July 16, 2021

Guest Blog: Imagining a 5G future

Photo of hand holding a mobile phone in a busy street

Andy Hawkins, itech4good. With over 20 years in IT and telecoms working for major global brands including Siemens, Andy Hawkins now advises start-ups using technology as a force for good - for people, planet and profit. He is also a B Corp advisor.

I have been in technology for most of my career. I see many changes on the horizon which will only be made possible by 5G.

With the other networks 1G through to 4G they just happened. 5G is different. It’s game changing in every aspect of our lives and a step change to everything we have seen up until now.

Working in the business for purpose sector I see 5G as being a true enabler infrastructure for innovation – like roads or the internet. I think we will see a whole movement of new ideas which can be brought to life and reach more people because of 5G.

The ‘for good’ that will delivered by 5G is almost limitless. Autonomous vehicles giving independence and reducing emissions; greater flexibility for remote and flexible working; healthcare innovation such as telemedicine and ‘always on’ health monitoring. It’s a huge list.

For me there are five real life examples of how I think 5G will revolutionise the way we live and work.

1. Transport and driving

The word ‘car’ might be outdated in just ten years’ time. We might instead have a personal transport module or a droid which we can call on to turn up and transport us to our destinations. 

I’m now a third generation EV (electric vehicle) driver and I can see on the car screen where my nearest charging point is, dynamically updated and this insight is getting better all the time.

My car already helps me stay in the lines, sat nav helps me avoid congestion. Cars of the future will be more of a communications hub – where passengers can sit back and enjoy entertainment and gaming on-the-go.

2. Virtual reality and augmented reality

Although I might be sitting on the number 75 bus into the city centre, while I am on my way in the future, with Augmented Reality (AR), through glasses or a headset, if I fancy travelling to somewhere different I can have a completely different experience instead of staring out of the window. This technology needs good bandwidth and lower latency which only 5G will be able to deliver.

3. At home

I don’t think there will be as much change in the home as out of it. Partly because although there will be more connected devices we will be less involved in their usage and they will more likely be connected to fibre optic/home broadband.

However, advancing technology through IoT (internet-of-things connected devices) will mean big changes.

4. Work

While we now live in a world where most meetings are online; in the future with 5G you will be able to do this from anywhere making work patterns more flexible. This is great but also a challenge in a world where the ‘always on’ mentality can be damaging to health.

However, used in the right way tech can be enabling. The sole trader or SME owner will have more options to use global virtual or digital personal assistants to take orders round the clock through cloud technology. 5G will change our work places and patterns in more ways than we know yet with new innovations emerging all the time.

5. Manufacturing

5G will give us extra capability in a number of sectors. Engineers on site to fix issues can instantaneously use Google Glasses, or similar technology, to contact control hubs and diagnostics teams in real time to solve issues.

Technology usage in agriculture (agritech) can help with crop management to control infestations potentially reducing food shortage and wastage around the world.

The prospect of 5G

5G and the future networks are exciting for me. The technology will enable us as a species to be more creative and used in the right way, give us the power to solve many current world problems and ultimately, save lives. 

5G is an enabler for the future. Whatever the future is, it’s going to be 5G.

Andy Hawkins

Andy Hawkins is the chief purpose officer iTech4Good and founder of Business On Purpose. Find out more about him here and connect with him on LinkedIn

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