD quality its video it enabled meant the start of remote, video, consultations which are in widespread use today. With these and all the information collected and collated from the patients vital sign wearables, meant the time to reach correct diagnosis for medical conditions was greatly accelerated.
And when emergency situations did occur, broadband on the move, meant the paramedics were directed to by the quickest route to the right locations, patients and helpers were able to get information on the right things to do prior to the arrival of the emergency application. In transit to the hospital, the paramedic team were able to establish online connectivity with the hospital team, and where necessary doctors and surgeons starting medical interventions on the move with use of HD quality (uncompressed) video transmitted over 5G mobile.
Covid showed us what was possible with remote learning/education. This led to the start of the truly immersive education system we have today.
The use of a combination of virtual reality and augmented reality gave us mixed reality (MR), the MR environment lets digital and physical objects co-exist and interact in real-time making a virtual world where interactions are much more realistic. The MR world when used in conjunction with gamification drove a revolution in educational process.
Covid also showed us that our actions had a real impact on the environment in which we live. The massive reduction in travel had an immediate impact on air quality with carbon levels and greenhouse gases dropping dramatically. And reduction in road traffic meant a recovery in wildlife in many locations. The realization was the start of a new normal.
Businesses realised that working from home was extremely productive for a large proportion of their workforces, so this became a new reality and helped reduce air pollution, until we saw electric vehicles being more commonplace than internal combustion powered ones.
This new environmental reality then had a knock on impact peoples thinking, for example with agriculture we moved to drone spraying of crops and smaller remote controlled tractors. We also saw modernization of railways making it cost effective to put more freight onto rail. These of course reduced road traffic with the consequential environmental improvements.
Covid was the catalyst for the health-awareness decade. For two reasons, firstly more people took-up exercise during lockdown, especially road-cycling, walking and virtual exercises classes. Secondly it was believed that there was a strong causal link between surviving the virus and physical health. This led individuals getting the “exercise” habit, individuals and governments taking health issues seriously and businesses realizing their was huge money to be made in augmented reality exercises
Clearly not all of these things will happen over the next 10 years. However, with 5G, mass rollout of fibre and a flexible next generation to connect it all together we certainly have the technology to make all of these things a reality – today. Then maybe we can start thinking about autonomous cars !!