5G may be the biggest development in network technology in a decade. Yet somewhat surprisingly it tends to be discussed almost entirely on an industry level, or from a technical perspective. There’s relatively little discussion about 5G’s potential benefits for everyday consumers. But below, we’ll take a look at some of these benefits to better frame what the emergence of 5G may mean, within the next year or two, to the average mobile tech user.
Better Connectivity In Cities
Right now, a lot of consumers are aware that 5G is coming, and associate it primarily with speed. The natural progression, from 3G to 4G to 5G, is one of more efficient and consistent connections. When a mobile user who’s used to 4G today finds him- or herself on 3G for whatever reason, the reaction tends to be that it seems incredibly slow, just like a weaker WiFi connection.
Speed will indeed improve with 5G, but as these networks spread, the main benefit may actually have to do with bandwidth. This essentially means that more devices can run on the same network, and handle a greater amount of data and functions, without slowing each other down. This is something that will be noticeable in crowded areas – most notably cities – and it will lead to unprecedented strength and consistency of connectivity.
Sports and music arenas are somewhat famous for stunting data speeds and connectivity. Now, however, some are specifically being designed or augmented to combat this issue. Much has been made, for instance, of Verizon’s decision to launch its 5G network in a number of NFL stadiums for the 2019 season (which incidentally just began a few weeks prior to this writing). The brand new, semi-experimental “Sphere” music venue in Las Vegas is also expected to take significant steps toward allowing concert-goers to connect and share data during shows (though Vegas more broadly is experimenting with 5G as well). Long story short, it’s going to stop being such a pain to use your data when in a crowded stadium or arena.
Better Sports Streaming
Sports streaming is something people increasingly do on the go, thanks to the growing number of apps that facilitate it. And we may only just be getting started in this regard, with the sports betting business looming as another potential boost to streaming. Not long ago this was a big but confined business, but it’s in the process of going more mainstream. Popular fantasy sports sites with tens of millions of users are getting in on the action; DraftKings has its own sportsbook now, and FanDuel does as well. Additionally, the American market, containing millions upon millions of potential new bettors, is opening itself to betting from a legal perspective. All of this is happening even as betting gets more immersive, incorporates more “live” listings, and even flirts with VR applications.
That is to say, betting may soon be adding even more streaming activity to the already-busy mobile sports streaming ecosystem. All of this activity, on the go, requires a robust and capable network, and those who participate in alll of this will undoubtedly reap the benefits of 5G.
To some extent this fits in with all of the ideas above at once, because by definition the IoT incorporates multiple entities on connected networks. That said, it’s worth mentioning specifically that 5G will boost the IoT to new levels, and act as a catalyst for new consumer and enterprise experiences. These might include better streaming (as discussed), more capable self-driving cars, and a version of virtual reality far more impressive than what we’ve seen to date. Some of this will happen in a behind-the-scenes way, and we might not necessarily notice incremental improvements. But if you open your eyes in two years and see self-driving urban transportation networks, or you realize VR finally became what you imagined it could, it’s likely you’ll have 5G to thank.