5G is the fifth generation of mobile connectivity technology. Much like 4G and 3G before it, 5G’s rollout over the next couple of years will change the speed at which we can access the internet and media through our smartphones.
Unlike previous generational jumps though, the transition to 5G will prove much more significant. The jump from 3G to 4G speeds meant that video and heavier media sources could be accessed much more quickly than before. This led to a rise in popularity of video functionality on social media platforms.
5G will allow for speeds 100 times greater than 4G but if most users on 4G can already browse the internet and stream video without practically any delay what advantages are these extra speeds given by 5G going to offer?
1. Speed means more than just faster downloads
Latency (usually measured in milliseconds) is the delay between a user pinging a server and the server processing and sending the request back to the user. Put simply, it is the amount of time it takes for a download to actually begin after you’ve clicked the ‘download button’. Low latency is important because ultra fast internet speeds wouldn’t be worth much if web pages, movies and music downloaded instantly but it took minutes every time to actually start the download.
With 4G, latency is typically 50ms, which is pretty fast already. With 5G though, we can expect a reduction to 20-25ms immediately with the technology theoretically capable of reducing latency to 1ms. With these speeds browsing a website will feel as responsive as browsing through the menu of your phone.
Browsing online will feel as responsive as browsing through the menu of your phone
2. Mainstream adoption of VR & AR
Aside from the more obvious advantages, reduced latency will open the door for many new applications, particularly in the mobile virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR) space.
Google, Microsoft and Apple already offer some VR and AR products and we are starting to see more and more uses of it in retail, gaming and property. 5G is expected to catapult the adoption of AR into more everyday applications.
With VR, users will be offered much more immersive and media rich experiences in the form of 360 degree videos and with AR we’ll see users pointing the cameras on their phones at objects and the world around them to receive live visual information. Picture a tourist pointing their phone at a landmark to receive information about it or a shopper pointing their phone at a product to receive comparative pricing.
All of the above already exists but 5G is set to open the floodgates on these features and greatly improve the user experience.
Augmented Reality will become a technology we will use more regularly
3. Billions more IoT devices
Network density isn't typically a feature of 5G advertised to consumers but it will have a massive effect on consumer products, especially connected devices. 4G technology allows up to 2000 connected devices per kilometre squared whereas 5G allows for 1,000,000.
This presents a number of opportunities for developers working on Internet of Things (IoT) devices. By the end of 2020 it is estimated that there will be a staggering 31 billion connected IoT devices around the world and this number is expected to double by 2025.
Digital product designers and developers for these devices currently need to be conscious of the bandwidth needed by these devices and how much they will add to network congestion.
5G will tackle this potential congestion problem and open up the door to IoT devices with richer, more bandwidth heavy features than are possible today. This will lead to rapid advancements with self-driving cars, industrial robots and smart cities, just to name a few on a very large list of potential applications.
5G will lead to rapid advancements in the technology that powers self-driving cars
4. Both web & app design are about to change
As already stated, 5G is faster. Much faster! As such, apps and websites will now be designed with much higher fidelity user interfaces (UI) and heavy media content. Photography, video, 3D and motion graphics will be more readily integrated into the design of every digital product. What’s more, these apps are expected to run/operate more efficiently than anything we have today.
3D has obvious uses for the gaming industry but will now have the potential to be more widely adopted by other industries such as education, construction and healthcare in their applications.
Designing these media rich experiences will lead to some challenges though, especially during the transitional phase of 5G’s rollout. Two versions of each app might be necessary for a while to accommodate users who don’t have access to 5G yet.
Companies will need a 5G strategy and business model to ensure that their digital product will remain cutting edge or at the very least, current. Having a digital design strategist advise on this period of change will definitely help ease this transition.
5G will fundamentally change how developers and designers approach creating websites and apps
5. It’s coming sooner than you think
The rollout of 5G is well under way. Globally, there are already 125 operators with almost 9000 towers deployed. That being said, it will be a few years before we see mainstream adoption.
As of the end of 2019 there were only 12.9 million 5G subscribers globally but that number is expected to reach 1.9 billion by 2024. The global infrastructure costs for this rollout are expected to be about 3-5 trillion in USD but it’s set to be a good investment. Experts are predicting that the global 5G market will be worth 11 trillion USD by 2026.
It is estimated that over 1.9 billion active subscriptions to 5G will be reached by 2024
Build it right
At MiniCorp, we build exceptional digital products and experiences. We don't just build products that work, we build products that thrive.
We are excited about the possibilities 5G presents.
If you’d like to make sure that your digital product is 5G ready and embrace the opportunities available contact us today.