The 5G Revolution is a Game Changer!

5G will set the stage for various groundbreaking technologies as it will enable a level of connectivity considerably enhanced than what we have today.  It is akin to comparing the network of roads that existed in the 1800’s to what we have today.  Sure, you could get from point A to B in the 1800’s but it took a while and wasn’t always very direct.   The step to where we are today took considerable infrastructure investment which is also what is taking place with 5G.  5G will require a massive number of mini-cell towers, backhaul network fiber optic cable, additional hardware, more fiber optic amplifiers, etc.  We will also need the associated devices that can connect to the network as well as 5G is not backward compatible with existing devices(they will work with 4G initially).  Yes – you will have to buy a new phone/tablet/device to get 5G.  The infrastructure cost has been estimated to be north of $1T – just in the US- and the ancillary costs will be some multiple of that number.  The global spend is staggering but it is happening.

An example of what 5G will bring is the advancement of driverless vehicles.  The computing power that is required to be on the car to absorb all the information from the various sensors such as Lidar sensors(light detection and ranging -kind of like radar with light but much cooler), crunch through the data and provide the vehicle with guidance on how to move forward is considerable.  To have this computing power physically in the car will be expensive, add weight, and take up space.  How much is up for debate but it will clearly impact these areas.  What if the car could transmit the data to the cloud, have it analyzed, and then send back instructions to the vehicle?  5G has the promise to make this happen which will reduce the costs associated with driverless vehicles.   Coverage is the key though as localized 5G in urban areas only will make this vision impossible on a broad scale.  It has to be widespread in all areas to make the technology available to the masses.  When – yes when rather than if! – this happens, new applications will abound. 

This is similar to the changes that occurred when the internet came on the scene.  That transition prompted massive investment as well as bandwidth needed to grow to deal with the ever-increasing usage of the internet.   Huge infrastructure investments have been ongoing for 20+ years with massive amounts of fiber optic cables, fiber optic amplifiers, data centers, etc added to the communications grid.  The internet has fundamentally changed our lives – many expect 5G, in time, will be another inflection point in how we live our lives.   Chris Emslie, CEO of Fibercore, predicts that 5G is a “game changer of a generation as it creates the connectivity required for the Internet of Things (IoT).  It will enable applications and technologies that we can’t even imagine.  Behind many of those applications and technologies will be the need for specialty optical fiber which has been changing the world since its creation at the end of the 1970’s.”