Imagine a world where cars talk to each other. Appliances inside your home communicate and also talk to your car. Where massive drones fly in to manage emergencies at remote locations, and holographic calls, which we have so far seen only in sci-fi movies, are a reality.
Welcome to the world of 5G which is already being deployed in some countries like the US and Korea as we speak. The Indian government wants to make 5G a reality in India by 2020 and Samsung will undertake India’s first 5G trials in Delhi in the early part of next year.
5G isn’t just an advanced version of 3G and 4G. It’s a whole new ballgame and will be most disruptive of all.
With 5G, consumers can get up to 20 times faster data speeds, allowing over 100 times more devices to be connected than 4G and 1/10th of the latency (time taken for a packet of data to reach from one point to another) in data transfers, making connected cars on roads a reality.
Fifth generation radio technology is more spectrally efficient than 4G, allowing higher amount of information to be transferred in the same amount of wireless spectrum. Low latencies of a few milliseconds would mean millions of devices can communicate with each other giving rise to automated factory shop floors or industrial IoT.
How we consume media has already changed with 4G, with video content becoming key, and 5G would take it a step further with virtual reality streaming, instant viewing of 4K content, interactive mobile gaming and maybe even holographic calls.
When 4G came in, it was deployed over 3G networks. In the same way, 5G too will work alongside 4G until such time 5G by itself can become a standalone network. Over the years, different generations of wireless technology came with their own capabilities.
5G has the potential to disrupt many industries. It could redefine the insurance industry with sensors tracking real time car usage by consumers. Telemedicine can get a big boost allowing doctors to undertake remote surgery backed by 5G’s high data reliability and low latency.
The automobile space could see changes that transform the industry with vehicles fitted with telematics for remote diagnostics and fault monitoring. 5G will enable vehicle to vehicle communication as well as vehicle to infrastructure and vehicle to people communication.
Connected cars will allow you to enjoy live streaming of high quality content in your car even on the road because of ultra-high speed data transmission between road infrastructure and vehicles. This would also allow upload of blackbox footage and smart navigation.
With 5G, the dawn of the 4th Industrial Revolution is not far away. That’s because 5G won’t just be about you and me, the consumers. It will have the potential to change the way manufacturing is done, with smart factories and widespread robotics.
So far, machines were only talking to us. Now they will talk to each other and advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning will make them think on their own too. Machines talking to each other would require massive data speeds and minimum lag that will be possible with 5G.
The world has been talking about smart cities for a long time and we could soon be living in one, thanks to 5G. A smart city with smart grids that manage electricity loads efficiently, smart homes that allow you to remotely connect with appliances at home and also, overtime, understand your usage pattern and self-driving and connected cars working seamlessly with smart traffic management to ensure they communicate and send out alerts about potential crashes or traffic jams.
5G can also revitalise the city’s waste disposal mechanism, safety systems as well as other municipal functions. Such smart cities can detect emergencies, mishaps and share location information and other details to relevant administrative authorities. With connected sensors, humidity, temperature and pollution levels can also be monitored, making roads and streets much safer and convenient.
So, are you ready?
(The author is managing director, Samsung R&D Institute, Bangalore)