Global transformation in the era of 5G

night time cityscape with woman using smartphone

5G, or fifth generation mobile telecommunications, will drive a chain reaction of innovation that will transform virtually every industry. The rollout of 5G networks will mean a very different business and communications ecosystem, connecting a vast network of sensors, robots, and autonomous vehicles through sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Next-generation telecom networks will introduce vastly improved data speeds in the making of a global digital nervous system. Unlike its predecessors, 5G is a technological paradigm shift. Leveraging ultra-fast, low latency, high-throughput communications, 5G networks will enable radical advances in factory robotics, machine learning networks, clean energy technologies, advanced medical equipment, smart cities, and a wide range of new industries. It has the potential to unlock up to $12.3 trillion of revenue across a broad range of industries supporting tens of millions of jobs.

5G could eventually operate at speeds 100 to 250-times faster than 4G networks, the equivalent to streaming hundreds of films in 8k at the same time. In fact, 5G networks will bridge mobile devices, mobile applications, and an assortment of collaboration tools enabling a new digital ecosystem.

Standardizing the Telecom Multiverse

As one of the most complex and expensive technology projects since the smartphone era began, the rollout of 5G networks could take more than a decade to complete. But it may mean a very different Internet. A unified global 5G network could enable a seamlessly interconnected Fourth Industrial Revolution that literally remakes the world’s social, technological and even political systems. However, enabling interconnected global systems will mean negotiating common specifications of the 5G standard. 

The United States, Europe and Asia have all been heavily involved in the standards-setting process, and for good reason: companies whose technology becomes the industry standard will lead in the 5G world.

Standards-setting and spectrum allocation for 5G networks are now critical to countries racing to gain a competitive advantage. Standard-setting will determine not only the design of 5G networks but also the flows of capital between participants within the 5G ecosystem. The United States, Europe and Asia have all been heavily involved in the standards-setting process, and for good reason: companies whose technology becomes the industry standard will lead in the 5G world.

The long-term vision is 5G will lead to the invention of a wide range of new products and services that increase productivity and drive a new generation of entrepreneurial industries. Licensing could also be a meaningful revenue driver, with Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei and Qualcomm holding a significant amount of intellectual property (IP) in 5G technologies. Within the labyrinthine world of telecommunication standards, companies and trade groups will determine whose patents will regulate the world of smart cities, smart factories, self-driving cars, medical technologies, and augmented reality.

5G networks are being rolled out in the United States and South Korea, followed by China, Japan, Finland, Australia and a host of other countries. As 5G becomes mainstream, industries such as healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and transport will be under pressure to adapt. 5G will enable a new generation of instantaneous digital commerce and connectivity but it will also bring the world’s communities closer together. Notwithstanding the possibilities, the challenge remains for countries around the world to leverage the capacities of 5G to drive innovation.

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