We live in a rapidly changing world. Over the past decade we have seen technological leaps that were thought of as unimaginable not so long ago. Our phones are now as powerful as computers and continue to evolve as we are able to stream movies and shows, upload and download files, and even place video calls to people all over the world. It may be hard to picture being more connected and having more capabilities at our fingertips—but that is exactly what 5G promises to do.

You may be hearing the buzz about 5G networks and it’s likely you’ll hear more going forward as the roll out of this next-generation wireless standard is expected to be implemented this year. As consumers, we’ll be using more data, more quickly than ever before. As investors, the upgrade presents opportunity on a number of fronts.

What is 5G?

Currently, most devices—cell phones, tablets, computers, etc.—use fourth-generation wireless technology to keep connected, also known as 4G or LTE. 5G is a fifth-generation wireless technology that will allow devices to transmit data at faster speeds and with better coverage in more populated areas. It should mean a much better user experience because of higher bandwidth, longer battery life, and lower latency—the time it takes data to reach the receiver.

Specifically, 5G will provide significantly faster download and upload speeds—up to 20 gigabits per second, which is 100-250 times faster than 4G. To put that into perspective, in the time it currently takes to stream one Netflix movie in HD on 4G, you will be able to stream 400 films in 8k at the same time on 5G. What’s more impressive is 5G’s low-latency rate. Now 4G tends to average about 100-200 milliseconds. While that is fast, 5G will get it down to as little as 1 millisecond.

Earlier this month the long-awaited merger of T-Mobile and Sprint was approved, in part because of the promises of 5G availability. If 5G can live up to its potential it may not only change our phones, but it could fundamentally change our manufacturing, automotive, and healthcare sectors, among many others.

Sectors Impacted

The level of speed 5G produces could enhance emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality, but it can also greatly impact the economy. According to a recent study commissioned by Qualcomm, a global semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company, 5G will contribute to $13.2 trillion in global economic output in 2035. We see a number of industries and sectors impacted by this new digital revolution:

  • Automotive – The automotive industry is ripe for the transformative potential of 5G. The new mobile network could help scale autonomous vehicles, for which latency is especially important. It is anticipated that each autonomous car on the road will generate about as much data as 3,000 people. Self-driving cars will be relying on 5G to pull from a variety of data sources to deal with the world around them. A car will be able to process technical data to learn about road hazards and when to communicate with other cars about when they are braking. This level of connectivity, along with improved navigation systems enhanced by 5G, can help reduce accidents and lower maintance costs.
  • Cellular towers – The shift to 5G will require deploying a significant amount of new equipment that is capable of delivering the stronger signal. Much of this will be done by utilizing existing cellular towers throughout the country, and those who operate and control them are likely to benefit from the upgrade. An increased demand for tower climbers to assemble the equipment needed for the ugrades will also lead to job creation. Additionally, Ericsson, an information communication technology company, expects global mobile-data traffic to grow eight times by 2023. Therefore, an effective network will require strong signals to be carried out across urban and more densely populated areas.
  • Healthcare – 5G should cause a ripple effect throughout healthcare. Challenges have consistently surrounded the tracking and maintaining of medical records. However, 5G’s faster and more reliable network should create efficiencies in remote healthcare, communication within hospitals, and in training. An important piece of the puzzle are wearable devices—such as Fitbits and Apple Watches. The wearable device market is expected to nearly quadruple by 2022, to 430 million units. The ability to use data in real-time allows health providers access to monitor patients and detect problems before they get worse.

One revolutionary change could be the way that many surgeries are performed. With 5G’s reduced latency times between devices, it will allow surgeons to conduct procedures remotely, as if they were right next to the patient. In China, 5G has been used to perform remote surgeries from nearly 2,000 miles away. 5G networks’ improved bandwidth should allow for more accurate and proactive decision making.

5G is an important part to improving broadband access and connectivity. It will extend beyond telecommunications into transportation, manufacturing, and healthcare, among other industries. While the migration to these networks is still in the early stages, we will closely monitor the growth and adoption of 5G as it continues to roll out.

If you are interested in learning more about 5G or ways we can help you achieve your financial goals, give us a call at (617) 342-5600 or email info@jpmarvel.com.