Will 5G really change the world? Is it really Industrial revolution 4.0? Experts weigh in from World Economic Forum


Just like steam, electricity, and silicon drove the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Industrial Revolutions, 5G has the potential to catalyze and drive the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Even though equating 5G to major disruptors such as electricity may seem premature, the impact of the partially-deployed 5G networks provides insight into the benefits to come. With the 2020 World Economic Forum themed, “Stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable world,” experts are chipping-in on the role of 5G and how it will change the world.



Even though the 4G along with the smartphone transformed communications, 5G combined with new and emerging technologies such as IoT, AI, edge computing, and machine learning (ML) is poised to transform not only how we communicate but also how we consume and live. With low-latency, high-speed, ultra-fast response, and other capabilities, 5G has the potential to enable this transformation.

According to a blog by Asa Tamsons, SVP and head of business area technologies at Ericsson, 5G and the internet of things will intersect along with other supporting technologies to drive the digital economy of the future. In terms of sustainability, the adoption of 5G, along with other technologies, will not only improve work safety but also reduce carbon output. This is important because the need to improve workplace safety and reduce emissions “happens simultaneously with the need for increased productivity,” says Tamsons.

The assertion that 5G ‘will change the world’ is also supported by Don Rosenberg, EVP and General Counsel of Qualcomm. In a blog post, Rosenberg highlights that 5G will “serve as a catalyst for business transformation at a global scale.”



From small changes like elimination of cables by operating in the cloud to major changes such as dramatically improved internet speed, there is very little 5G cannot transform for the better. With a fast response of around one millisecond for 5G compared to 50 milliseconds offered by 4G, this will be crucial in enabling various use cases that were unattainable under the 4G network. For one, reduction in time delay by 5G will enable the development of smarter vehicles leading to a “decrease in collisions and injuries on the roads,” according to Tamsons.

By the end of 2025, Tamsons projects that there will be 5 billion cellular IoT connections and over 2.5 billion 5G subscriptions. Based on this projection and the capacity that will be attained by combining 5G and IoT, she concludes that embracing the technologies of Industry 4.0 will not enable optimization of businesses but will also be “crucial to stay alive long term.”

One of the sectors that will be transformed completely is manufacturing. The “faster and more reliable connectivity” offered by 5G will enable industries to “manufacture their products in much smarter ways,” asserts Tamsons. On the other hand, Rosenberg refers to “potential 5G use cases as infinite, or at least only as finite as the frontier of human innovation.” Based on this bold assertion, Rosenberg refrains from restricting 5G to specific use cases opting instead to parallel 4G and 5G in an equation: “if 4G was to Uber, WhatsApp and Waze the way 5G will be to X, solve for X.”

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