Get ready to supercharge your New Year’s resolutions: 2020 is going to be the year that 5G powers its way into our lives in a huge way. Before you experience the next revolution in connectivity, let’s find out what it all means, and what’s already possible.
What is 5G?
5G is networking shorthand for the fifth generation of mobile connectivity standards. Each generation – from 1G through to 5G – has brought with it a brighter future. Back when it was called 1G, we only had simple voice communications and a limited coverage map to deal with. As we went digital with 2G we first saw the potential of data on the move with mobile emails. By the time 3G came around, we realised the potential of mobile data, and everyone was hooked. It allowed for smartphones to be born as we know them today, and 4G brought with it an explosion in everything from mobile data to HD video connectivity in everyone’s pockets.
5G will make good on the promise of a truly connected entertainment experience, delivering speeds and network capacity we’d only previously dreamed of. We predict that when 5G reaches its peak it could be 10x faster than the current 5G speeds enabling a download of a HD movie in around a second. 5G also improves latency (lag time) helping you play games faster and improve video calls and other entertainment technologies. Future 5G capabilities will provide ultra-reliable low latency communications that will greatly enable technologies like smart cities, and self-driving cars.
5G is also going to be easy to get your hands on! In 2020, we expect most major handset manufacturers to have a 5G handset available in an affordable form factor. We released Samsung’s Galaxy A90 5G in late 2019 which packs incredible features for a mid-range, $1000 device, especially when compared to premium $1000+ handsets.
5G is still in its early stages. Our network rollout has 5G presence in 26 cities and there are new emerging 5G technologies that are still in the testing phase. That said, the first 5G applications are already appearing, demonstrating how 5G will change the world for the average consumer.
2020 is the year of 5G
We’re already working with partners on incredible new applications that can be supercharged by 5G’s low-latency and ultra-fast speeds for the best entertainment, education and public safety experiences possible. The “everyday” experience of connectivity will change dramatically thanks to this new networking standard.
Award-winning Australian startup Flaim Systems are already using VR and Haptic technologies to prepare firefighters for real-world conditions. Flaim’s suit even heats up as trainees get closer to the virtual fire they’re tasked with extinguishing, and realistic hardware simulates how high-velocity hoses work, right down to the recoil you feel as you turn up the water pressure.
5G will more readily mobilise Flaim Systems’ training program. Combining VR technology and high-speed networks will allow an unprecedented ability to train firefighters all around the country.
Elsewhere, 5G will power more entertainment than we thought possible with 4G. While streaming services such as Netflix or Stan as well as mobile gaming were able to seize upon the new speed and capacity and offer better and better resolution with 4G, 5G will offer the next step-change.
We’re is currently developing a VR sports experience that can transport multiple users (able to interact with each other) inside a live sports event.
Cloud gaming is set to disrupt the world of gaming in 2020, with major brands set to roll out their cloud gaming products. Again, 5G will play a role here, both with eSports, where every millisecond counts, and also with the mainstream gamer. The ultra-low latency will greatly enhance the capabilities of mobile devices as gaming platforms and with cloud gaming machines hosted at the mobile edge, the quality of mobile games is set to skyrocket.
5G will also offer content providers a wealth of new opportunities. In September 2019, we broadcast live over our 5G network from a Queensland beach on the Gold Coast, not only in 8k resolution but also in 360 degrees: a feat previously unheard of with even the fastest 4G capabilities.
Live entertainment experiences can also benefit from 5G thanks to real-time augmented reality services for fans. Imagine an AFL game where the crowd can track their favourite athletes and get the stats and trivia that sports fans thrive on, live through a mixed reality experience. It’s possible with 5G!
5G will, hopefully, make our world a little safer. From enhanced automotive safety systems, through anti-fraud to shark detection around beaches. Westpac Little Ripper have a lifesaving program that incorporates drones for search and rescue – UAVs that can detect people in need and deliver lifesaving equipment. 5G testing is already demonstrating additional layers to the program.
Through the transmission of higher resolution imagery and cutting-edge detection algorithms, the drones have a better chance of detecting people in danger and can even identify threats in the water such as sharks. Better connectivity means that surf lifesavers can do the important work of saving people in the water while drones are piloted from an offsite location with split-second reaction times to help people in a crisis. We’ve also been testing with drone swarms over 5G, multiple drones piloted by a single operator, to search larger areas much quicker for things like search and rescue in bushland where connectivity is more challenging.
From surfers in distress to more high-street struggles, we’re is exploring how 5G video analytics can help detect bank card fraud to keep your bank accounts more secure. We expect Australians to see some real-world applications in 2020.
And while conversations continue around fully automated vehicles, we’re already working, in partnership with Lexus Australia and the Victorian Government on the Advanced Connected Vehicle Victoria. The project is currently trialling cellular V2X technology and advanced driver assist features that create a safer driving experience – the ultra-low latency of 5G a critical benefit for reducing automated response times and the increased capacity of 5G vital for a future where there could be millions of autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles on the road.
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