5G Set to Disrupt Both the Physical and Virtual Worlds


If there’s one major conclusion in telecommunications vendor Ericsson’s recent survey on use of 5G telephony, it’s that 5G will fuel wide-spread disruption. The survey report gathers information and opinion from eight industry sectors. Five of them are staples, in which disruption can be seen as an opportunity or a threat: automotive, utilities, public safety, healthcare, and financial services. By comparison, disruption is often the name of the game for the other three: Internet/digital natives, media and gaming, and high-tech manufacturing.

Going the Next-Generation Mobile Route

Ericsson presents 5G networks as essentially mobile-based, with up to 100 times higher data rates, 1,000 times more data volumes, 5 times lower network latency, and as much as 10 years of battery life in remote cellular devices. This differs from the converged fiber-wireless network model with “short” wireless links at the end of fiber optic links. Some of the use cases discussed in Ericsson’s survey may require wide-area mobile networking, rather than “nomadic” Wi-Fi – the connected car, eminently mobile, is one example.

Use Cases and 5G Futures for Eight Different Sectors

Potential applications for 5G revolve around precise remote control (thanks to near-zero latency) and large-scale connectivity of devices (higher data rates and volumes). Agility in the underlying networks will then allow network operators to change speed, capacity, and latency at will and according to user needs. Examples are lowest latency for remote manufacturing robots and remote medical intervention, and highest capacity for public safety sensors generating large amounts of monitoring data.

650-plus decision-makers took part in the survey. A summary of the use cases most relevant to them plays out like this:

  • Automotive. 5G connectivity can help attract more customers, thanks to smarter driving and service features in cars. 5G helps the connected car become a reality, reinforcing the bond between customers and vendors. Automotive vendors also want 5G to improve productivity and efficiency in factories, supply chains, and dealerships.
  • Utilities. Remote monitoring of facilities and infrastructure for safety, security, and preventive maintenance are high priority use cases. Long lifespans for battery-driven devices and end points are a key factor too – massive deployment of remote sensors only makes sense if they are themselves low or zero-maintenance.
  • Public safety. Improved communications performance and security will help responsiveness in emergency situations. Network service agility will allow responders to be given communications priority over other users at such critical times.
  • High-tech manufacturing. Productivity, customer experience, and time to market are key drivers in this sector. 5G can help by expanding video surveillance and control of assets, improving M2M (machine to machine) communications, and enhancing safety and security on remote and lights-out sites.
  • Internet/digital natives. This sector is defined in the survey by example: online stores, social media, digital collaborative networks, and Uber-style services (including but not limited to transport) are some of them. 5G is attractive because it fosters innovation and disruption, part of the landscape for such digital native enterprises, who also want to master 5G and use it before competitors use it against them.
  • Healthcare. One of the biggest promises that next-generation mobile networks hold out to this sector is that of remote medical diagnosis and care. While security is considered as important as performance, this group of respondents almost all (94%) said they would make significant changes in their business to put 5G to work.
  • Financial services. This sector is historically an important consumer of information and networking technology. However, evolution rather than revolution was the tone of responses to the survey. Enhanced real-time mobile and high-frequency trading was seen as a potential advantage of 5G, together with enhanced customer experience.
  • Media and gaming. 4K video streaming, virtual reality, live personal 3D broadcasting, and coverage for users anywhere are all gleams in the eyes of executives in this sector. 5G could make them all happen. Like digital natives, media and gaming companies also need to disrupt to avoid being disrupted.

With 5G, the Physical World Makes a Comeback Too

Yet, even as virtual reality becomes an increasingly larger slice of everyday life, 5G networks are set to do more than just disrupt activities in cyber space. As the survey points out, industries likely to get the most out of 5G are those that also connect to the physical as well as the virtual world, such as the automotive, utilities, public safety, healthcare, and even high-tech manufacturing sectors.

Maravedis and 4G 360 provide leading market research and content marketing for the wireless industry.


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Mr. Fellah, is a Senior Analyst and founder of Maravedis with 20-year experience in the wireless industry. He authored various landmark reports on Wi-Fi, LTE, 4G and technology trends in various industries including retail, restaurant and hospitality. He is regularly asked to speak at leading wireless and marketing events and to contribute to various influential portals and magazines such as RCR Wireless, 4G 360, Rethink Wireless, The Mobile Network, Telecom Reseller to name a few. He is a Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) and Certified Wireless Technology Specialist (CWTS).


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