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The term "5G" has been hard to avoid in recent months. Short for "fifth generation new radio" (5G NR), it's been steadily rolling out across the globe, offering much faster data connectivity to mobile devices than 4G. It promises to enable more real-time interactions, and the internet of things (IoT) to properly take off.
But looking past the speed and tech jargon, what's it actually for? We look at five things you'll be able to do, that you couldn't (so easily) before.
Let’s start with the most noticeable impact: connectivity speed through low latency. "Low latency" just means the lag, or time spent waiting for something to happen.
With 5G, latency could become as low as a millisecond. So when you press a button, an app will do what you want it to do straight away, with fewer interruptions. For you, that means smoother gaming, fewer jumpy FaceTime calls in the park and more episodes of Game of Thrones on your commute.
In fact, speeds are already rising over 1 Gigabyte per second (Gbps), so you'll be able to download entire movies in the highest quality in only 90 seconds.
Paying on the go will be easier: good for you, good for retailers.
Experts say that soon, 5G will help you buy big-ticket items, like cars, more easily from your smartphone. How? It removes cumbersome retail procedures, by enabling parallel processes and real-time checks in real time. In general, 5G is expected to take many more digital purchases away from the big screens and onto mobile devices like a watches, phones, cars and wearables.
Critically, 5G will also strengthen online security. Banks will know much faster where you made a payment, how much it was for, and who you made it to. It will also reduce mistakes in detecting fraud through enhanced biometric authentication (fingerprint and retina scanning), fast, automated security updates and better cybersecurity prevention.
HERE plays a piece in the puzzle too. We give retailers accurate, and secure positioning information, so they can better understand customer behavior, and improve their experience by offering discounts when they're near the store. All this is much easier to realize on a fast 5G network.
Entertainment services like Netflix were designed to work at the speed of your home broadband. 5G gives these companies a chance to give you more. As well as improving your streaming quality, they can start offering you immersive experiences like virtual and augmented sports viewing – and even realistic shopping experiences – from your couch.
Not to mention the fact that a 5G hub could even make people think twice about needing broadband in the first place.
5G is driving a more autonomous world.
Perhaps the most exciting prospect, however, is that super-low latency can make it much easier to enable connected and self-driving cars. As autonomous cars become increasingly common, fast 5G will help them to talk to each other, and to the road network, in real time – which, in turn, will improve performance and safety.
And with more companies, like HERE, now able to offer advanced driver assistance and full self-driving systems, drivers will benefit from better platforms, technology and services for their autonomous vehicles.
So 5G is about more than just fast data flow. It's about the things you can suddenly do because of this. And it's about the innovations companies like us, with a faster IoT network, will now be able to offer. We're excited about its arrival: do you feel the same?
How will 5G affect your business? Read how 5G will transform 20 industries, including transportation, retail and manufacturing.