5G, or fifth-generation wireless, stands for the most recent iteration of broadband cellular technology already being used in many countries. Not only is 5G the new kid on the block, but it’s expected to pose as much of a disruption as did the first moon landing.
Currently, nations are racing to create the sturdiest test bed for 5G in the hopes of attaining the competitive advantage the United States had with LTE. The idea is that products will be marketed and deployed first in whichever country is better equipped to receive them.
This time, China appears to be winning thanks to its commitment to investing US$400 billion over the next five years. But, will the arrival of 5G truly change our understanding of the world, our limits and how we conceive the future?
When will 5G be available?
The rollout of 5G is happening differently all over the world. While 5G mobile networks are already available and being used in many countries, it is still at the early stages of deployment in many others. Many telecoms started working with 5G networks back in 2019, but current widespread usage is only found in the United States, South Korea, and China.
The idea behind 5G
Before asking ourselves what 5G is, we need to consider connectivity.
Experts at Gartner believe 20 billion devices will be live and connected before 2021, more than double the world population. 5G comparison to regards to the previous mobile network technologies (1G, 2G, 3G and 4G), 5G has the distinction of much more connectivity capabilities. In the long run, this means a great deal of possibilities when it comes to services, developments and experiences – with many different devices and technologies; not only mobile.
Now that people are connected through social media and instant messaging, the newest broadband network looks to expand connections. 5G will power the famous “Internet of Things” (IoT), while increasing download speeds and bandwidths by tenfold.
However, as suggested above, the word “device” doesn’t necessarily mean smartphones, computers or tablets, but rather a range of one-function objects in continuous conversation with one another.
But how fast is 5G?
The short answer? Faster than 4G.
The more specific answer: according to Qualcomm, 5G can reach speeds of up to 20 Gigabits-per-second (Gbps), as well as 100+ Megabits-per-second (Mbps) average data rates. This will obviously cause a big impact in things like download speeds and low latency, but that’s not all. By also delivering more network capacity, 5G is expected to improve the overall user experience – and open the door to other developments in that direction.
People are, for instance, most excited about automated vehicles and telehealth, but 5G doesn’t stop there.
To put it in Deloitte’s words, “5G makes possible the connection and interaction of billions of devices of almost any kind and collection of data from those devices. Indeed, 5G connectivity promises to lead consumers, industries, and governments to new frontiers of productivity and innovation.”
Let’s see what that means for money.
How 5G will disrupt the finance industry
Every day, there are more customers looking to perform an even greater number of monetary transactions, such as remittances. Thus, one of the most anticipated changes for the finance industry is low latency, defined as computer networks optimized for processing a high volume of data. Low latency could make transactions truly instantaneous despite the constant increase in demand.
However, connectivity will be the one 5G functionality to rule them all.
As the finance sector grapples with the inner workings of banking apps and mobile wallets, 5G will open up a breadth of possibilities, awakening dormant objects like wristbands, cards or even pens. These things have the potential to become low-cost access gateways to financial services, which could have a favorable impact in the remittance industry.
Affordable financial devices might grow into a new form of banking, reaching those with limited access to traditional channels and thus fostering financial inclusion. That being said, it will all depend on 5G’s capillarity once it is activated everywhere. Will it truly power every corner of the world, or will 5G remain just another developed-world commodity?