It may not happen overnight, but 5G is ready for take-off

Everyday technologies can seem like magic until you look back and see that they are just the product of many years of research and problem-solving. 5G – the next generation of wireless technology is one of such.

Imagine a world where your calls never drop, your videos never buffer. Imagine if a 5G enabled camera was strapped on a wildebeest, surrounded by thousands of other wildebeests during the annual migration across the crocodile-infested Mara River, and you could experience that in high quality from home on your smartphone.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN body which helps develop technical standards, 5G will offer download speeds of at least 20 gigabits per second and response times or “latency” of less than 1 millisecond.

This means that you can download a high-resolution movie in almost the same time it takes to blink your eye. Essentially, 5G will transform the internet.

But 5G isn’t just about download speeds, it’s a game-changer for everything. Its lighting fast technology will become a connective tissue to the Internet of Things (IoT) controlling medical devices, industrial equipment, and even agricultural equipment used in smart farming.  

5G will also provide a much more personalized web-experience through a technique known as ‘Network Slicing’ which is a basically a way of creating separate networks layers on the cloud, thereby allowing users to create their own bespoke networks.

For instance, a doctor operating telemedicine equipment requires faster response time and greater data capacity compared to a user who just wants to check their Instagram.

Network slicing will also benefit big businesses. Separate bespoke networks will serve anything from smartphones and wireless sensors to industrial robots and even advanced medical equipment. Each set of devices will get exactly the connectivity they need.

A Hospital employee using Huawei’s 5G powered AI tools to analyse CT scan images

During the recently concluded Huawei 5G+ – Better World Summit (BWS), Dimitris Mavrakis, research director of ABI Research, says that 5G will transform businesses in the same way 4G transformed consumers.

World over, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei makes the most advanced 5G gear and is at the forefront of equipment production for the new technology.

It’s the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment with revenues exceeding $103 billion dollars last year. Huge spending on research makes it light years ahead of any other 5G manufacturer.

Bob Cai – Huawei’s Chief Marketing officer says that with over 80 5G networks commercially available worldwide, determining how to leverage 5G to create more value is currently a topic of great interest within the industry.

But despite all this backing for 5G, hurdles exist. First, Building 5G will not be cheap. Because of its higher frequencies compared to 3G and 4G, 5G will require more antennae, base stations and fibre-optic cables to connect them. A capital-intensive endeavour.  

Secondly, the lack of a collaborative approach as demonstrated by the US government’s imposed restrictions on Huawei – for what it calls ‘security reasons’. This will deal a blow to the supply chain for crucial equipment and could slow down the Pace of 5G advancement.  

John Walubengo, a member of the National Taskforce on Blockchain & Artificial Intelligence says that this is the wrong time to be creating barriers to technological development, especially where technological interdependence has previously played a critical role in technological advancements.

He says that within the next five years, 5G global territory and application dominance will be determined.

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