The fifth generation of broadband cellular network technology is highly anticipated. For good reason, it promises to revolutionise technologies with its ultra speed connections, its reduced wait times, and a host of new applications. All sectors will be able to rejoice from the impact of 5G, and its great potential, coupled with AI or augmented reality, promises a drastic transformation of what customers experience.
A big step for medicine
As specialists like to point out, 5G will not be “an improved version of 4G”. On the contrary, 5G will be more reactive than human beings. Meaning that it will only take a millisecond between the moment when you press a button and the moment when the system reacts. It is this latency which will be a revolution as well as a sizeable asset to numerous domains. This will notably be the case for Medicine, who is counting on 5G to transform its benefits and offer a premium service to its customers. For example, surgical operations taking place in a virtual hospital environment could allow doctors to perform remote consultations. What if emergency services operators were equipped with virtual reality goggles, allowing them to walk bystanders through CPR while ambulances are on route. Does this seem surreal? Yet, this is what 5G would be capable of providing with this improved latency. The revolution is already afoot.
In Sweden, the researcher Andreas Claesson from the medical university of Karolinska Institutet is already diving over 5G drone prototypes able to urgently deliver defibrillators. These same drones could just as easily deliver a dose of insulin to a diabetic patient in distress. Obviously, 4G already supports some of these endeavours, but 5G would considerably augment the patient’s chances of survival by reducing implementation times. In Belgium, emergency services medic and Anvers University researcher Filip Haegdorsens also believes in 5G. We could thus send patient data directly from ambulances to emergency services, facilitating care upon arrival at hospitals. This telemedicine could also save lives from thousands kilometres away.
A skilled doctor could operate from half the world away, simply connected to a robot by virtual reality goggles. In the Netherlands, emergency services are already experiencing this technology, having equipped First Aid teams with virtual reality goggles, connecting them with doctors. Bram Oosting, innovation advisor for Groningue’s emergency services reports that “during training, these goggles have already proven a precious help for rescuers.” The other deciding factor for the emergency services would be the reduction of arrivals which would decrease numbers of hospital admissions.
To illustrate this issue, Oosting offers the example of burn patients and the treatment they receive. “We always provide patients with the best care possible, but some patients receive too much care”, explains Oosting. “Take, for example, a burn victim who is transferred to a major burns treatment center based on initial observations. Finally, doctors determine that the patient could just as easily have been cared for in a general hospital. The care received in a major burns treatment center is costly and should have been offered instead to someone who really needed it.”
A Global Impact
Saving lives would not be the only good effect of this 5G revolution. Every sector would find a benefit. With 5G virtual reality would take on another dimension, we would be able to: travel without having to move, watch a match as if we were on the pitch, visit an apartment from the comfort of our couches, or even revisit old holidays. For the moment, it is the entertainment sector that will benefit from 5G. In 2020, the Olympic Games in Japan will be equipped with this technology and spectators will be able to point their smartphones at athletes, from the stadium seats, to obtain specific information about them. This is exactly what network operators want to put forward: that of immersion into entertainment via virtual reality means.
Would you say that this all sounds like a Black Mirror episode? You’re absolutely right! A trial conducted in Texas at the start of 2018 already revealed a glimpse of the way in which 5G could transform our spending habits. Some companies are already proposing shopping terminals where you can visualise real-time stocks, see item size in real life and order. Lets go even further to imagine 5G connected changing rooms that would choose items that fit you best according to your shape and would virtually dress you in them before sending you rendered images of the result to your upgraded smartphone.
In the video gaming environment, people are simply speaking of a coming golden age. With an increase in speed and latency, gamers could truly stream in real-time. 5G holds many promises, but the its speed will transform the video gaming world and will firmly place connectivity lag in the past. This is because in e-sports, a tenth of a second can make all the difference. In 2017, the South Korean team MVP.Hot6ix flew towards Singapore after realising that internet speeds were faster in Singapore than in South Korea, which has been a disadvantage during a competition. In 2019, South Korea will be the first country in the world to adopt 5G networks.
The future has a cost
If 5G would revolutionise many sectors and change the lives and work of thousands of users, the deployment of its infrastructure would have consequential costs. This information does not seem to please American users, a fact which is proven by a study from PwC, a consultant company. Their investigation, conducted with 1,000 broadband and mobile internet users, shows us that only a third of them were ready to pay more to have access to 5G. On average, customers would be ready to pay around $5,06 more per month for 5G broadband and around $4,40 more for mobile 5G. This technology seems more attractive to those under 40 years old, 38% of which are prepared to pay more (against 25% for those over 40). In France, the price of 5G raises doubts.
So far, no network company has revealed a price list. For the moment, a few cities have conducted 5G tests, namely Bordeaux, Lille, Marseille, and Paris. We will have to wait until 2020 for the set up of a progressive installation scheme in all of France, and we will have to wait until 2023 to have access to 5G. This gives plenty of time for users to review their plans and perhaps to accept digging into their wallets. While we wait, manufacturers and network operators are engaged in fierce competition to be the first one to sell 5G phones at the beginning of 2019. Among all these infrastructures, we are also waiting for HD smartphones, security cameras, smartwatches, and all the other material necessary for augmented and virtual reality.
The American giant Verizon has recently proposed high speed 5G services to individuals in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, effectively pulling the rug out from the competition’s feet. In Asia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates have introduced 5G in certain parts of their countries. EE, the biggest British operator in the whole U.K., just announced that they will deploy 5G in 16 cities during 2019. The U.K. is the first country in Europe to confirm a premature deployment on all of its territories. With the coming 5G revolution, France is not willing to miss the boat.