Buried under the news of ski jumps, half-pipe competitions and triple salchows at the Pyonghchang Winter Olympics in South Korea was the debut of 5G, a new high-speed fifth-generation wireless network.
Organizers of this year’s Olympic Games used 5G to power systems that emitted rays, gases and fake tiger roars to ward off wild boars, according to Fortune.
5G and IoT — the Internet of Things, i.e., networks of devices — will dramatically change the way we interact with technology.
What is 5G?
The most salient benefit of 5G is speed. It is estimated that 5G will be up to 1,000 times faster than 4G, and users will be able to download an entire HD film in about one second, according to 5G.co.uk. That speed will be a boon to mobile-based media, augmented reality, virtual reality and IoT devices.
To get a sense of how 5G might change mobile-based media, consider how the introduction of 4G has helped to hasten the spread and introduction of streaming services like Netflix and Spotify.
Nelson Granados, a professor at Pepperdine University, posited in Forbes that 5G will allow customers to download media rather than stream it.
Meanwhile, live streaming will become more of an option on 5G since the platform offers lower latency and will avoid the buffering that can make watching video on a mobile device so annoying.
Another disruptive element of 5G is that it can conceivably replace a wired broadband connection, whether cable, DSL or fiber optic, which can potentially entice more consumers to cut the cord.
Will 5G Benefit AR and VR?
The lack of a need for a wired connection and 5G’s low latency also mean that consumers will be able to easily use mobile augmented reality and virtual reality.
For instance, a 5G network will allow for support for richer images for AR interfaces in a store environment. Using their phone or smart glasses, a shopper can use AR to identify the items that they are looking for in-store and point them to products that are on sale, Forbes said.
Mobile VR, meanwhile, will allow consumers to virtually attend events (picture grandparents virtually experiencing their grandchild’s first steps, for instance) and allow for immersion into mobile-based VR experiences like live sporting events, concerts, meetings and games.
What Is The Future of IoT?
5G and IoT are inexorably linked; the introduction of 5G coincides with the rise of IoT. Approximately 8.4 billion IoT devices existed in 2017, according to ZD Net.
5G will make IoT devices ranging from smart parking meters to household devices to autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles work better because they can send and receive data much faster, USAToday noted. For that reason, 5G and IoT will be a potent combination.
USAToday reports that AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon aim to rollout 5G networks by 2019.
Of course, 5G’s success isn’t assured. The service will likely be expensive, so many consumers might stick with 4G for a while. It’s possible that 5G won’t work as well as promised. Barring consumer indifference or unsolvable tech glitches, 5G is likely to make a big splash and usher in a new wave of wireless usage in the 2020s.
So, what is 5G? Soon enough you won’t even have to ask.