5G will become the next frontier in machine-to-machine communication, taking connectivity beyond smartphones to sensors, vehicles, robots and drones. This would lead to industry-altering changes in sectors ranging from agriculture and healthcare to manufacturing and public safety. 5G offers high speed and ubiquitous connectivity coupled with distinctive properties such as low latency and high throughput, which makes it more versatile than the previous technologies.
According to Ericsson’s business potential study, 5G has the ability to generate business opportunity worth over $27 billion in India by 2026. In terms of industries, manufacturing is expected to generate the biggest opportunity at $2.4 billion, followed by energy and utilities at $2.1 billion, public safety at $1.6 billion and healthcare at $1.6 billion. A look at 5G use cases across verticals…
5G will enable process automation in the manufacturing industry and enhance operational efficiency, thereby increasing productivity and revenues. It is expected to provide the network, that will keep factories connected in real time with suppliers and customers, thereby making them smarter and more efficient. Moreover, with 5G-enabled augmented reality (AR), companies would be able to create a virtual back office and remotely use the data obtained by the smart devices to provide training and instructions.
Digitalisation of the energy sector in India could enhance electricity access as well as improve energy efficiency and utilisation. This can also help in reducing unplanned outages through close monitoring of equipment and identifying human errors. 5G networks have the potential to meet these requirements.
In healthcare, 5G can enable the effective delivery of telemedicine, tele-control of surgical robotics and wireless monitoring of vital statistics. The implementation of internet of things (IoT), big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have resulted in the development of several use cases, which have the capability of transforming the doctor-patient relationship.
One of them is connected healthcare, which allows remote diagnosis for complex cases and performing pre-planned surgeries in remote locations. With 5G, all this will become feasible as it would improve the outreach as well as the quality of healthcare services across India.
The internet of medical things (IoMT) could help physicians remotely monitor a patient’s ingestion and medicine intake in real time. Online consultations and virtual doctor-patient interactions on account of high data speeds is expected to reduce the long waiting time for patients. Finally, the centralisation of patient records would make them more accessible and secure, which in turn is expected to expedite the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
Safety of the public has been one of the most contentious issues in India. The use of sensors, cameras and other automated devices like drones could provide significant information, which could in turn ensure public safety. Further, 5G networks could assist in integrating information from diverse source feeds into public safety operations, enabling it to become less reactive and more proactive.
Banking, financial services and insurance
5G technology is poised to help banks, and finance and insurance companies to deliver new and innovative mobile banking services for their customers. The forthcoming 5G networks will help create a new virtual platform for the delivery of these services.
As 5G enhancements create more reliable and responsive networks, they can help banks and other financial institutions ensure that the future of banking and financial services is more productive, efficient and protected. Finance professionals will also be able to use 5G to create more efficient back-end processes.
The adoption of 5G-enabled technologies such as IoT, big data analytics, AI and drones will lead to improvement in the productivity of yield, bring transparency across the value chain and ensure smarter supporting infrastructure. This would in turn increase farm returns.
Autonomous vehicles powered by 5G will know how to manoeuvre and identify the parking spots and alternatives to street parking without a driver, thereby speeding up traffic movement and reducing congestion. Apart from this, 5G would boost vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication, wherein the vehicle communicates with varied elements such as other vehicles, infrastructure and devices. This would lead to a reduction in road accidents, real-time traffic routing, pedestrians’ safety alerts and emergency braking.
Meanwhile, 5G will also enable “vehicle platooning”, a technology that exploits 5G’s low latency communication capability to pack vehicles into platoons with low inter-vehicle spacing despite travelling at high speeds. 5G will allow for rapid coordination between vehicles and keep vehicles in the platoon safe.
5G-enabled smart and connected homes of the future will offer multi-gigabit broadband, broader in-home coverage and trusted connections that would ultimately make it possible to deliver new personalised home experiences. The key aspects in a smart and connected home are dependable connectivity and secure management of all devices.
The retail industry has to constantly change itself to match customer needs and interests. This is because customers expect a unique and personalised shopping experience with customised products. Further, with the rise of e-commerce firms, users are able to get this experience online. Therefore, retailers are required to offer complete flexibility in sales channels along with better customer experience. With 5G, retailers can make use of in-store analytics, radio frequency identification tags, hand held devices, heat mapping technology and beacons to enhance customer experience.
The future learning model could be virtual, immediate and interactive, which would enable personalisation and on-demand availability of skill programmers. The use of “tactile internet” along with VR and AR would make the adoption of methods such as tele-teaching, tele-mentoring, virtual university, virtual classrooms and virtual teamworking, among otherthings, easier. The response time of services should be very low for such applications, which can be ensured only by 5G.
5G smart transport systems will enable vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, thereby improving the public transport system significantly. Further, road sensor networks will make roads safer, more eco-friendly and easier to navigate. An improved transportation system will also help businesses, service providers, industries, insurance companies, security companies and governmental institutions as any smart vehicle would be able to transmit information to other smart vehicles.
With affordable smartphones and the increasing uptake of digital products, the media and entertainment industry is expected to be one of the key sectors to be impacted by 5G. Moreover, with the increasing use of the internet and other digital resources, consumption of digital services across different media, online gaming, animation and visual effects, as well as live event viewing are expected to grow at a rapid pace. User-generated live streams are also expected to proliferate and these improvements in media consumption could lead to innovations across premium content services such as dedicated VR-enabled sports channels and multiplayer mobile games. In addition, the distribution of high resolution digital content would require seamless coverage and high bandwidth, which 5G could provide.
At present, 4G and wireline networks are being utilised in smart cities around the world. However, they are limited in the number of connections they can support, the data they can transmit and the speed they can offer. 5G networks are expected to overcome these issues as it enables a large number of connections, provides higher bandwidth and ultra-low latency-based communications to build a connected and smarter city. The 5G use cases in the case of smart cities includes video surveillance, intelligent transport, smart grids and metering systems with smart street lights and solid waste management, among others.
The way forward
Industry leaders are betting big on the 5G ecosystem in India and expect commercial roll-out to take place in 2020, the same year as it is expected to in the US, China and South Korea. According to Ericsson’s Mobility Report of June 2018, India will have over 10 million 5G subscriptions by 2023. However, it is still at the testing stage whereas its counterparts have already entered the implementation stage and are well on track to catch the 5G bus by 2020. While industry participation has been by and large lukewarm till now, it is likely to gain momentum given the many benefits the technology promises to offer.