August 30, 2019

By now you’ve probably heard about 5G and how it is poised to change the world. The excitement around the technology is hitting  a fever pitch as a multitude of 5G-related announcements continue to be made regarding deployment cities, offerings and products.

You are not alone if you’re unclear about what 5G is and why it’s so important, though.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of cellular network technologies and standards that defines the next era of mobile and wireless communication.

Babak Beheshti, IEEE Senior Member and Dean of the College of Engineering and Computing Sciences at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) breaks it down for us:

“First generation systems brought us mobile voice telephony, second generation systems enabled text messaging; 3G gifted us internet access and 4G systems, which we’re currently utilizing, enabled reliable high-speed data transfer capabilities – the fourth generation of wireless technologies enabled the rise of smartphones.”

While 5G deployment is in its infancy, it’s easy to see why Beheshti and others are excited about the technology’s capabilities.

Why is 5G Important?

“5G technologies are designed to be high speed and low latency – these two characteristics enable the near real-time transfer of data between two or multiple points,” said Beheshti.

5G has the potential to be a revolutionary force in transforming the technology landscape, impacting how we live, play, work, and more, by enabling technologies that are inherently bandwidth-hungry, such as autonomous vehicles, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies, and the Internet of Things (IoT. )Furthermore, 5G promises to significantly augment technologies that are already enabled by 4G such as online wireless gaming, video streaming services, smartphones, and more.

With 5G, our tech – all of it – has the potential to operate more quickly, seamlessly, and, in general, efficiently.

5G’s Impact on the Workplace

The ways 5G will impact the workplace of tomorrow vary depending on industry and business sector, but will be dramatic. to Beheshti, these are the top five ways 5G is poised to transform the workplace and optimize business:

  1. Telepresence – Improved reliability will enable AR to become a bona fide means of connecting remotely. With minimal glitches, workers will be able to join meetings from remote locations in order to robustly interact with other participants, with an improved sense of realism as compared to today’s web-based meetings.
  2. Seamless Network Access – 5G’s ability to integrate heterogeneous network technologies coupled with its high data rate will enablein the consolidation of enterprise networks, empowering all workers in an organization to access resources seamlessly regardless of location.
  3. Efficient Enterprise Decision Making – Real-time data on operations sourced from various locations will empower enterprise to more effectively make strategic decisions. 
  4. Concurrent Manufacturing – Factories will benefit from sensors and enterprise IoT-supported devices that enable the coordination of complex systems across multiple physical locations, including other plants, effectively elevating storage, inventory bloat and resource usage disparity at the organizational level while simultaneously optimizing productivity.
  5. HD Video Links – High-speed data rates will enable HD video links between multiple locations, empowering AR to augment remote capabilities and applications.

IEEE Member Marcelo Zuffo, who is also a Professor at the University of Sao Paulo’s Polytechnical School, also pointed to how 5G will enable Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies to take hold in organizations.  “5G-supported smartphones will be much more powerful in terms of processing capabilities, thus enabling employees to work off of their own devices more efficiently than ever before.”

IEEE and the Future of 5G

As the largest technical professional organization in the world, IEEE has played an influential role in the development and introduction of new fundamental technologies that contribute to 5G.

In 2016 IEEE Future Directions launched the IEEE Future Networks Initiative, which is focused on supporting the development and deployment of 5G and the great potential it enables, while simultaneously envisioning the landscape of connectivity and applications beyond 5G.

Recognizing that networking is larger than a single technology, standard, organization, or region, IEEE Future Networks is committed to gathering the world’s researchers, scientists, engineers, and policymakers from industry, academia, and governments to solve the challenges and reveal the opportunities associated with current and future networks, including 5G.