Why we need to understand that 5G is more than fast internet
At 5G we agree: it cannot go fast enough. Politics and business are in default and more than ever in the obligation to act in order not to limit us as a country after the sluggish broadband expansion here in our possibilities. However, now everyone has their idea of what 5G means in the end and what impact its nationwide availability and use on the economy, society and ourselves has.
What the people think
At 5G, the first thought is about our smartphone and all the things we can do with a faster internet connection. From HD videos in the subway to fast online shopping on the go. We know that 5G means the next generation of mobile data transfer and will hopefully replace 4G / LTE bit by bit in the coming years and become part of our daily lives. Even though we have been quite satisfied with the 4G standard for about eight years, we realize that more capacity and higher transmission speeds would make everyday life even more comfortable. For example, most smartphones offer Ultra HD cameras that play movies in double HD resolution, which in turn generates and transfers a lot of data. The amount of data continues to rise inexorably and must be coordinated and transmitted at the appropriate speed. Sending or retrieving such files can be a test of patience even with fast LTE. So 5G is not that uninteresting. Because we do not want to lose the standards to which we have become accustomed, and certainly not compromise on speed in favor of more extensive data volumes.
What the experts say
However, it’s about understanding that 5G technology is more than a faster version of what we already know. There are completely new fields of application that affect our lives.
Similar to 4G, 5G is a globally consistent technical standard characterized by stability and scalability. However, the application scenarios go far beyond the optimized use of smartphones. The fifth generation of mobile data transmission is working to create a universal, nationwide network for communication between and between devices. With unimaginable performance data, it’s all about networking every conceivable device. Machine-to-machine communication (M2M) is the, and the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes the trump card for every business. Areas of use include augmented reality, connected cars, logistics, local and long-distance traffic, 3D solutions, events or smart living. Suppliers such as Vodafone are testing new application scenarios in their 5G Lab or promoting 5G prototyping, such as Telekom, in their displacement incubator. Latency is a key criterion that technology providers are working hard on. Because in many cases, every millisecond is crucial – think of autonomous driving and serious accidents, because data was available only a fraction of a second too late. Everyone needs to know that more network capacity is needed. Network equipment manufacturers and operators are therefore working hard to expand their infrastructure, and soon the first 5G mobile networks will be up and running – at least that’s what they want.
What effects 5G has
Since the standard is not yet widely available, the actual effects are derived from well-intentioned forecasts and are in the area of visions. With regard to the technical framework, experts are talking about latency times of less than a millisecond, drastically reduced energy consumption per bit transmitted and a capacity that is 1000 times higher. The way there is stony and tedious. For example, the costs of licenses and network expansion are enormous and must first be dealt with by mobile service providers. One must not forget in the context that 5G is not isolated, but each mobile phone mast must be connected by fiber optic cable or microwave network with the core network of the appropriate provider. The not inconsiderable financial outlay for the 5G network expansion will also be allocated in shares to the end user, for example through adjusted tariffs. That said, the infrastructure offers the providers but also new and equally enormous sales potential. At least, if you count on similar developments as eight years ago at 4G. One thinks besides the portable radio contracts also at new hardware, which is needed. With all the horror of the immense costs, this sales potential should also be taken into account.
For the economy, the benefits are almost limitless, because completely new business models and concepts of use arise – in part, we can not even guess what else will be possible. Industrial machines, which communicate with each other, exchange data and forward and autonomously control, create unimagined applications. Companies will experiment, some things will turn out to be superfluous or nonsensical, some will be an essential part of the future and shape our lives. Precisely because of these unforeseeable scenarios and consequences, it is essential for the economy to be open to disruptive thinking, to maintain a certain play instinct and fault tolerance in order to take advantage of the opportunities. However, this does not necessarily simplify economic policy dependencies (e.g., agreeing on a cross-vendor standard for data exchange) and ethical considerations. Initial applications are therefore to be expected initially in demarcated infrastructure.
For the end customer on an individual level, the benefits appear manageable, since there are still few concepts or scenarios that provide meaningful use. How should a single user benefit from an incredible 1000 MBit? On a larger scale, of course, we will have entirely new opportunities in everyday life. Where even current 4G mobile networks reach their limits, the fifth generation opens up new possibilities. A prime example of this is networked driving, which not only has the potential to increase road safety, but also helps to avoid traffic jams or other annoyances. A positive side effect that results in a higher efficiency with lower emissions. Through the continuous connection to the network, the vehicles not only autonomously move autonomously across the streets, they also communicate with each other in order to coordinate as best as possible. Through the integration of traffic data and sensors in the vehicle also assisted overtaking or the formation of emergency lanes with ease is feasible. The high availability and low latencies are essential for these applications and scenarios. They are developed, for example, with the help of public funding at the recently inaugurated Testing Center in Aldenhoven.
Judging from all aspects and framework conditions, the development of technology is still in its infancy. The targeted implementation plans of industry and politics until 2020 seems rather optimistic, because there is still a lot to do: Industry standards must be set, ethical policy discussions conducted and traditional business models rethought. Nevertheless, companies can make good use of the remaining time to develop concepts and strategies that can then be implemented immediately after the roll-out with little loss of time.
In any case, we can look forward to the changes that come with the introduction of the 5G standard. Step by step we will see how our lives will change with this technology. What is certain, however, is that we do well to make the best possible use of this change – be it on an economic, social or personal level. However, we have to understand that 5G not only affects our smartphone, but brings major changes.