It may still be a few years until the true potential of 5G comes to fruition, but that doesn’t mean folks are just standing still. Countless innovations that were on display at CES 2024 in Las Vegas earlier this month are already capitalizing upon the next-generation technology to make our lives easier.
We’re not just talking about self-driving vehicles, which have long been touted as a perfect application of 5G’s accelerated data transfers, reliable connectivity, ultra-low latency, and enhanced security (or, for that matter, the autonomous excavators that were unveiled at the electronics extravaganza). It will be some time before the 5G infrastructure has been developed enough to make true self-driving transport possible.
Rather, 5G stands to immediately transform the way we receive deliveries, take care of our health, ensure our safety, and even experience the world. A package-hauling drone can carry an object that weighs up to 66 pounds as far as 10 miles. Headphones and mirrors can monitor vital signs, and robots can assist in health care settings. Smart locks can use facial recognition technology to keep your home safe, while intelligent tires can let drivers know when air pressure is low or treads are wearing thin. And we finally have (semi-)fashionable smart glasses that can provide virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences with just one touch.
Many of these innovations are possible because of narrowband connections. These allow devices to attach to mobile networks and exchange quick busts of less than a megabyte of data to the cloud before disconnecting. The same technology is transforming a variety of industries, including logistics, agriculture, and health care, because of the increased availability of real-time data.
And while the products showcased at CES won’t end up in consumers’ hands for quite some time, other narrowband devices are becoming more and more affordable — and accessible — each day. That’s partly why, during one session in Las Vegas, the conversation focused on making additional swathes of spectrum available for the upcoming surge of 5G devices. What exists now is already putting a strain on mobile networks.
In November, the White House launched the National Spectrum Strategy, which aims to identify “more than 2,700 megahertz of airwaves to study for innovative new uses” by the government and private enterprises. Even repurposing a fraction of the spectrum would go a long way in preparing for the endless applications of 5G technology: The GSMA estimated last year that 1.5 billion 5G connections would be made globally by the end of 2023, and that number is projected to rise to 5.3 billion by 2030.
Make no mistake: 5G has not fully arrived. It’s still in its relative infancy. But the innovations on display at CES demonstrated that we’re already making plenty of transformative changes come to life. The potential is enormous. Imagine what we’ll be able to accomplish once we reach 5G’s full power and capability.
As Chief Revenue Officer, Harry Patz, Jr. leads Syniverse’s go-to-market functions, including sales, marketing and brand, go-to-market strategy, and business development. Mr. Patz is a general manager and global business growth executive with 25 years of experience in the technology, telecom, and media industries. He brings extensive experience in strategy, sales and marketing, business development, and operations to his role. Mr. Patz has a proven track record for entering new market sectors, reinventing business models, and transforming organizations.