BACKGROUND IMAGE: iSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
Smartphones and mobile internet access won't be the only use of 5G. For consumers, the acceptability of today's 4G LTE performance, 5G price premiums, data caps and legacy devices could inhibit 5G adoption. But, at the same time, some key 5G benefits could accelerate 5G use cases for businesses.
- One of the first top 5G use cases is fixed wireless -- essentially, replacing broadband internet with a wireless connection. For retail locations, Multi-tenancy situations, remote locations and mobile environments, 5G will make it easier for these branches to stay connected to headquarters. Also, expect to see significant increases in the use of software-defined WAN as fixed wireless rolls out.
- The health sector has significant 5G use cases and opportunities. Today, many medical IT groups deal with surgical equipment that needs to be both connected and air-gapped from their networks for security reasons. Mobile health workers need access in the field during incidents, and critical patient diagnostic data needs to be transmitted between ambulances and emergency rooms. 5G is a great tool for these areas where latency, security and bandwidth are all critical.
- Wherever large numbers of sensors have been deployed -- such as manufacturing, building maintenance, agriculture or transportation -- 5G will enable massive amounts of telemetry and system information to be transmitted back to analytics and operations systems. Consider the Target data breach in 2013. The security breach of a third-party heating, ventilation and air conditioning vendor compromised Target's financial data. In a 5G world, the vendors could manage the sensor-based systems without relying on the host company's network.
- Precision control of remote devices will become more of a reality as 5G's 99.999% availability and massive bandwidth better enable remote monitoring and operation of equipment. 5G enables robotic devices to handle dangerous activities, such as environmental cleanup or unexploded ordnance removal, at a distance with more safety and precision.
- Much has already been said about connected vehicles and their need for 5G based on the huge amount of telemetry that is being transmitted. But, as the world moves closer to semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles, low-latency 5G will be instrumental as real-time interaction and video will be necessary for system-level decision-making.
- Today's metropolitan areas are becoming more connected. But, in the future, 5G use cases will help accelerate the idea of smart cities. Residential services -- such as streetlights, traffic signals and security -- could benefit from 5G. Public safety applications are starting deployment to assist law enforcement. Surveillance cameras and network video recorders will consume significant bandwidth when they support the high resolution needed to identify criminals. Additionally, citywide monitors that triangulate gunshots will demand the lowest latency possible -- an area where 5G excels.
Across the board, consumers and businesses can envision 5G use cases. But, while the consumer benefits are nice to have, the business benefits could be far more critical, driving faster 5G adoption on the business side.