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5G is set to be the tech’s biggest change yet – how it will help you

Technology & Data

5G is set to be the tech’s biggest change yet – how it will help you


Experts at this year’s Mobile World Congress were already dreaming up big plans for 5G. One even compared it to electricity and steam in the industrial revolutions. Sven Lubek breaks down what an imminent 5G revolution means for marketers.

Sven Lubek 150 BWAs innovation and disruption cycles continue to accelerate, it is more important than ever to understand the key trends, business models and technologies that are shaping our world. This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona program brought together tech giants from across the industry spectrum to discuss and debate the biggest trends and challenges that face the industry today. This year in particular, 5G was one of the most talked about subjects.

Here’s what industry thought leaders had to say.


Unlocking the benefits of 5G for the enterprise market

Globally we see many trials where large industrial companies are already experimenting with aspects of 5G and pre-5G services, such as network slicing and ultra-low latency. However there are ongoing arguments about how much business value can be created for the enterprise by 5G compared to existing technologies. During a session on day one, the audience heard from business leaders on the economic value of 5G for all stakeholders involved.

Alex Holt, global chair for media and telecommunications at KPMG, discussed the top outputs that 5G can deliver to solve complex problems, such as becoming more informed to make better decisions, offering intelligent automation and providing trusted connections – more than “whether you can make a phone call”.

What makes organisations succeed in digital? Holt describes them as ‘out-pacers’, along with a five-stage guide to 5G for the enterprise:

  1. Think differently – 5G enables businesses to solve problems.
  2. Understand enterprise DNA and how to unlock that value for customers.
  3. Build propositions that are realistic and deliverable.
  4. Most tricky: be more insight-led, like a consulting company, and more agile in how you manage products as an enterprise division.
  5. Need for collaboration – co-creation and collaboration are critical for unlocking value in 5G.

Åsa Tamsons, SVP head of new technologies and new businesses at Ericsson, shared her vision that 5G is a platform for innovation that will power AI and IoT, both for consumers and enterprise. She believes that 5G will have the same effect as electricity and steam did in the industrial revolutions.

She shared some specific examples as well. In factories, you can bring flexible connectivity without wiring. You don’t have to compromise with safety or latency. According to Tamsons, 90% of factories are wired and almost none of them have cellular connectivity. Once this changes, we’ll have more operational efficiency, sustainability and improved safety. 

Vivek Badrinath, regional CEO Africa, Middle East, Asia Pacific (AMAP) at Vodafone, stated that 5G is not as much about applications as it is so much more than radio technology, it’s the combination of IoT, mobile edge computing and AI for businesses. For instance, within private networks, Vodafone is working with a gas plant in Centrica Storage. Badrinath says, “You’re solving a 1970s problem with a 21st century solution. The gas plants are hardwired and not computerised, but through the introduction of narrow band IoT and sensors, we’re bringing these buildings back to life and extending the life of these assets.”

For mobile edge computing in the cloud, Vodafone is working on a multi-cloud partnership with IBM. They’ll move from a centralised solution to hyperlocal, which provides lower latency since it’s bringing a solution that’s closer to the customer. This is ideal for industries such as AR and VR gaming and even farming.

5G is also expected to help democratise healthcare. This week marks the first surgical intervention in 5G. This groundbreaking live surgery for a colon operation with a surgeon using connected 5G reduced latency to a minimum – a critical factor for the application of technological solutions in the health sector. It also took advantage of the greater bandwidth of the 5G that allows the sharing of high definition and large images in almost real time. It was technologically possible due to the 5G pilot network that Vodafone set up in Barcelona, along with the AIS Channel Telestration solution, an online platform of medical education and pioneers in teletraining of surgeons.


Creating amazing consumer experiences with 5G

The modern consumer wants to engage with the brands they are loyal to on multiple platforms, and vice versa. Traditional marketing strategies, like newspaper ads and billboards, are being thrown out for immersive experiences that create memorable and emotional connections with a brand. Powerful experiences, ranging from sales pitches to art installations, can win hearts and bring strategic value.

“The speed and low latency of 5G will trigger a wave of innovative apps and services, and one area we expect to be transformed is gaming,” says Cristiano Amon, resident of Qualcomm. He states, “game developers are already looking at how 5G could transform their business models. We believe there will not be a need for new games consoles, with 5G handsets becoming mainstream devices in this sector supported by high bandwidth, low latency and edge computing.”

To create an engaging real-life experience, you need low latency. For Niantic, creators of the AR game Pokemon GO and Ingress, 5G is the first step in enabling a new type of experience for players and enabling social experiences that makes people’s lives more fun.

Verizon is working with RYOT, an immersive media company named one of the top 10 most innovative companies in video (per FastCompany), to bring these experiences to audiences and they attribute 5G as being key in this initiative. In fact, it has built a 5G studio that is exploding new tech versus old methods to engage consumers.


What’s new? What to expect?

Terry Halvorsen, CIO/EVP of IT and mobile B2B communication with Samsung Electronics, discussed how the company is planning to connect everything through massive amounts of available data. Going forward, we’ll all start talking about terabytes of data and how to protect it for consumers.

Here’s what we can do with 5G that we couldn’t do before:

  • Put AI-linked sensors on the network – moving some data away from slow-processing humans
  • create significantly larger meshed networks
  • splice and dice – run multiple layers of security on the same system, e.g. a nuclear power plant, and
  • enable us to wrap our entire system in a 5G security network (transmit via wireless) and add a security layer around it for a higher level of censorship and security.

It’s clear that 5G shook up MWC this year, and many industry heavyweights were quick to express their excitement in the future of this technology for many different markets and customers. There’s much more to come in the field, and we’ll be sure to watch how 5G takes hold in the coming years.

Sven Lubek, managing director of WeQ


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Image credit:SpaceX


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