5G mobile broadband technology is super fast – too fast, really, for the things most of us use the internet for on a day-to-day basis (like browsing the web or checking emails). So why do we need it and why is it so important? Because in the future, we’ll be doing so much more with the internet and many of those things will be possible only because of 5G.
Already, we’re beginning to see the potential benefits of 5G. At this year’s Vodacom Durban July, for example, Africa’s first live 5G mobile data call was made, on the 5G-ready LG V50 smartphone, and South Africans got to experience the joys of operating a 5G-ready phone for the first time. What blew everyone away was the crystal clear quality of the voice call and zero latency on the Vodacom 5G-ready network – that means zero buffering, something anyone who has ever tried communicating with a loved one who is far away can appreciate. (Scroll down to see what went down at the Vodacom Durban July.)
But this is only a starting point when it comes to 5G. This exciting new technology is going to unlock serious potential in the tech sector and anything it touches (which is everything).
Here are five other areas in which 5G is already having an impact and what we can expect in the very near future.
1. Smart cities
Thanks to 5G and, consequently, IoT devices becoming commonplace, everything will be tracked. All this information will be easily accessible in the cloud and can be used to regulate traffic, monitor the environment and allocate resources. This will allow us to operate more smartly – using only what needs to be used when it needs to be used – which is imperative given our need to live more sustainably.
The significance of 5G in farming is tremendous: already farmers across the world are using sensors to track the health of their animals and to monitor water temperatures and salt concentrations. Because 5G is so fast, this data can be transmitted to everyone concerned within minutes. In the future, it means tasks such as irrigation and cultivation can be automated.
The ability to gather data also benefits the medical industry. It means hospitals and clinics can monitor their resources – do they need more of a specific medicine? Are more staff needed and where? Closer to home, it also means we keep tabs on our health and take immediate action, whether that mean visiting a doctor or simply changing our lifestyles. Similarly, you can also track the health of others, so older people could live independently for longer, for example, knowing that help is only a button away.
If you’re a fan of Black Mirror, you’ve no doubt seen the recent Miley Cyrus episode. (Spoiler alert, if you haven’t!) Well, holographic concerts are only the tip of the iceberg. At this year’s Vodacom Durban July, Vodacom showcased the wonders and possibilities of hologram technology and it may be closer than you think. Once 5G technology rolls out, you’ll be able to have coffee with your grandmother even if she lives in Cape Town and you’re in Durban.
5. Internet of Skills (IoS)
This last point is something that will likely happen in the more distant future. But the reasoning is that if a fast-enough mobile technology (such as 5G) should exist, we would be able to work remotely through virtual reality headsets. This can only be done if the connectivity is seamless as any interruption in service or buffering could have dire consequences if, for example, a doctor isn’t able to respond quickly enough during surgery.
While 5G promises amazing future developments, it’s not a simple switch from 4G to 5G and it appears that, for now, the two will complement each other rather than one simply replacing the other. To find out more about the differences between 4G and 5G, click here.