It’s still too early to experience the real benefits of 5G. Current 5G deployments are limited to just a few neighborhoods in the largest cities, and even there it’s difficult to find a stable 5G signal. None of the truly transformative changes in tech thanks to 5G are possible with such spotty coverage.
You won’t be waiting too long. The major wireless carriers all expect to have a sizeable number of customers on 5G networks by 2025, and the tech industry is already developing next-generation technologies to take advantage of an always-on, super high-speed connection.
What will this future look like? We spoke with close to a dozen futurists and technology entrepreneurs to get their predictions on what 5G will look like in the year 2025. From smart cities to smarter homes, to significant advances in artificial intelligence — a lot is about to change.
Our cars will become smarter, as they’ll be able to ‘talk’ with one another and these traffic management systems at large. Futurist Sylvain Rochon goes even further, predicting 5G might make owning a car unnecessary.
“Expect by 2025 to have fewer ‘cars’ on our city roads,” he told Digital Trends. “Adoption of self-driving vehicles, 5G, robot taxis, and a growing gig economy will combine to change how we see cars.”
The cars that do remain on the road will have more sensors than ever. These sensors won’t just help you park, stay in your lane, or avoid accidents anymore. With 5G, they’ll be interconnected. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities which will all make driving safer, quicker, and less stressful.
Smarter cities and smarter homes
Traffic congestion is worsening as cities grow. Statistics show that average commute time continues to increase, and will continue with more cars on the road. There is a significant need for traffic management, according to experts.
“Robust 5G services may soon enable decidedly futuristic-sounding applications,” BroadbandNow consumer policy expert, Tyler Cooper, said. “A.I.-assisted traffic management systems and just-in-time communications will transform the way we move within our cities.”
Such a system could theoretically make traffic jams a thing of the past.
Such a system could theoretically make traffic jams a thing of the past. Artificial intelligence would help manage traffic on a regional level. 5G and A.I.-enabled traffic control together could proactively adjust speeds on highways to keep cars moving or automatically divert traffic around incidents. Cars entering the road could be metered, helping to control traffic flow.
Going further, smart power grids will improve energy efficiencies, and improved security systems will keep us safer than ever before.
“The bandwidth requirements for these applications are far too high for existing network infrastructure, but small cell technologies may soon enable a veritable world of possibilities,” Cooper said.
Smart homes will also get better. Bandwidth has always been an issue here, Tuya Smart CEO Alex Yang told Digital Trends.
“By addressing the coverage issues that happen with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other communications technologies, 5G allows more devices to go online,” he said.
Faster speeds on your phone
4G’s fast data speeds jump-started the app revolution. It’s still not fast enough to handle truly data-intensive applications, like A.I. and real-time monitoring, though. The amount of data these applications need to transfer back and forth would overwhelm current cellular networks. Data storage expert, David Friend, quantified those bandwidth needs.
“5G will soon add another dimension to the data tsunami as 250 times the number of [current] connected devices start sending data over wireless networks,” Friend, CEO of Wasabi Technologies, told Digital Trends.
He points to the tech-heavy Tesla as an example of this drastically higher need for data throughput.
“[It’s] brimming with cameras and sensors, and 5G will allow that data to be uploaded to the cloud to build a highly-detailed picture of every road,” he said.
As more manufacturers do the same, 5G will allow these connected cars to upload and download information quickly without tying up the network. But it’s not just connected cars that benefit: think of what you could do on a smartphone with multi-gigabit speeds.
“By 2025, 5G networks will strengthen mobile connectivity and radically improve the smartphone experience for billions of mobile devices,” Motorola Product Vice President, Dan Dery, told Digital Trends. “5G will deliver lower latency, higher bandwidth, faster data sharing, and speeds up to 10 times faster than existing wireless technology.”.
Dery sees uninterrupted 4K live streaming, video chatting, and lag-free gaming and virtual reality experiences as the most significant things to look for as 5G takes hold.
Breakthroughs in communication
The changes to our daily lives won’t be limited to how we move. 5G will also transform the way we communicate, ushering in an “era of mass connectivity,” according to AT&T Business’ Chief Marketing Officer, Mo Katibeh.
“Virtually everything will be connected,” Katibeh said. “Sensors will be smaller. AR/VR glasses – even contact lenses – will be commonplace, creating a truly ‘phygital’ world, where the physical and digital are efficiently interconnected. You’ll no longer type questions into your smartphone because your personal virtual assistant will be in your ear at all times.”
The changes to our daily lives won’t be limited to how we move. 5G will also transform the way we communicate.
Infovista’s Strategy Vice President, Adrian Jakobsson, calls that predictive communication.
“Imagine knowing what needs to communicate and how it needs to happen and being prepared for it before you realize it yourself,” Jakobsson said. “This can be achieved through deep learning of our behavior and how we interact with people and things around us. For this, you need complete and issue-free communication with a massive number of ‘things’ and in real-time.”
Digital privacy expert Ray Walsh believes that real-time telepresence and virtual and augmented reality will become more commonplace by 2025.
“Rather than chatting on apps, consumers will be able to interface directly via augmented reality devices,” Walsh said. “In such an environment, remote telepresence will become common, and consumers will be able to engage in socializing, meeting strangers in online virtual reality environments, or inviting friends to sit in their lounge with them without leaving their home.”
An augmented reality future
Augmented reality is hot at the moment, with companies prioritizing the development of AR-enabled services in a wide variety of fields. However, these AR worlds are limited and basic, because the heavy lifting of those worlds are powered by the device itself.
5G will change that. The technology can move massive amounts of data back in forth in seconds, enabling real-time management of the experience remotely on systems with a whole lot more computing power.
“Small cameras will be embedded in everything, from your clothes to your doorbell to your car, distributed and connected,” Light Company CEO, Dave Grannan, told Digital Trends. “Data from these cameras will be combined to create incredible high-resolution 3D images, enabled by the speed and latency of 5G networks.”
All this information would be processed by A.I. on the backend helping autonomous systems to “learn” from real-world experience, but you wouldn’t realize it. Instead of waiting for a software update, the systems making the decisions are continuously learning the most efficient ways to handle real-world situations.
5G for health care
Health care is a big winner in a 5G-enabled world, according to IBM General Manager Steve Canepa.
“5G will make it possible for surgeons to operate remote robotic surgery appliances, and conduct secure remote video-enabled patient interactions,” Canepa said.
Canepa sees 5G as a significant development in medicine that will only increase access.
“It has the potential to eliminate massive barriers and improve access to quality health care around the globe.”
5G is the catalyst
Something that all of our experts did agree on is that 5G would be a catalyst for dramatic change in the tech industry. We have the capability to do big things with ‘big data,’ but no real efficient way to mobilize it, so to speak.
“With the exponential growth in web-connected devices, consumers will be looking forward to a ubiquitous network of connected devices and people,” Dr. Babak Beheshti, dean of the New York Institute of Technology’s College of Engineering and Computing Sciences, said.
“The robust, reliable and high-speed connectivity [of 5G] will give the consumer the ability to manage their entertainment, state of their household or automobile, monitor health and well-being of loved ones, regardless of where one is.”
That’s a future to get excited about.