The term ‘5G’ is something that has been whispered about since the jump from 3G to 4G was first made. Now, however, 5G technology has begun small-scale testing, and the realities of what it might bring are finally being realised.
First and foremost, as with every other generation of wireless technology, the jump to 5G will bring faster internet connections. It is estimated that data transfer speed will be 10 times that of 4G, meaning that the downloading and streaming of music and videos, as well as dealing with clients around the globe, will be much, much faster than it already is. In China, 5G is being tested at Shanghai’s Hongqiao Railway Station, and those lucky enough to take part have experienced being able to download entire TV box sets or films in HD in seconds.
Additionally, 5G could end up being so fast that it could replace traditional home broadband connections, meaning WiFi could become a thing of the past. However, the possibilities that 5G could bring go far beyond being able to get a better internet connection.
One substantial area 5G could revolutionise is virtual reality. And, subsequently, remote surgery. With its greater speed, 5G brings lower latency – meaning less of a delay between sending and receiving a signal. Virtual reality will benefit from this as movements within it will become ever-more seamless. This could therefore have a massive effect on remote surgery, with work being carried out at King’s College London to test this. A surgeon was able to wear a glove that was connected to a robotic hand, and carry out surgery on a dummy from a completely separate room.
Self-driving cars, as part of the wider Internet of Things, could also massively benefit from 5G. With its seamless latency and ultra-responsive network, 5G would allow cars to ‘speak’ to each other, and possibly even allow them to communicate with city infrastructure, such as street lights and petrol stations.
Finally, there’s a clear case for 5G for businesses. A Qualcomm study predicts that $3.5trillion will be generated in new revenue by 2035, and the possibilities of network slicing – which would essentially allow a company to set up its own private 5G network – could see businesses tailoring private networks to their individual business needs.