The advent of 5G will lead to ‘industry 5.0’: here’s what you need to know and how your company needs to prepare

(Image credit: Image Credit: Uverse internet)

Next generation internet speeds are just around the corner, with the promise to transform how we engage with and consume content. Pilots for 5G are already underway in the UK with an estimated 1.5 billion people are anticipated to be connected to 5G networks by 2024 according to a 2018 Ericsson report.

What gives 5G an advantage over 4G?

It’s so much more than just quicker download speeds. 5G will support over 250 connected devices per square kilometre, with each device being able to support up to 1GHz in bandwidth. This will see sensors on any device being capable of interconnectivity regardless of wi-fi availability, leading to mobile devices having 24/7 access to bandwidth. It’s the end of the dreaded mobile internet ‘dead spot’.

Perhaps more importantly, the applications 5G will enable are potentially limitless. 5G will enable huge advances in important technology fields - AI, machine learning, IoT and driverless cars to name a few. It’s clear that business and industry will need to brace themselves for a fifth industrial revolution- what the tech community is calling ‘industry 5.0’.

Self driving cars that rely on a constant stream of navigational data will be enabled by 5G to build highly detailed pictures of road networks and creating a connected internet of autonomous vehicles. Put simply, a future where autonomous vehicles are ubiquitous will only be possible with reliable 5G connectivity.

Virtual reality, which relies on massive amounts of data processing, will be able to take advantage of latency decrease and information transfer capability to generate true virtual environments for consumers. 

We’ll also see the advent of new medical devices. Through the additional bandwidth available, devices including pacemakers and insulin pumps will be given smart capabilities to allow them to deliver the appropriate treatment in real time, automating processes that would traditionally require hands on support - far beyond what’s currently possible with 4G.

Much of the data generated from machines and devices is lost because 4G networks do not have the ability to handle the scale at which it is generated. 5G will be able to capture the huge amounts of data generated by these much smarter devices.

Enhanced video resolution is a key driver

As video resolutions have increased from HD to 4K and 8K, the amount of data produced has increased exponentially. Growing adoption of 5G capabilities will enable the installation of 4K resolution cameras requiring only electrical power.

A single one-hour TV show streamed on a 4K video can consume more storage than a typical mid-sized company generates in a year – roughly 360 GBs per hour. Hundreds of millions of smartphone users now have 4K video cameras in their pockets, which at current internet speeds are next to useless. Add to this the outputs of over 300 million surveillance cameras, police body cams, genomic sequencers, satellite imagery, medical imagery, high resolution microscopy (etc.), and you get an idea of how much data we’re looking at.

With 4K cameras generating data at a rate equivalent to 216 terabytes a day (25MB per second), the bandwidth and data storage capabilities required to meet the needs of such cameras will only be possible through 5G adoption.

A report from IDC recently demonstrated that the amount of data stored globally is doubling every year and is expected to reach 163 zettabytes by 2025. As 5G is rolled out across the globe, the huge influx of data means many companies need to rethink how they manage their data storage.

Owing to the rise of video content, data storage is already becoming a huge problem for data centre operators, and with 5G on the horizon, this problem is accelerating across industries.

Is your IT infrastructure set up to cope with Industry 5.0?

As businesses start generating increasing amounts of data, they need a viable solution for managing it to make sure they’re able to effectively act on insights. Most companies now understand that the most successful way to do this is by migrating their data storage to the cloud. What’s perhaps less understood is the impact 5G will have on their cloud strategy.

In the field of cloud storage, we’re used to ‘one stop shop’ solutions offered by the likes of AWS, Azure and Google Cloud - but these providers aren’t always able to meet the demands of businesses. Locked into burdensome contracts that have their fees hiked on a whim, many businesses are waking up to why a multi-cloud strategy might be more beneficial, particularly when their data needs are liable to transform over the coming years.

The multi-cloud refers to the use of a blend of private and public cloud services - it’s an approach that grants companies more flexibility, meaning they can avoid vendor lock-in while scaling their data storage as they need to. In a world where 5G is imminent, this flexibility is going to be increasingly essential. Take a company processing CCTV data, for example. Changing their cameras to 4K streaming could generate ruinously expensive cloud fees unless they’ve prepared accordingly. 

The data centre of the future will no doubt see multiple vendors’ offerings all working together to one standard, surpassing the capabilities of most first generation providers. There are already a handful of solutions available to businesses which support this vision of a multi-cloud approach.

It’s also not financially viable for companies to scale internal data storage capabilities as the amount of data will become less and less manageable. Frankly it makes much more sense for companies to get out of the storage business and focus on the things that really add value to their organisations.

Industry 5.0 is not as far away as we think it is. No longer a distant vision that businesses can afford to overlook, the pace of technological change will quicken as 5G networks take root. The rate of adoption of technologies such as IoT, AI, automation will all accelerate, but this growth will rely on an ability to scale data processing and analysis speedily, and to manage the storage of rapidly increasing volumes of data. Migration to the cloud has the potential to set the fifth industrial revolution in motion.

David Friend, co-founder and CEO, Wasabi Technologies