5G is the fifth generation of mobile connectivity, the latest since 4G was rolled out in 2008. With the introduction of 5G networks, smartphones and other smart devices will be able to operate with more reliable connections at faster speeds—the few 5G networks in operation are already at least twice as fast as their 4G predecessor and are expected to become even quicker, effectively transmitting data in real-time.

While most people only think of cell phones and data speed, 5G networks will actually open new doors for technological possibilities. The MIT Technology Review related the change from 4G to 5G as a “technological paradigm shift similar to the jump from the typewriter to the computer.” The interconnectedness of the modern world is about to become even more tightly woven.

black smartphone

The latency rate of 5G, or the speed at which information is transmitted, is one millisecond, while the top speed available with a 4G network is 100 milliseconds, and the average human reaction time to visual stimuli is 250 milliseconds. The instantaneous transmission rate of 5G will change medicine, transportation, and more.

5G technology is breaking into Southeast Asia

5G and medicine

In January 2019, in China, a surgeon performed the first telesurgery using a 5G network from 30 miles away. The doctor removed the liver of an animal using robotic arms. The speed of 5G makes this possible and significantly lowers the risks of mistakes that could be caused due to lag time or poor image quality. At the 2018 German Society of Surgery, senior physician Dr Michael Kranzfelder remarked, “5G will open up many new areas of application for which the previous mobile data transmission standard was simply not fast enough.” 

Once 5G enabled telesurgery becomes more common, it will have profound effects in regions where there is a shortage of specialised surgeons, such as developing countries, small or rural hospitals, and combat zones. Like any new technology with life-threatening potential, it will have to be carefully studied and refined before it becomes accessible to everyone.

5G and the Internet of Things

5G will allow millions of devices to be connected to and communicate with each other simultaneously. 

Cars will be able to communicate vehicle to vehicle (V2V), as well as to other aspects of the world around you. With 5G, cellular vehicle to everything (C-V2X) applications will change transportation in cities. Since 5G networks can deal with and connect to more information than human minds can process, car accidents may become extinct. The car would be able to synthesise information about traffic patterns, pedestrians and cyclists, hazards and changes in road conditions, and adjust accordingly. Traffic jams could become a thing of the past, and countless lives could be saved from traffic-related fatalities.

lighted city at night aerial photo

Automotive technology will only be as successful as the infrastructure around them. 5G is critical for the development of smart cities. Aside from transportation and medicine, 5G networks could have a considerable impact on public safety. A street light connected to a 5G network would be able to keep public safety officials informed of incidents, by way of video cameras and gunshot detectors. Ambulances with 5G connectivity may be able to arrive at those in need sooner because of the previously mentioned traffic applications, and simultaneously inform the hospital and doctors of the situation before arrival.

5G Singapore, as well as other major global cities, is already gaining traction. Overall, the potential of a smart city will automate and improve basic daily tasks, leaving the higher-level and communications-based work for its residents.

5G and disruptions in consumer behaviour 

In early 2019, South Korean telecom company SK Telecom utilised 5G technology at the opening game of the SK Wyverns in Incheon. They displayed an AR wyvern, a dragon-like mythical creature flying around the stadium. The beast was visible on the LED scoreboard in the stadium—the world’s largest—as well as to viewers watching the game on TV or smartphone. SK Telecom also added an interactive element by adding a ‘cheer’ button on a smartphone app for the fans at the stadium.

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This will become the norm once everyone is connected to a 5G network. Consumer behaviour is bound to change, as well as expectations in key verticals. AR and VR have been niche applications because of the technological requirements—5G will make it easier to add AR and VR elements to aspects of everyday life, from transportation to video games. Imagine if your alarm clock not only woke you up but also told your coffee machine to start brewing when you hit the snooze button. With the introduction of 5G networks, this may soon become a reality. 

5G is being implemented around the world already, and when it is everywhere, everyone’s lives will be changed forever. While the jump from 3G to 4G was barely noticeable, 5G connectivity will make the world look like a futuristic version of the one we currently reside in, and 5G Singapore is ready. Are you?