So you can already stream music and video to your smartphone at will, along with practically any content from around the world, and – bosses willing – you can work when you are on the go. But you haven’t seen anything yet.
The next generation of mobile network will soon be here – and the building blocks leading to 5G are already being deployed.
A futureproof network must be more than speedy. It needs a higher capacity to support more people doing more things at the same time. It also needs lower latency with data travelling faster than ever from your smartphone to somewhere in the network and back again; supporting the Internet of Things (IoT) that allows machines to talk to cars and cars to talk to your calendar, telling you to leave in 5 minutes to make your 9am meeting.
The future will be about more than controlling your smart home or seeing what sensors tell you about your office environment – it’ll be about powerful virtual assistants negotiating on your behalf, and informing you of the optimal outcomes they have automatically achieved for you. Imagine no longer having to suffer through the arduous process of comparing electricity plans or finding that perfect holiday – your virtual assistant will take care of that for you.
Swarms of drones flying around delivering goods are still some way off (especially in the CBD), but ground-based delivery robots or “drones on wheels” are more feasible in the short term. So one may soon be delivering your lunch to the office.
The vision of cities being completely re-imagined in the age of flying cars will also take some time, but autonomous cars will soon start to make your commute much more bearable and Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technologies will make it smoother and safer.
What all these emerging technologies have in common is the requirement for reliable connectivity, and levels of capacity and low latency that right now are difficult to truly conceptualise. Ultimately, what is incredibly exciting is all the things we’re yet to think of, because once the network foundation is there, we have a practically unlimited space for innovation.