What 5G Means For The Future Of Tech

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

The cellphone in your pocket will soon talk to your refrigerator, your car, the light post outside your office and virtually every other object or device that has a computer chip.

This phenomenon is known in tech circles as the “internet of things,” and will be made possible by the emerging 5G network.

What is 5G?

Mobile technology has progressed over the past two decades from a people-to-people engagement platform (3G) to a people-to-information connectivity platform on a global scale (4G). Not only do individuals connect to each other via cellphones, but they also have a worldwide database of information at their fingertips. 5G mobile networks will be the next phase in mobile telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G LTE system, according to a January 2017 study from IHS Markit Economic and Technology.

In the new 5G network, cellular coverage will be extended to a broader range of structures, including office buildings, industrial areas and large venues with high concentrations of people (think a professional sporting event or concert).

The 5G network will also provide cellular and other electronic devices with insanely fast, stable and versatile connectivity, enabling download speeds over 10 times that of the current 4G LTE network. Under 5G connectivity, users will be able to download movies, TV shows and entire albums in seconds.

The result of a broader network with faster connections is that users will have an improved, consistent experience when using their cellular and mobile broadband devices. It will also likely spur innovations in the “internet of things,” or machine-to-machine communication.

‘The Internet Of Things’

The internet of things revolves around machine-to-machine communications. The phenomenon is made possible through cloud computing and data gathering sensors. In a simple definition, the internet of things refers to a network of internet-connected objects that are able to collect data and exchange it using embedded sensors.

The 5G network will build on previous investments in machine-to-machine learning. Through improving network connectivity, speed and lowering costs, 5G is expected to launch the tech and mobile industry into the era of the internet of things.

Improvements are expected in smart agriculture, cities, homes and physical infrastructure.

Factories could soon operate as autonomous entities, with every machine, room and piece of equipment exchanging information in real time. Homes will operate in much the same way, with lights, the thermostat, the radio and the windows adjusting to user preferences. Equipment in the gym will know an individual’s workout and adjust to their level of experience or fatigue. The medical field will gain real-time, in-depth knowledge of patients and treatment outcomes.

The other interesting feature of 5G is that it offers lower latency periods between electronic devices, meaning that two electronic devices can communicate at much faster rates — an improvement that could prove invaluable to those developing self-driving car technology.

The Economic Impact of 5G

The 5G network is expected to bring about $12.3 trillion in global economic output and bring 22 million new jobs within the next 20 years, IHS reports. From 2020 to 2035 alone, 5G’s total contribution to global economic output is expected to be equivalent to an economy the size of India’s.

The increase in economic output brought on by 5G will vary across sectors. The information and communications sector will see a steady increase in economic output of 11.5 percent by 2035. Other fields, like health care, are likely to see a 2.3 percent boon to their output over the next two decades.

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