Last night as I was beaming my favourite TV series from my desktop computer onto my connected TV and my friend was simultaneously sending his favourite YouTube music videos onto the same TV, I reflected on how much our ‘media lives’ have changed. When I was a little younger, the only thing that was remotely technological was figuring how to record a TV programme on a VHS recorder. We didn’t have Internet, nor did we have a mobile phone.
Well here in Barcelona, it is that time of the year when mobile technology professionals and journalists descend on the city to take part in the yearly Mobile World Congress and, apparently, our lives are set to undergo more radical changes in the next years to come.
Interestingly, 2018 is being seen by many as marking the beginning of what is being dubbed the fourth Industrial Revolution, and the acronym that is on everyone’s lips in the Catalan capital is 5G.
What is 5G and how will it change our lives?
5G (the G stands for generation) is the latest and best standard for sending data across the mobile network. It supersedes 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G offering easier, cheaper and faster transfers of data and as such promises to bring about revolutionary changes to the way we live our day-to-day lives and the way we do business. So why is it so revolutionary? Well, there are a number of factors:
Higher Data Rates
5G promises to offer much higher data rates than 4G. Because it can go at very high speeds at a low cost, it will mean that we will be able to replace our home Wi-Fi networks with 5G. For those of us unable to access high speed networks or fibre, this will be very welcome.
Another advantage of its low price is that the Internet of things (connected fridges, weighing scales, weather sensors etc.) will now be able to connect to 5G and therefore will no longer be restricted to home use. You can imagine an explosion of devices that we will be able to use outside our homes that are connected to the Internet like a shopping bag telling us what we need to buy.
This sounds technical but latency is just the delay it takes for the data to be sent. 5G has a very low latency which means that it can communicate with other objects extremely quickly and this makes it very useful for self-driving cars, for example, where cars need to make decisions very quickly to avoid crashing into each other!
Better VR and AR
5G promises to bring better virtual reality and augmented reality to our phones. We will be able to see objects superimposed on real or imaginary worlds and this will mean better gaming but also easier ways to access information.
More exciting business opportunities
However, perhaps the biggest changes will be in business as it will become much easier and cheaper to build technologically advanced solutions. Technology will no longer just be for the rich multinationals but available to all to create and develop solutions and services that we have never even imagined.
They say that industrial revolutions come only once every seventy years. The last industrial revolution brought us mainframe computers and later Internet.
This fourth industrial revolution is apparently going to turn our worlds upside down. Are you ready?!
Beaming (verb) – sending through the air
Remotely (adverb) – very slightly
dubbed (verb) – called
rates (noun) – speeds
devices (noun) – machines
latency (noun) – the time needed to send an instruction for data to be sent