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5G – Changing How We Live in Real Time

5G – Changing How We Live in Real Time

The West Midlands has been awarded the opportunity to provide a testbed for 5G technology. But what is 5G and why do we need it?

Every decade mobile communications systems change, because technology changes as our needs change.

Over the past 20 years we’ve developed from calls and texts to wanting to be able to access internet sites and emails on our phones, to needing to be able to access, stream and download/upload much heavier, audio and visual data. 4G turned a mobile phone into a smart phone. It allows us to work, live and control a multitude of smart devices and machines remotely.

What 4G doesn’t have the capacity to do, for example, is allow a stadium full of people to all be downloading or uploading the same amount of heavy data all at the same time. Or allow real time, instant data over very long distances.

5G is designed to connect more things, simultaneously, allowing faster download and uploads, which in turn allows instant response capabilities and therefore increased reliability and the birth of widespread IOT.

For how far it can go, the general consensus during this testbed phase is somewhat “we don’t know what we don’t know” or as far as the imagination can go. This, along with the assumption that the “Uber” conversations that happened with 4G will develop with 5G and spawn the next, so far unprecedented level for technology’s ongoing integration with everyday life and business processes.

What we do know is that for business 5G could be transformational for multitudes of industries. From developing more intelligent machine learning to improve manufacturing processes, for example through allowing multiple sensors on a machine to send lots of different information about its functionality simultaneously so that anomalies and faults can be instantly detected, and fixed – real time, turnkey automation via IOT. To allowing a CT scan in a hospital in the UK to be viewed and scrutinised in real time by a specialist radiologist in a completely different part of the world; or an engineer to share his environment with another engineer for a second opinion or advice on how to make a repair without having to be there in person.

For the property industry, 5G technology could improve processes by allowing real time control of systems used in construction – meaning more accuracy, more speed, and theoretically improved safety as responses to any activity could be triggered instantly. It could, and probably will, have mass implications for improving residential life and especially residential buildings as smart features, better connectivity and integrated lifestyle choices become more readily available in state of the art developments.

What we also know, is that this is probably the beginning for the future of truly smart cities, where there could be potential to connect road systems for improved traffic flow, and these systems with emergency networks for faster communication and faster response to incidents, along with multiple other possibilities.

5G holds the potential to completely transform the way we live, yet again, and the most exciting part of it is perhaps knowing, that we don’t know what is still to come.


Notes taken from “5G: Changing Birmingham In Real Time” with Downtown in Business and Trowers & Hamlins, Tuesday 3rd September 2019. Chaired by Amardeep Gill of Trowers & Hamlins with talks from Prashant Pillai, Director of Wolverhampton Cyber Research Institution and Gayle Cogswell, Industry Consultant at West Midlands 5G.


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