Introducing an era where everyday devices
communicate with one another_

5G City


With technology advancing more rapidly than ever before, many individuals have wondered what it will be like to live in cities in the future where everyday devices can communicate with each other. To answer this question, various tech companies and telecommunications brands came together last month at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain, in order to demonstrating their plans for 5G networks.

In essence, 5G will equip users with substantially faster data speeds, increased data capacity, improved coverage and lower latency (i.e. quicker response times) than its 4G counterparts. In this manner, 5G has the potential to transform modern cities into ‘smart’ communities wherein technology will be fully integrated with all manner of daily processes. As a Bristol Is Open initiative explains;

“Using data sensors, smart city technologies will be able to respond in real-time to everyday events including congestion, waste management, entertainment events, e-democracy, energy supply and more”[1].

What is 5G?

5G is a next generation wireless network that will equip consumers with exponentially faster data processing and media downloading services. In fact, experts have suggested that 5G could increase data rates beyond 1GB per second; providing consumers and businesses with a peak download rate of 20GB and a peak upload rate of 10GB[2].

Moreover, 5G will facilitate low latency and low battery consumption that will increase the battery life of devices by up to 10 years whilst simultaneously reducing network energy usage by 90%. 5G will promote uninterrupted and consistent connectivity, high resolution graphics and larger bandwidth with a capacity that is 1,000 times greater than 4G[3]. From downloading a movie in a few seconds to enabling smart phone devices to support virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies, 5G could have a dramatic impact on how individual users and companies incorporate technology within our daily processes.

Although wider availability to 5G is not expected until 2020, companies such as AT&T have already announced their plans to offer mobile 5G to customers in dozens of US cities by the end of the year[4]. In fact, T-Mobile have stated that they plan to introduce their 5G network to 30 cities by the end of 2018 including Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and Las Vegas[5].

How will 5G impact modern life?

The lightning quick download speeds, low latency and low energy consumption capabilities of 5G will not only offer massive benefits to individual users but also have the ability to revolutionise modern life. As Phil Twist, VP of Marketing and Comms with Nokia, explained at the Mobile World Congress event;

“There are extremely high-bandwidth applications, like if you have a high-definition virtual reality camera, that needs extremely high bandwidth (to broadcast to another location in real-time)…If you’re trying to do a haptic feedback remote operation with a doctor sitting in a hospital, but the cataract operation is being done by a robotic arm system 30kms away from where he is, you need very short latency and very high reliability…

Or if you’re in a factory environment, you’ve got sensors all around the place that are connected by 5G in a very high density. They are all different use cases that the networks can support, but they’re driven by the use case, not by a desire for simply a faster network”[6].

By 2020 it is expected that approximately 50 billion devices will be connected to mobile networks across the globe[7]. The majority of these communications will occur between machines requiring a fast, responsive and reliable mobile network that can handle vast amounts of data. Experts have stated that 5G will be able to fulfil these network requirements due to its support for Massive Machine Type Communications (MMTC) that will enable machines to communicate with one another on a vast local, national and international scale with minimal human input.

Interested in learning more about 5G cities? Listed below are some of the main ways in which these types of 5G networks could transform city life over the next few years;

Infrastructure : 5G will facilitate the seamless integration of infrastructure and technology. Companies would be able to collect data on electricity usage in order to identify and implement solutions for lower power consumption across the grid. The implications of this would include reduced energy bills for everyday consumers, reduced pollution across entire cities and a greater investment in renewable energy sources. All in all, Accenture studies have suggested that a 5G city with 30,000 people could have a $10 million impact on the city’s power grid and transportation systems[8].

Public venues : Having access to a vast 5G wireless network would revolutionise how modern stadiums, arenas, convention centres and public venues function. Businesses would be able to provide a more integrated viewing experience to their consumers which would also equip them with vast marketing and smart community opportunities.

Transportation : Experts agree that 5G will prove instrumental in powering self-driving cars by providing the low latency required to anticipate pedestrian movements, interact with ‘smart’ traffic lights and connect with other vehicles on the road.

In these 5G cities, smart automobiles would be able to communicate with the smart phones of pedestrians to anticipate traffic conditions and even avoid collisions. These autonomous cars would be able to communicate with traffic networks to restrict street lighting solely to roads that would actively be in use. 5G would also enable these cars to identify available parking spaces throughout the city, reduce citywide congestion and even enable the emergency services to navigate traffic more efficiently.

In fact, a Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh study showed that the use of smart traffic lights resulted in a 40% reduction in vehicle wait time, a 26% faster commute and a 21% decrease in vehicle emissions. As Jane Rygaard, head of 5G marketing at Nokia, explained;

“We see more and more of our customers linking smart city and safe city…5G isn’t just for consumers. It will improve their daily lives—whether that’s through safety, energy or countless other ways”[9].

Despite the fact that 5G networks could be implemented in several American cities by the end of the year, experts have highlighted that 4G is far from finished! As Phil Twist highlighted at the Mobile World Congress event;

“You need to think of 5G not as a replacement for 4G, like 4G was a replacement for 3G, but as a long-term complement, with both existing for a long time together…The evolution of 4G, that we term 4.9G, will take you to several gigabits of speed and will take the latency down far enough that you could take your car out on the highway and be comfortable that it’s being connected, but you wouldn’t want to do it in a closed-mesh city environment, for example. It provides service continuity outside of the 5G areas”[10].

In the meantime, businesses can continue to benefit from advanced 4G networks in order to provide their consumers with next level experiences which actively plan for the future of 5G. A future where we will see website advancements, engagement technologies and digital marketing strategies. Question is, are you ready?