Original article featured in ReadWrite.
Sprint’s recent launch of its 5G network in Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas; Houston; and Atlanta offers consumers and entrepreneurs a glimpse into the future. As rapid download speeds and seamless connectivity take hold in cities around the world, tech entrepreneurs will have more opportunities than ever before to make an impact. With 11.5 million people having access to Sprint’s network already, imagine what will be possible as that number grows.
5G will unlock new opportunities in every space. The healthcare, transportation, agriculture, and manufacturing industries will all be significantly more capable of innovation and growth as these networks take shape.
Data on demand
We all know the frustration that comes from waiting for an app to load, a video to buffer, or an email to send. With an instant connection, 5G will not only eliminate these issues but also radically transform user experiences in several ways.
Content streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube will benefit from faster download speeds. And so will social networks such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, which all use immense amounts of data to load images, video, and chat messages. But consumer-facing mobile apps are just the tip of the iceberg.
The arrival of 5G will drive significant progress in emerging technology.
Think of the power this kind of connectivity can give to things like autonomous vehicles, for instance. Driverless cars have to collect vast amounts of information, process it locally, and send it to the cloud. That data then goes back to the vehicle and enables it to make decisions. Thanks to 5G networks, this process will be nearly instantaneous.
Virtually every connected device will become more reliable and effective because of 5G, too. IoT sensors will be able to process data, send it to the cloud, and act upon it at mind-boggling speeds. In essence, 5G makes the cloud almost instantly accessible and opens countless doors to technological innovation. And it’s increasingly becoming available across the globe.
Emerging opportunities for entrepreneurs
The building blocks of 5G are being put in place in cities all over the world. The U.K. launched its first public high-speed 5G network this spring, and major carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have stateside deployments planned for later this year. In South Korea, the technology made its debut at the Olympic Village. Since then, a 5G network has been launched in Seoul, as well as in cities throughout China and Japan.
As 5G infrastructures become more widespread, more opportunities will open up for developers to leverage their power.
Tech entrepreneurs will be able to make everyday device experiences seamless and create entirely new ones with technologies such as VR and AR, industrial IoT, autonomous vehicles and drones, medical devices, and other connected hardware.
AI and machine learning tools have already transformed multiple industries. But this disruption will pale in comparison to the near future. With unparalleled speeds and even higher amounts of data to leverage, these technologies will generate more profound insights for the people who need them most.
The impact of 5G will be unprecedented.
For entrepreneurs and investors looking to capitalize on it, here are four ways 5G will transform business:
1. Interpersonal communication
Communication drives business. Because consumers and downstream business operators are going to have access to devices that can send and receive data at lighting-fast speeds, they’ll be able to have better phone calls, higher-quality video meetings, and access to chat apps that don’t experience latency.
When Verizon revealed its Moto Z3 phone, which works with the 5G Moto Mod that attaches to a phone, spectators watched it download a 1GB file in 17 seconds, a download speed that should be even faster on its commercial network. Phone usage and commercial network usage is just one example of the way 5G technology will drive stronger, more seamless business communications. Further, applications like these will directly impact and generate profits.
2. Expanded remote work opportunities
Remote work has already become standard practice at many businesses. With the advent of 5G, it’ll be possible for even more tasks to be accomplished remotely. At the Mobile World Congress, for example, a Spanish surgeon performed an operation from miles away with the help of a connected robotics kit.
However, remote healthcare is just one example of the power of connectivity. Low-latency, high-frequency data transfers will make engineering and many other types of highly skilled work possible from anywhere with a decent connection.
3. Tools driving innovation
Many companies already use innovation labs to explore applications of emerging technologies. Soon, there will be a proliferation of devices and tools specifically designed to cultivate growth with 5G. Case in point: Verizon’s 5G Labs in New York and four other cities show businesses and consumers what’s possible with 5G while also providing startups and entrepreneurs with mentorship and advisory services as they learn to work with it.
Companies will also soon offer DIY kits that enable anyone to build 5G solutions using components already available to them. For developers, these will present limitless opportunities. Organizations like MathWorks, for example, are already launching tools designed to help reduce learning and development time by giving developers a workflow to model after and use to test 5G systems for themselves.
4. Venture capital interest
Venture capital money is flowing into 5G enterprises in Silicon Valley, and those investments will continue to increase exponentially shortly. As just one example, the recent partnership established between Japanese telecom company KDDI and VC firm Global Brain Corp. will fund 5G infrastructure development.
The golden age for enterprises focused on 5G or startups that are leveraging it is quickly approaching. As the marketplace continues to grow with the infrastructure and as the necessary hardware components for building with 5G tools become more ubiquitous, startups will have unimaginable opportunities to transform the world as we know it.
One thing is certain: Nothing about 5G is moving slowly, and the race to harness the technology it makes possible won’t either.
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