5G will turn sci-fi into reality

5G will serve as the building block for a new digital economy. Get ready for holograms, driverless cars, and remote surgery.

The hologram of Princess Leia in Star Wars

The fully-automated driverless cars in Minority Report

The remote surgery Ernst Stavro Blofeld performs on James Bond in Spectre

All of these things were up until recently only possible in films.

But technology doesn’t stand still. Thanks to today’s advances in the field, life has started to imitate the arts.

We’re now a massive step closer to holograms, driverless vehicles and remote surgery and it’s all due to a new piece of tech: 5G.

With the endless possibilities ascribed to 5G, its developers are excited. Mobile technology company Qualcomm is even calling it the biggest thing since electricity.

With that in mind, you’d think people are lining up to experience this life-altering technology!

Not really.

Surveys show people couldn’t care less. They don’t know what 5G is, they think 4G is fast enough, or they want telecom companies to focus on reliable 4G service first.

In other words, people want 5G to prove itself before they believe the hype.

That’s a healthy, sceptical attitude to have as a consumer. However, for investors “wait and see” could mean you lose out on a very big investment opportunity.

Digital traffic jam

Last month Vodafone showed it’s possible to be in two places at once.

The company’s engineers used an experimental 5G network to project a 3D image of someone standing in a studio in Manchester onto a stage in London.

It was the UK’s first live holographic phone call. Science is catching up to science fiction movies!

With the introduction of 5G, or fifth-generation wireless, the world as we know it is about to change forever.

At least, that is the sense you get from people in the know.

So, how is this new generation of wireless networks better than the 4G network we are currently connected to?

For starters, 5G is going to be 100 times faster than what we’re used to at the moment.

I’m sure you’ve experienced the Wi-Fi being excruciatingly slow when a lot of people were using it at the same time. Especially when people started streaming videos, which takes a lot of data.

That’s what’s happening here. More and more people have been getting smartphones and they’re using exponentially more data. It’s too much traffic to handle for existing networks.

5G will bring very reliable networks with low latency and fast internet connections.

It took about a day to download high-definition films on a 3G network. With 4G that waiting time got reduced to minutes. Now 5G is going to make sure it won’t take more than seconds.

On top of that, the most realistic video games can finally be played the way they were meant to be played: in high resolution, without hitching.

Industry insiders couldn’t be more thrilled.

Liam Griffin, CEO of Skyworks Solutions, says 5G will solve the “digital traffic jam”.

Qualcomm CEO Stephen Mollenkopf is convinced it will have “an impact similar to the introduction of electricity or the automobile, affecting entire economies and benefiting entire societies.”

Even politicians are excited!

“5G will be the backbone of our digital economies and societies worldwide,” predicts Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Digital Economy.

Sounds like 5G will be the foundation on which the new digital economy will be built.

There’s gotta be more to it than superfast internet then…

The Internet of Things

Downloading HD films in mere seconds and playing video games that don’t stutter is certainly life-altering for some people…

And projecting holograms is a nice gimmick…

But surely 5G can do more than that if it is to have an impact on society comparable to the introduction of electricity?

Why, yes. What’s going to make such a big splash in society is 5G in relation to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Right now it’s completely normal to think of going online as something for desktop computers, laptops, and smartphones.

OK, Apple already came up with the smartwatch but that’s nothing compared to what’s about to happen.

A whole host of other physical devices, vehicles, and home appliances are about to be hooked up with software that enables them connect with each other and to collect and share data.

Think smart cities and towns where traffic lights communicate with driverless cars and where homes and street lights are all connected.

It’s even going to improve our health care. 5G will make remote surgery and personalised health care possible, while a new generation of connected medical devices will create new efficiencies.

“We haven’t seen something this big happen since the internet took off, or when wireless communications made smartphones possible,” says Agora US colleague Ray Blanco.

“This communications network will disrupt existing industries like cable and broadband internet. It will make other tech trends, like the internet of things and autonomous vehicles, possible. Real-world artificial intelligence will get a boost with the availability.

“It will create trillions in new wealth and millions of new jobs and will serve as the fundamental building block for new technologies we haven’t even dreamed up yet.”

Telecom companies all over the world are vying to be the first to roll out 5G. Some of them are expected to do so next year, which is years ahead of schedule.

In addition to transforming the world, 5G is going to give Hollywood screenwriters a good run for their money.

It’s up to them to come up with something we can still see as “science fiction” rather than “the world of tomorrow”.

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