As mobile technologies continue to change the way we connect, communicate, and collaborate, 5G holds the key to the next wave of digital transformation. The investment is significant, but higher speeds and lower latency will create new opportunities for business models and services in every sector.
Co-hosts Jim Love, CIO of ITWC, and Doug Sparkes, a lecturer at the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business, consider the pros and cons of the 5G investment in Deeper Dive, a 5-part podcast series created by ITWC to clarify misconceptions around 5G. Sponsorship for episode two, 5G: Magic or Menace, comes from Wipro Canada.
More than Entertainment
Although 5G is often lauded for bringing a new tactile dimension to entertainment, Love says the entertainment aspects are far less important than 5G’s ability to drive innovation. “We should view it as something that enables technology, and not just as a network with higher frequency and faster data transfer,” he says.
Sparkes agrees that 5G applications far surpass video, commenting that it will drive possibilities for industries ranging from healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation to agriculture, education and infrastructure. For the emerging field of autonomous vehicles, he goes as far as saying that people in crowded settings will be unable to manage without 5G.
With 5G capable phones now hitting the market, it may seem imminent. The reality, however, is that Canada is just beginning the 5G journey and the uptake is happening primarily in major cities. For both Sparkes and Love, it comes down to the economics of deploying 5G in a country the size of Canada. “Although 5G is unbelievably fast and can accommodate amazing volumes of data, it can only do that in short distances,” says Sparkes. “Since 5G works at a much higher frequency than the previous generations, it has a much shorter range, which means that more towers are required to get the same coverage and deployment is far more expensive.”
There are other impediments as well, including questions related to privacy and cybersecurity. There are also health concerns, most of which Sparkes attributes to misinformation. “At this time, there is no credible research that links 5G to health problems,” he says. “And the research around this has been going on for decades.”
Despite these issues, Sparkes and Love concur that the 5G rollout is going to happen, and that sensors and devices will become less expensive and people will get more creative. “The demand is there – at least in large urban areas,” says Sparkes. “In less populated areas it’s a different story, so in some places we are going to see fast 4G rather than true 5G.”
Getting in the Game
The key point, from their perspective, is that 5G is going to power things that will make the world a better place – things, which according to Sparkes, we cannot even imagine. “If we are going to be players in future applications like virtual reality, augmented reality, smart cars, infrastructure, medicine and manufacturing, we can’t afford to sit back and get around to deploying 5G,” he says. “We have to be working now to be at the forefront of this technology.”
If you enjoyed episodes one and two of Deeper Dive, and want to learn more about the practical applications of 5G and how hype impacts a new technology’s life cycle, join Jim and Doug for episode three: The Hype Curve.