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Low-latency 5G and the opportunities it can create

Author: Poornima Apte

When fully deployed, the low-latency characteristics of 5G networks will help to revolutionize industries around the world. Advanced wireless network architectures, such as mobile edge computing, enable computing close to the source of data—letting machines communicate in near real-time and enabling businesses in practically every industry focus on delivering superior customer service, increasing supply chain transparency and boosting worker productivity.

Challenges low-latency 5G can address

Smart businesses are fueled by data—and anything that slows the processing of that data has a direct impact on both customers and employees, for example.

  • Retail: Shopping, whether online or in brick-and-mortar stores, can be hampered by network failure, poor customer engagement and any number of stocking and delivery issues.
  • Healthcare: Patients can't always take time off from work to visit the doctor, and sometimes in-person visits just aren't feasible. Physicians are also continuously searching for better ways to monitor patients when they're at home and keep an eye on drug interactions while they're in the hospital.
  • Manufacturing: On the manufacturing plant floor, technicians lose precious production time when critical assets malfunction or if there isn't proper IT/OT alignment. And in the field, routine service calls don't always require the most expensive technicians.
  • Supply Chain: Sudden extreme weather and geopolitical events disrupt network access that businesses and customers rely on. Whatever their sector, businesses need accurate real-time data for greater supply chain transparency.

The list of challenges is long, and under responsive wireless networks can create dangerous and costly bottlenecks for business. Faster data processing through low-latency 5G networks can unearth solutions, laying the groundwork for complete digital transformation. Low-latency 5G delivers the speed that advanced technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, need to realize their full potential.

The opportunities low latency 5G can create

Ultra-low 5G latency is the bridge between a network speed that's fast and a network speed that's practically instantaneous. 5G's speed and low latency will help compatible wireless devices process high volumes of data extremely quickly and close to the source. But what will that look like industry by industry?

In retail stores

Immersive augmented reality experiences, both online and in stores, can help customers put together outfits and even see what they look like in them—without trying them on. It could even enable AI-driven omnichannel marketing and customer service intelligence to help customers have a much more cohesive shopping experience—whether that's online or in-person.

On the back end, low-latency 5G can make supply chains even more transparent. Smart shelves could automatically reorder items from vendors when supplies run low, and IoT-embedded sensors in warehouses could gauge when perishables are about to expire and adjust shipment deadlines accordingly.

Virtual visits

Virtualized physician/patient care encounters have now been greatly enabled by reimbursement and regulatory changes, and the increasing access to healthcare enabled through telemedicine. Hospitals could leverage 5G to apply AI in a variety of ways: to read patient sensor data and determine how patients are reacting to medicines; to deliver precision radiation doses to cancer patients; even to create personalized medicines. 5G enables faster computing in every instance, helping AI constructs do their jobs more quickly and more accurately.

The low-latency of 5G can also streamline the handoff from ambulance to the ER, create extensive training experiences for young physicians and is likely to increase tracking of vital patient data through wearable technology.

On the factory floor

No more routing data to the cloud and waiting for the results—5G edge computing can enable split-second decision-making at the source. A 5G-enabled machine that's about to break down could alert a technician of the impending issue to streamline repairs. And machine learning algorithms could study past machinery behavior and crunch a continuous stream of data—motor temperature, for example—from IoT-embedded sensors and send an alert before a breakdown occurs.

Additionally, computer-enhanced video paired with IoT-connected machinery can help identify faulty products—while they're still on the assembly line. This way, these products can be removed long before they reach store shelves or the customer, improving their experience and your brand's reputation for quality.

A faster future

A digitized, remote world needs low-latency wireless networks to facilitate the speed of business. If we're to experience a true Industry 4.0 revolution, we'll need solutions that can aggregate and analyze data from the warehouse to the work floor. The very tangible problems that low-latency 5G can solve will increasingly make it a necessity to stay ahead of the competition and see this future realized.

Learn how 5G technology can help your business.