Bhavya Shah @ IMAP India ponders on it as we experience the role of technology in our life during the pandemic lockdown
Over the past two months, the interplay of telecom and technology has had the most influence in our daily lives and probably the consumer adoption of the same has taken a five year leap. There are still some glitches and it appears that introduction of 5G at this juncture will probably complete the much expected role of technology in everything that we do or aspire.
Telecom sector has always been on the fore front of technological Innovation and the next big innovation that the sector has been trying to bring on a fully operational scale is 5G: the 5th generation of Mobile Technology. 5G along with it, will finally truly bring IoT, the system of inter-related devices through internet. It is estimated that by 2030, 5G will add nearly $150 billion to telecom revenues from 4 countries itself – USA, China, Japan & South Korea. These $150 billion will be raked in from Industries and use cases as diverse as EdTech, HealthTech, Industrial Automation, Drones and Gaming amongst others.
The major difference that 5G will bring is that its cells will power a hundredfold increase in device capacity from current networks and tenfold increase of network density, greatly increasing the potential of IoT integration and the consumer experience based on the same. It will bring in faster speeds, lower latency and increased device capacity. It is going to be huge, as finally IoT, AI & ML and Big Data will be put to use efficiently and to their complete potential. But to understand and realize the importance of what is coming, lets expand the use cases a little more briefly.
With regards to EdTech, according to a study from education technology non-profit Jisc and telecommunications giant Vodafone, “IoT applications can help us change the role of teachers in the classroom, reducing the burden of administrative load on them and allowing them to concentrate more on individuals.” The report also reads: “Being automatically logged into the classroom as soon as entering to the class, being distracted by a signal as soon as a student losing concentration during lecture, real-time feedback to a lecturer about areas that students still have problem based on the real-time analysis of their notes, all are just few examples of how IoT and connected classroom can enhance learning and teaching experience.” Currently, even the fastest network can have a brief lag time, or latency, from when data is sent to when it is received. For something like virtual reality, this latency can create a barrier for teachers looking to include headsets into their curriculum but with 5G, the lag should be reduced to under 10 milliseconds. For a perspective, the blink of an eye takes about 300 milliseconds. Such low lag time will greatly improve AR/VR user experiences, making it a more useful tool for teachers in the classroom. Also, in the era where YouTube has become a preferred option for education, transfer speeds on 5G have the potential to be 10 times faster than 4G/LTE, which means downloading a 3D video or high-definition movie will go from taking 10 minutes to less than a second.
When it comes to HealthTech, 5G will open up various possibilities including transmitting large medical images, facilitating telehealth initiatives and supporting remote patient monitoring tools, as well as enabling more complex uses of artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality. 5G also will facilitate faster downloads and communication on mobile devices and tablets used in healthcare settings, and it is likely to be a fitting complement to Wi-Fi 6. It is poised to benefit an expanding network of Internet of Medical Things devices and other wearables used to conduct remote patient monitoring. It can also play a role in supporting augmented and virtual reality tools for training in complex medical scenarios.
Safety and Administration
5G will be the major contributing factor to “The rise of Drones”, strengthening the current set of drones in multiple ways like enabling drones to transmit high-definition footage in real-time. This enables drones to be used for functions like infrastructure safety inspections, where the drone operator must be able to see patches of rust or smalls cracks, for instance. Drones with a 5G connection can use AI to more efficiently complete complicated tasks. A drone with computer vision can rapidly scan items in a warehouse and recognize patterns, which can improve efficiency and free up human workers to do more complicated tasks. Also, 5G’s low latency will enable precise tracking of drone fleets, enabling them to comply with regulatory requirements.
Coming to the most important use case of 5G, Industrial Automation means usage of Technology to handle and manage the various industrial processes, partially replacing humans. 5G networks offer manufacturers and telecom operators the chance to build smart factories and truly take advantage of technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality for troubleshooting, and the Internet of Things (IoT). According to various studies on the 5G Business Potential, the expected addressable market in 2030 will be ~USD66 billion. 5G technologies provide the network characteristics essential for manufacturing. Low latency and high reliability are needed to support critical applications. High bandwidth and connection density secure ubiquitous connectivity. The mobile 5G technology will allow for higher flexibility, lower cost, and shorter lead times for factory floor production reconfiguration, layout changes, and alterations.
These are just some of the use cases from an illustrative list of Industries, 5G has a plethora of use cases with one of the most awaited being existence of Smart cities. But for 5G to run smoothly, Telecom sector must invest huge sums of money for buying spectrum, upgrading core network software to 5G and installing millions of small cells and overhauling everything from infrastructure to technology to functions like marketing and sales. 5G has already been launched by more than 40 Telecom operators globally but when it comes to India, 5G services probably will not be available earlier than 2022. India was expected to bring in 5G by the end of 2020 but due to the adverse ruling of Supreme Court against Telecom operators and the spread of Covid Pandemic, the launch will be delayed substantially. Also, with respect to Spectrum auctions, the base price is set at nearly 6 times compared to some other economies adding on to the woes of telecom companies. All the Indian operators have appealed for reduction of prices with Airtel declaring that it will not be participating at current prices. With respect to infra changes, Jio is leading the pack claiming that it is 5G ready with only investments pending in spectrum and equipment. With Huawei’s and ZTE’s future a little bleak, Indian companies have also partnered other global equipment providers like Nokia, Ericsson and Cisco for 5G trials.
Lets see how humans cope up with a technology rush into our lives…hope it does makes a happier, safer, with more time and knowledge for mankind to explore the life and universe further.