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5G Will Dramatically Speed Up Industries’ Journeys to the Edge

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Many industries are looking to 5G to help move data at lightning speeds from edge devices and networks to more centralized decision-making systems.

Many see 5G wireless technology as the next wave in mobile phone connectivity, ensuring blazing fast downloads and connectivity. This is all good, but while smartphones will be the place where 5G is most visible, much of the technology will be operating behind the scenes as powerful edge networks. 5G will also connect industrial equipment, medical devices, and smart city beacons.

Edge computing is expanding the potential of distributed intelligence across just about all industries, but nowhere is its impact more pronounced than in the manufacturing and healthcare sectors. Now, with edge already in place and expanding, 5G wireless is poised to take things to a whole new level.

See also: 5G Adoption Grows, Despite COVID-19 and U.S. Huawei Ban

That’s the word from a series of reports issued by KPMG, which notes that the manufacturing industry will be the first to significantly unlock the value of 5G, “amounting to around five percent of a typical manufacturer’s annual revenue.”

5G in Manufacturing

For example, 5G-powered smart sensors will bring real-time responsiveness to many systems and machines across industrial settings. These sensors “will further accelerate automated processes, and allow machines to update themselves and initiate a new process when there is demand,” the KPMG authors observe. “These smart sensors will be able to assess the quality of components that are being manufactured in real-time, reducing re-working requirements.”

Other major benefits to be delivered through 5G include “reducing wastage in unnecessary maintenance or premature replacement of machinery,” the report states. “5G-enabled sensors will be able to report when a component actually needs replacing, rather than when it is believed to be due.”

5G in Healthcare

5G will have transformative effects all across the healthcare industry, from medical devices to patient communications. With 5G-boosted telemedicine, for example, patient health can constantly be monitored through AI and big data, the KPMG authors state. “We estimate that 5G could free up one million hours annually of general practitioner time and produce more than [$1.6 billion] of productivity gains as a result,” they estimate. “The average individual, meanwhile, will save over three hours a year of GP visits – also protecting themselves from potential exposure to viruses and infections in waiting rooms.”

In addition, the constant monitor and telemedicine enabled through 5G networks “will also automatically update individuals’ health profiles with the latest data and information. It will flag potential risks and areas of concern.”

In hospitals, 5G could also help transform operations through telesurgery, the KPMG report states. “Initially, this might be where a leading expert watches an operation remotely and speaks ‘in the ear’ of the operating surgeon, giving them advice and guidance… Ultimately, the expert surgeon may be able to control robotic machinery through his or her own remote hand movements, effectively operating themselves on a patient on the other side of the planet.”

5G in Cities

Government is another industry that will see new kinds of opportunities as 5G networks proliferate. As Shannon Flynn explains in TechAcute,

For starters, 5G can play a role in reducing pollution and congestion from automobiles, be providing rapid communication to public transit systems, optimizing wait times, travel times, and efficiency, Flynn points out. The rapid speed of 5G delivery also enables city officials to act faster on congestion and crime information. “Changing the city infrastructure is an actionable step from 5G data. Architects, urban designers, and engineers can work together to create a landscape that works for everyone.”

Manufacturers, healthcare providers, and governments are just three of the leading examples of how the impending 5G revolution will help move data at lightning speeds from edge devices and networks to more centralized decision-making systems. Indeed, 5G is much, much more than a very fast mobile phone.

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About Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is RTInsights Industry Editor. He is a regular contributor to Forbes on digital, cloud and Big Data topics. He served on the organizing committee for the recent IEEE International Conference on Edge Computing (full bio). Follow him on Twitter @joemckendrick.

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