By Dr. Kandis Y. Wyatt, PMP
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics
Most people have heard about the transition to 5G, but many don’t understand the full potential of this technological advancement. 5G, which stands for fifth generation communications, is the successor of 4G communications and was launched in 2019. While 5G is often associated with cellphone technology, it’s more than just advancements in cellular services.
The transformation to 5G is partly dependent on data transformation and data sharing on an exponential scale, which has launched the digital technology movement. Digital technology through data sharing can enable people to monitor and understand 5G. 5G includes providing direct new strategies in achieving a more sustainable future for digital technology. In addition, 5G is significantly faster, more efficient, and has a greater geographic reach.
History of Digital Technology
All digital technology is based on electromagnetic radiation, or the propagation of protons through space. The technology began when 1G networks were developed in the 1980s. These networks used analog systems and were mainly limited to voice calls and voicemail messages. 2G phones could make phone calls, send text messages and send pictures. 3G phones could access the internet, so you could communicate via email, in addition to voice calls and text. 4G technology is found on a majority of cellphones today, and it allows more data exchange through apps and video streaming.
Now, 5G has the potential to revolutionize every aspect of human existence. Imagine a world of advanced cellphone technology, wireless internet, self-driving cars, remote robotic surgery and more. These advancements can only become a reality with advanced mobile technology. 5G is more than just a greater connection among cellphone devices. Greater connection, greater speeds, and greater mobility will revolutionize the way we operate, conduct business, and interact with others.
There are both challenges and benefits of the 5G network from a global perspective. Many organizations have identified the key challenges of 5G deployment, such as providing 1,000 times wireless capacity as compared to previous 4G technology, more diversified service capacity, a 90% energy savings, reducing the average service creation time, and creating a safe and reliable internet for everyone.
As a result, 5G focuses more on software than hardware. By enabling all users to have the same software, uniform data collection and transfer platforms are created through cloud-based technologies, automated business processes, and virtualization. Instead of having to buy a totally new piece of hardware every time there is an upgrade, network administrators can use 5G technology to update network functionality based on users and devices.
However, 5G and digital transformation have drawbacks. First is the ability to reach all consumers. This technology has challenges passing through extremely dense objects, such as walls, buildings and mountains.
As a result, 5G coverage is limited and depends on nodes to distribute the system and redistribute the signal. So, if there are no nodes in a particular location, there is no uniform ecosystem, which limits the current system in terms of geographic mobility. Therefore, the key to transmission is coverage, and advancements are focusing on new transmission technology. One key technology is carrier aggregation, where multiple frequency blocks (called component carriers) are assigned to the same user.
Conspiracy theories are not new in the data transformation world. For example, Y2K was a big misconception. There was misinformation that computer systems that used two-digit and not four-digit years would create global errors in banking, airline travel, technology, and commerce, which drove stock markets into a frenzy. People thought the world would end as we know it, and it was later proven that the claims were baseless because the technology could be fixed with a simple programming adjustment.
Conspiracy theories have also arisen about 5G and the digital transformation. These misconceptions—ranging from 5G causing illness in people to government espionage—have been dispelled, but likely slowed progress.
The Digital Transformation Ecosystem
While there are many misconceptions and conspiracy theories about 5G and the digital transformation, the advancements are revolutionary and can affect everyone. Digital transformation can be considered its own entity or ecosystem with unique parts.
The United Nations has listed digital transformation as one of the necessities for a future integrated society. It’s important to investigate the intersectionality of decent work and economic growth, climate action, sustainable cities and communities, and good health and well-being, according to the United Nations sustainability goals:
- Decent work and economic growth considers the environment as it expands and is directly related to the digital transformation through sustained and inclusive economic growth that contributes to improved livelihoods for people around the world. This means creating sustained economic growth through equitable living standards and employment.
- Climate action addresses the digital transformation to ensure that national economies positively affect lives through environmental sustainability programs, thereby reducing long term cost to people, communities and countries.
- Sustainable cities and communities can use the digital transformation to become independent and self-sustaining. This means spurring economic growth while simultaneously decreasing carbon emissions. The digital transformation can address these issues by reducing inadequate and overburdened infrastructure and services and building a network that promotes equal access and usage.
- And last, but not least, the digital transformation can promote good health and well-being by focusing on providing equal access and more efficient access to health systems, through mobile services such as telehealth medicine.
Digital transformation requires a solid network and robust computing tools. Digital transformation can produce increased customer satisfaction, increased profits and increased productivity.
According to Altimeter’s 2018 State of Digital Transformation survey, digital transformation is maturing into an enterprise-wide movement. Some of the drivers of this movement include growth opportunities (51%), increased competitive pressure (41%) and escalating regulatory standards (38%).
The goal of 5G is to provide data at a lower cost to more people in more places. Simply put, 5G will revolutionize the digital and data transformation era by connecting people, places, and things to machines, objects, and devices. This digital transformation has the capability to revolutionize lives, provide equality through reliable and sustained information access, and save lives through timely delivery of information.