5G: From promise to reality

NB Team

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We’ve all read how 5G is set to change everything all over again. Well guess what? It’s already starting to do so.

Well, isn’t it ironic… 5G launches around the globe and we’re told to stay indoors for an entire year. While our fixed-line connections have been getting hammered with countless video calls and Fortnite marathons, those irrepressible mobile geniuses have been busy getting the next-gen of network infrastructure ready for our eventual release. 

It’s not so long ago that the most you could expect from a smartphone was a 480p YouTube video served with a hefty side of buffering, especially if you were surrounded by other phone users. The arrival of 4G changed all that, bringing mobile networks up to speed with the potential of smartphone hardware. How many people around the globe found love on a dating app over the past decade? And does anyone still have a physical map in the back of the car? Well buckle up, because 5G is already doing it all over again. OK, it might be a few years until developers fulfil the potential of Gigabit speeds (how the tables have turned), but there are some amazing things already happening… 

  1. Play together outside 
    Back in 2016, Niantic’s Pokémon Go proved the potential of AR gaming, and now the speed and low latency of 5G is enabling virtual worlds that are far more personalised, detailed and dynamic. The developer recently unveiled Codename: Urban Legends, which includes features that have only been possible since the advent of 5G. Now, several players can get together and simultaneously interact with the same AR creatures on different mobile devices – potentially a defining moment for multiplayer gaming.
  2. Mobile, home 
    The Coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way we work, putting a greater emphasis on fast and reliable connectivity at home. As a nation, we have traditionally relied on fixed-line connections, but with portable Gigabit speeds, no landlines and no need to wait for an engineer, the benefits of a 5G router are clear. Some providers such as BT are also starting to roll out truly converged home solutions such as Hybrid Connect, which backs up a fixed line with a mobile connection to provide ‘unbreakable internet’. 
  3. Future spectator 
    The power of 5G is enabling broadcasters to deliver new, data-intensive mobile features and enhanced viewing experiences. The NFL recently launched its 5G SuperStadium app, giving American Football fans access to real-time stats, multiple camera angles on the field and AR interactives. And with 5G also delivering vastly increased network capacity, these new features can be enjoyed simultaneously by thousands of people watching live (when stadiums open again, at least). 
  4. Netflix for gaming (for real this time) 
    While cloud gaming platforms aren’t new, the arrival of 5G has unlocked the possibility of seamless next-gen gaming experiences on the go. For example, Xbox offers a Game Pass subscription that includes the option to stream hundreds of console-quality games directly from the cloud to a smartphone over a mobile network. With 5G’s bandwidth and low latency, plus the processing power of the cloud, 2021 will be an exciting new chapter for kick-ass gaming without the need for a console or PC. 
  5. Attack of the drones 
    The imminent arrival of 5G sky corridors – airspace covered by the latest mobile connectivity – is going to be transformative. With faster, more secure and more reliable connections, 5G networks will ensure drones can avoid collisions and react faster, even beyond line-of-sight from the control centre. This summer, Project XCelerate – a consortium of UK government-backed businesses – will establish a commercial drone corridor in open and unrestricted airspace south of Reading, with the aim of demonstrating use cases across healthcare, emergency services and deliveries. It might not be too long until there’s a piping hot pizza landing in your back garden. 

This article features in our second instalment of Recharged brought to you by Nelson Bostock and our sister agency, Fever. To download the full copy of our exclusive magazine all about the new (ab)normal in consumer tech comms – click here.

Joe Dawes, Associate Director, Nelson Bostock UNLIMITED