Is 5G going to be as big an innovation as was the internet? It is too early to tell. But here’s an exercise, taking a range of claimed Internet benefits and simply substituting the word “5G.”
“Unlike its predecessors though, Internet is a technological paradigm shift, akin to the shift from typewriter to computer. And it isn’t just a network. Internet will become the underlying fabric of an entire ecosystem of fully connected intelligent sensors and devices, capable of overhauling economic and business policies, and further blurring geographical and cultural borders. It will be capable of delivering at every rung of the ecosystem’s ladder, and will provide seamless, continuous connectivity for business applications.”
- “5G will be a fundamental shift in the way communications networks are managed and operate; a marked distinction from previous mobile generations
- 5G is no longer just about communications, but connectivity solutions. Data rate and capacity have traditionally been key metrics, but Internet significantly improves other metrics such as latency and coverage. This allows enhanced connectivity for a much wider range of applications across all sectors and industries.
- Major mobile operators will have to focus on an expanded value chain to sustain high growth, while key players from other sectors will find themselves integrated into the wider telco industry.
- 5G will become a universal connectivity platform, and will have a profound impact on the way devices and people communicate and interact.”
- “5G will turn connectivity into a platform. With Internet, wireless access networks will go beyond pipe, providing seamless, ubiquitous, and limitless connectivity for all people and all things.
- Everything will go 5G. Right now, most things are offline by default, and most electronic devices are not connected. With 5G, being online and connected will become the default for everything.
- The world will go all cloud. Supercharged with 5G, the cloud will provide massive computing power with instant transfer speeds and near-zero lag. This will make intelligence on demand available for everyone, everywhere. New business models like Cloud X – where devices are boosted by inexhaustible cloud-based resources – will begin to emerge.
- Devices will be redefined. With AI support across devices, network, and the cloud, devices will go from plug and play to plug and think. They will understand users better – able to actively predict our needs, not just passively respond to commands – and interact with us in more natural ways.
- Experience will flow seamlessly. With existing networks, our online experience is fragmented from one scenario to another. When all things are 5G and cloud-based, experience and content will flow seamlessly through time, space, and devices for a truly holistic experience across all scenarios.”
The point is that many potentially huge innovations, such as internet of things, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and autonomous vehicles are enabled by a complex of technologies and platforms. Internet is part of that complex, but ultimately just a part.
That is not to say 5G will fail to play a role in creation of a big new platform for apps, services, use cases and revenue models and sources. But separating the impact of 5G specifically, from all the other important changes, is a perilous exercise.
The internet itself, AI, VR, semiconductor advances, use of millimeter wave spectrum, device advances or other technologies might play key roles. Or not.
The big point is that all the incoming innovations likely are not solely driven by 5G. If successful innovations happen, they might not even require 5G. It just is impossible to say, right now.