- The rollout of 5G will affect a broad range of industries, including healthcare, AR, and retail.
- Execs from Snapchat, Verizon, and other top firms spoke to Insider about 5G’s potential effects.
- They shared their predictions for how the technology will positively impact their companies.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Even though it is still in the early stages, much attention has been focused on how 5G services will effectively power innovation and increase performance, across a broad range of industries.
Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all offer 5G coverage across the US, and last October, Apple rolled out a lineup of iPhone 12 models, all of which will be compatible with 5G.
The technology follows 4G LTE, which is used for streaming and other data-heavy activities, as well as driving Verizon’s national network, for example. 5G networks are anticipated to be 10 times faster than 4G LTE, as Insider previously reported.
Widespread implementation of 5G is not expected until about 2025 in many developed economies, however, according to a PWC report.
Insider spoke to experts in the healthcare, transportation, augmented reality, and retail industries to see how they will be able to leverage this technology.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of telehealth services in an age where social-distancing measures dominate our lives. Electronic interaction between doctors and patients has been relied upon as people follow stay-at-home orders.
With the implementation of 5G, e-health experts and entrepreneurs are increasingly seeing how the new technology has the potential to advance healthcare to the next level. For example, by accelerating the use of augmented-reality applications and robotics to assist surgeons in complex surgical procedures.
Oliver Kharraz is the chief executive and founder of ZocDoc, a New York-based service that helps people book medical appointments. Kharraz said in an interview with Insider: “Investments in infrastructure, including 5G, will ensure that everyone has seamless access to telehealth and faster access to healthcare overall.”
For Kharraz, making a doctor’s appointment shouldn’t require perseverance. It should be a speedy, convenient process, he said, which is a distinct advantage of 5G, due to its super-short latency.
When asked what problems 5G can solve in telehealth, Kharraz said there are three important ways the technology can resolve issues in telehealth: “Bringing consistency to the experience, offering efficiencies, and enabling more and better relationships.”
He said: “Right now, a patient located in an area with spotty connectivity may have to explain a symptom to their provider two or three times and wait through a screen freeze for answers to their questions; that’s not a great experience. In urban areas, many of us take that connectivity for granted but it’s not the reality everywhere.
The proliferation of 5G will introduce additional efficiencies that will allow providers to minimize their efforts on administrative processes, Kharraz added. “For instance, in areas with good online access, appointments can be made online versus on the phone and documents can easily be shared on a patient portal versus a fax machine.”
5G is poised to revolutionize the transportation industry in two categories – protection and personalization – according to Verizon’s new business incubation VP, Elise Neel.
By protection, Neel refers to the ways in which 5G can drastically improve road safety. Verizon’s partnerships with companies like HERE, a location data and technology platform, demonstrate the possibilities of combining the power of 5G Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) with location intelligence.
Neel said: “One application that was developed leverages HERE’s HD Live Map and HERE’s proprietary Live Sense computer vision technology to create a Vehicle to Network (V2N) communication system that identifies vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, and barriers from a vehicle-mounted smartphone.”
The data is then sent in real-time to Verizon’s 5G MEC network, where AI predicts likely travel paths and warns vehicles of impending potential collisions, Neel said.
5G will also enable innovations that help cut congestion by monitoring and controlling traffic lights; alerting drivers of delays; and providing smart parking solutions, according to Neel. She said this will allow cities to personally accommodate individual needs.
Neel believes 5G is paving the way for an array of innovations that will reshape cities, businesses, and society as a whole. “These advances are merging the physical, digital, and biological worlds in ways that create both huge promise and potential disruption,” she said.
Advanced technology through 5G will also enable new innovations in manufacturing.
As information technology and operational technology budgets continue to converge, 5G will assist in the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as factories and systems become more automated and autonomous.
Neel cites the example case of autonomous mobile robots and MEC, which will create new opportunities to upskill workers and facilitate a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines.
Transparent and real-time data sharing can also improve response times, and enable predictive maintenance and inventory analyses, all powered by 5G.
4. Augmented reality and artificial intelligence
The future of AR and AI depends on the reliability of 5G networks.
Carolina Arguelles Navas, head of AR product strategy at Snapchat, told Insider about the importance of 5G technology for Snapchat since it enables them to create augmented-reality experiences that far surpass anything they were able to do before.
She said: “For example, our famous AR Lenses are usually around 4mb in file size. With 5G, we’re able to deliver Lenses that are around 50mb in file size! It makes a huge difference in the quality, detail, and amount of content that we can pack into each individual Lens, and allows us to deliver these tech-intensive experiences seamlessly to Snapchatters.”
Last year, Snapchat put 5G to the test with the world’s first 5G Landmarker Lens experience, built in partnership with Verizon. Together with Verizon and the band Black Pumas, they transformed the New York public library into an AR concert venue.
“Snapchatters on Verizon’s 5G network could unlock an AR experience at the Library, where Black Pumas’ lead singer Eric Burton put on a psychedelic performance of their hit song ‘Colors’ as a Bitmoji-style avatar.
Arguelles Navas said the company was excited to “continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible as 5G networks become more widely available.”
When 5G is distributed to enough people, retail operations stand to benefit from incorporating the technology into their business. The technology will be useful for experiences like VR and AR, which retailers can use to enhance their in-store experience, according to Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, an analytics and consulting company.
“From an operational point of view, 5G can be used internally to allow workers to connect to store and company networks remotely via portable devices,” he said.
The potential to further elevate digital communication comes at a time when engaging with consumers through technology has become essential as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
Saunders added: “5G will allow retailers to deliver more information to consumers, which will improve customer service. There are many back-end connectivity issues, such as connecting remote sites and warehouses to the retail ecosystem that it could help with.”