In an article titled ‘The Path to 5G’, Derek McManus (O2’s COO) has outlined some of the ways the world could change for the better when 5G is available.
He notes that different countries have different focuses when it comes to what 5G will enable, but some examples he gives of how it could benefit the UK include a revolution in remote working and conference calling.
The bandwidth and low latency of 5G should at the very least mean an end to buffering, but he goes further, saying that you’ll be able to collaborate with colleagues in the cloud and even all be virtually sat around the same table, using augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR).
Offices, health and supply chains
Another example McManus gives is of flexible office spaces, with 5G sensors and cameras able to detect whether there are people in the office, adjusting lighting and temperatures accordingly, as well as being able to stream CCTV footage live to mobile phones.
This could mean work spaces will be both safer and more efficient, with a reduced carbon footprint, since for example heating will only be on when it’s needed.
He also points to improved supply chain management, with 5G allowing for real-time tracking of a product within a supply chain, going so far as being able to track moisture and pressure, rather than just a product’s location.
And for healthcare he notes that the NHS could benefit from video conferencing and real-time remote health monitoring, both of which would be more viable with 5G. These sorts of initiatives could free up 1.1 million GP hours according to O2’s research.
Just the beginning
These are just a few examples that he’s chosen to focus on. There are plenty of other ways that 5G could benefit society, from using sensors to monitor traffic flow, thereby reducing congestion and CO2 emissions, to powering 4K esports live broadcasts, broadcasting more live events in general and replacing fibre broadband in the home.
Indeed, McManus is clearly very excited about 5G’s potential, going so far as to say “I’m convinced 5G is going to have a bigger impact on the way we live than any new technology we’ve seen since the introduction of electricity.“
He adds though that getting the most out of 5G will be a long journey and that the prep work is already well underway. That’s clear in O2’s case, as the network has for example recently begun paving the way to 5G with a fibre rollout in London’s sewers and a Massive MIMO 5G pilot, among other things.
O2 doesn’t seem in as much of a hurry as some networks, as it looks set to launch a live 5G service in 2020, while many others will land in 2019, but by the sounds of things O2 is committed to doing it right.