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The 5G economy:
from pandemic
impact to recovery
and the next
15 years

Author: Shane Schick

The pandemic recovery won't just see businesses continue to pursue digital transformation. It could also be among the driving forces of the 5G economy.

From the moment the pandemic struck, organizations around the world began pivoting to remote work and rapidly shifting to digital-first processes. Now, more than ever, they need to realize the benefits that 5G can offer—from improved network speed and throughput to lower latency—to continue enhancing customer experiences.

The impacts of 5G on productivity and economic growth

Beyond what they've already adopted in order to weather the pandemic, organizations will be looking for technologies that align with their bottom-line metrics. These usually include the ability to boost workforce productivity as well as the top-line revenue that contributes to the wider economy.

Business leaders already anticipate 5G playing a role in both areas. According to the Verizon 5G Business Report, for example, 80% of business decision-makers believe 5G will provide new opportunities for their companies.

Almost three-quarters, or 73%, have already identified the 5G applications that will be most beneficial to their company, and seven out of 10 believe 5G technologies will help accelerate their post-pandemic recovery.

Some sectors that can benefit from the 5G economy include healthcare, supply chains and retail. Here's a breakdown of the impacts that 5G could have on productivity and economic growth in these industries:

Healthcare

Extending the patient experience beyond the walls of a hospital, doctor's office or clinic became critical when COVID-19 reached pandemic levels. Beyond virtual consultations, however, healthcare organizations continue to recognize ongoing needs that 5G should be able to uniquely address.

For example, with telehealth services, patients in remote or rural areas can avoid long trips to seek treatment. But effective telehealth services require a reliable network capable of supporting high-quality video, sharing large image files and offering real-time monitoring of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT)—all of which are potential applications of 5G technology.

5G could also prove instrumental in handling the large data sets used by artificial intelligence applications that could monitor a patient's symptoms and possibly help them from getting worse. The same technologies could help personalize care and increase the speed at which researchers develop new medicines and treatments.

Supply chains

While sheltering in place during the pandemic, many consumers were concerned about being able to order and receive all of the products they needed. Digitizing the supply chain became a top priority in order to reduce missed shipments, lost cargo or the risk of counterfeit goods making their way into the market.

With its ability eventually to support one million devices in a square kilometer, 5G should allow supply chain partners to more effectively track and trace the movement of goods through the IoT. This could also minimize costly errors while making sure supply chains are as productive as possible.

Over the next decade and beyond, the 5G economy should do more to enhance supply chains, from enabling remote maintenance and using robotics and autonomous vehicles in warehouse environments to providing low latency for improved fleet management.

Retail

Increased competition had already been pushing retailers to hasten their move to online sales, but the pandemic increased the urgency by an order of magnitude. Then, during government-mandated lockdowns, a digital experience became the only one retailers could offer their customers.

Even for retailers who have welcomed shoppers back in their stores, the expectations around safety protocols and the ongoing need to differentiate experiences should make 5G adoption in retail imperative.

Applications using augmented or virtual reality need a reliable network to offer remote shopping or a more immersive in-store environment where consumers can virtually try products before they buy them, for instance. These solutions can require considerable mobile data and processing power, for which 5G equipment is tailor-made.

The dynamic nature of the 5G infrastructure could also support the expansion of retailers who want to open new locations—or online and direct-to-consumer brands that want to add an in-person option to their omnichannel strategy via temporary "pop-up" locations.

Seizing the 5G economy opportunity

The 5G economy should open up similar opportunities in many other markets, including sports, media and the public sector. Businesses are now looking further into the impacts of 5G on productivity and economic growth to create a foundation for their success.

Learn more about the possibilities Verizon 5G is helping to unlock.