How would you like a download speed of 1TB per second on your laptop? Sound good? How about 1TB per second on your smartphone? You might only have just caught up to 4G, but the digital world are already preparing themselves for the advent of 5G in the next few years.

5G would give the ability to download full-length, HD movies onto a device in a matter of seconds, enjoy video chats without any of the fuzzy vagueness they currently have and of course download web pages instantly. So what else does 5G have in store?

The network of physical things

Whilst you might see nothing wrong with waiting a minute for a website to appear (patience is, after all, a virtue), researchers know that 5G is soon going to be a necessity, as we seek to meet the ever-increasing demand for mobile data as well as provide for the Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices. The number of such devices is increasing at an exponential rate, driven by a growing range of applications and supported by reduced modem costs. Coverage for cellular machine-type communication (MTC) will need to be extended due to new cellular network functionality, enabling support of IoT applications in more remote locations, as well as further into buildings and underground locations.

By 2020, when 5G will come online globally, some 50 billion “things” will be connected. Think of self-driving cars that have capabilities to communicate with traffic lights, smart city sensor systems, savvy home appliances, industrial automation systems, connected health innovations, personal drones, robots and more. Our current networks will not go away, instead they will funnel into 5G, updating along with other devices and technologies.

How will 5G affect the Internet of Things?

In a nutshell, faster service, less latency and more devices connected across the globe. While you’ll still need a strong provider and robust network, devices will learn to perform certain actions such as syncing or connecting automatically, and with less time between cause and effect. Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Director of 5GIC and Institute of Communication Systems at the University of Surrey comments, “5G will intelligently understand the demand of users in real time, dynamically allocating resources depending on whether the connected device needed voice or data connectivity.” This will see applications perform bandwidth-heavy tasks and will make better use of all available wireless networks, resulting in ultra-high reliability.

Currently, most of our communications are on a single mode transmission — you search for something, it comes back to you. The 5G network will be inherently flexible, adapting, evolving and growing in response to demand and developments, providing us information in a multi-modal capacity and driving more responsive, interactive engagement.

The shape of things to come

The latest Ericsson Mobility Report (November 2015) tells us that from 2015 to 2021, mobile data traffic is forecast to increase ten-fold and over 150 million 5G subscriptions will be in place by the end of 2021, with the uptake on these subscriptions expected to be faster than for 4G. This new 5G network will consist of a new radio access (NX), an evolved LTE access and an enhanced core network and will provide enhancements in mobile broadband services, opening up a deluge of new industries and verticals. Not only that, but 5G will enable a wider range of uses for the IoT.

What can we expect?

Expect the unexpected! We know that the IoT will increase the connectivity of physical devices, we know that uptake will be beyond anything we’ve seen yet and we know that 5G is set to revolutionise the way in which we all communicate. For businesses, this is going to drive innovation and new technologies which we must be set to embrace. As marketers, it will also provide us with the IoT data that will shape our customer view and provide new methods which we can capture better data and communicate with our clients even better than before.

We have just over four years to prepare for when 5G will begin rolling out to the public and the world will become connected in ways we would never have imagined. Find out more about the IoT by reading our blog ‘Work smarter, not harder using the Internet of Things’ and ‘How the Internet of Things will impact marketing’.