The world is poised to change forever with the implementation of fifth-generation connectivity for data networks across the world. 5G has been promised to be the savior to any connectivity problems we've had in the past and it's also been highlighted as a path towards a fully wireless future.
4G, our current networking infrastructure, brought about a major mobile revolution, allowing us to stream high definition shows wherever and whenever we want. 5G will take that a step further. Even though we're just moving from 4 to 5, the shift isn't just one step up, it's a major leap forward in networking protocols.
5G will bring faster data speeds, low latency communications, and higher data caps for mobile devices. Major sports networks are already using 5G micro-networks to film and stream sporting events live, completely wirelessly. Imagine a network of 30 4K cameras all on one network streaming to a live broadcast – that's what 5G is capable of. 5G is expected to generate 10 trillion USD of revenue by 2035.
5G Changing The World
Here’s a lot more to fifth-generation networks (5G) than the ability to download movies in the blink of an eye or shuttle gigabytes to and from your smartphone faster. The technology will spawn an intelligent ecosystem of connected devices, harvesting massive amounts of data that will change the way we live and work. It will be incredibly fast, stable, and versatile.
Along with data transfer speeds that are ten times faster than 4G, 5G brings reduced latency (the time it takes data to travel back and forth) and the ability to link far more people and things seamlessly at the same time.
Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), extended reality, and blockchain will all see new uses with 5G, as well as combining in new ways, creating new value for businesses.
Four Practical Applications Of Artificial Intelligence And 5G
- Smart Automation
Billions of devices create enormous amounts of data, but that data is of no real use until it’s analyzed. Modern data analytics do that job, but AI will take the process to a whole new level.
In the factory, AI-powered robots will learn on the job and from each other, and will also monitor and manage their own health, ordering spare parts in advance when required, leading to higher productivity and less unscheduled system downtime.
Automation is all about reducing human error and improving network performance and uptime through activities such as low to no-touch device configuration, provisioning, orchestration, monitoring, assurance and reactive issue resolution. AI promises to deliver the "smarts" in analyzing the tasks above, steering networking to a more closed-loop process. Pairing all of this with 5G should help mobile service providers offer simpler activations, higher performance and the rapid deployment of new services. The result should be higher average revenue per subscriber (ARPU) for operators and a more reliable connection, and a better user experience.
- Predictive Remediation
Over time, I believe AI will evolve to enable network operators to move from reactive to proactive issue resolution. They will be able to evaluate large volumes of data for anomalies and make course corrections before issues arise. 5G should enable networks to better handle these predictive functions' complexity and support significantly more connected devices. We're beginning to see AI-powered predictive remediation applied to the enterprise networking sector to positive results, via some tier one carriers and 5G infrastructure providers such as Ericsson. In my opinion, one of the most significant impacts of AI in mobile networks will be the reduction of subscriber churn. That is a huge consideration—carriers are spending billions of dollars building fixed and mobile 5G networks. They must be able to add and retain customers.
- Digital Transformation Acceleration
One of the pandemic's silver linings is the acceleration, out of necessity, of businesses' digital transformation. The distributed nature of work from home has put tremendous pressure on corporate and mobile networks from a scalability, reliability, and security perspective. Many connectivity infrastructure providers are embracing AIOps for its potential to supercharge DevOps and SecOps. AI will also help operators better manage the lifecycle of 5G deployments from a planning, deployment, ongoing operations, and maintenance perspective. For example, China Unicom leveraged AI to transform how it internally manages operations and how it interfaces with partners and customers. In 2019, the operator reported a 30% reduction in time to product delivery and a 60% increase in productivity for leased line activations.
- Enhanced User Experiences
The combination of AI and 5G will unlock transformative user experiences across consumer and enterprise market segments. I expanded on this topic in my Mobile World Congress 2019 analysis, which you can find here if interested. At a high level, AI has the potential to reduce the number of subscriber service choices, presenting the most relevant ones based on past behavior. I believe the result will be higher subscriber loyalty and operator monetization.
- Wrapping Up
Though AI is hyped all around, there is particular synergy with 5G. Mobile networks are no longer just a "dumb pipe" for data access. AI can improve new device provisioning, deliver high application and connectivity performance, accelerate digital transformation, and provide exceptional user experiences. For service providers, I also believe AI and 5G will result in operational expense savings and drive incremental investment in new service delivery. In my mind, that is a win-win for subscribers, operators, and infrastructure providers alike.
Will 5G Bring About A New Era?
5G is a wireless network infrastructure exponentially better than anything we've ever seen before. Businesses will be able to have access to anything they need from a tech perspective without massive barriers to entry. 5G will allow AI and predictive learnings to thrive from anywhere, meaning predictive maintenance and truly useful IoT. 5G will likely bring about a new technological revolution for businesses.