You’ve seen it advertised in commercials, plastered on billboards, or maybe discussed in a coffee shop. 5G is slowly immersing itself into our daily lives and conversations, but make no mistake, there’s nothing slow about it. 5G is fifth-generation cellular network technology. It’s the next step in global, wireless, high-speed communications. The moniker is reflective of the lineage of this type of technology, meaning there were four prior network generations before 5G.
First through third generations spanned from the 1980s to 2010, evolving from voice transmissions (picture a bulky, old phone with an antenna) to mobile data (early smartphones). We’re currently living in the 4G LTE era. It was originally 4G, but developers added the “Long Term Evolution” element to facilitate the eventual transition to 5G. To understand the difference between 4G and 5G, imagine 4G as the standard shipping option for an online order. It usually takes 7 to 10 business days to arrive. Under that same analogy, 5G is the next-day shipping option. According to Qualcomm, 5G enables the download of an 8k movie 500% faster than 4G LTE.
As the world moves toward wide-spread implementation of 5G, the way we work, communicate, and use technology will be revolutionized. The technological ecosystem will drastically advance with higher speeds, lower latency, and increased reliability. While 5G will greatly improve the productivity and functionality of our personal devices, it’s also poised to transform various industries. That transformation will depend on two key elements, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine communications (M2M).
The IoT is the connectivity of data-generating devices and how they communicate with each other. M2M is a network that allows connected machines or devices to communicate and share data automatically, without human interference.
The agriculture industry is primed for significant advancements through 5G and its capabilities. 5G could exponentially increase productivity with precise, data-driven agriculture through field and livestock monitoring, automated soil and temperature information, and self-sufficient farming machines. Farms have the potential to take massive strides from 5G sensors and machines, which will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to maximize output, while rendering a more efficient operation.
That window of opportunity is just as prominent in the construction/engineering sect. The Internet of Things is particularly promising in relation to building design and remote-site access. With the addition of IoT sensors, the entire operational framework of a project would be streamlined to high-speed communications, from project monitoring to employee productivity.
Heavy machinery could be transformed under the influence of 5G. Equipment could be autonomously and remotely operated through artificial intelligence and M2M communications. Those same machines would be capable of providing instant updates from the work site, including real-time progress on models or drawings.