Contact Us

Why we need 5G
technology—and
what it means
for society

Author: Megan Williams

With all the conversations around 5G, it is easy to dismiss the network and its capabilities as overhyped. But its implications range farther and wider than people might think.

Much discussion of the next-generation network has focused on consumer use cases, but 5G is positioned to change the world in unprecedented ways. To appreciate why we need 5G technology, we must understand how it is expected to form the foundation of tomorrow's digital economy and help address social challenges.

The significance of 5G: why we need 5G technology

To better understand the importance of 5G technology, we have to understand what sets the move to 5G apart from previous generational jumps.

Yes, 5G is poised to be faster than previous network generations—it is potentially 100 times faster than 4G. But 5G's upgrades go beyond speed. 5G can also provide low latency, letting applications and communications running on 5G connect and share data in near real-time. When considering the significance of 5G technology, it’s not just about doing the same things faster—low latency and high bandwidth should eventually enable novel functions for the Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing and extended reality.

5G will be one of the driving forces behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution—the blurring of the lines between physical, digital and biological spaces.

The importance of 5G technology for society

The potential benefits in the social sphere are another reason why we need 5G technology. The basic capabilities of 5G are easy enough to understand, but the ways in which the next-generation network could help address generations-old societal challenges are unique and multifaceted.

Why we need 5G technology: industrial and environmental impacts

Comprehending the significance of 5G technology leads one to understand the significant implications 5G can have on industrial and environmental developments.

In collaboration with the World Economic Forum, PwC examined an aerial intelligence company that realized improved operational and corporate asset management through enhanced use of the cloud to transform aerial and ground imagery data into actionable insights. High bandwidth and ultra-low latency can enable near real-time asset monitoring to support predictive maintenance and more efficient operations. Virtual networks and edge computing can help keep workers out of remote or hazardous areas. And there are also applications of 5G that can support carbon footprint management.

Social value of 5g technology

PwC also highlighted 11 key areas in which 5G can deliver social value that corresponds with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. The social value of 5G mostly comes from its potential contributions to health and well-being, infrastructure enhancements and sustainable industrialization. 5G could help accelerate the shift to autonomous vehicles; this could help move human drivers to office environments more safely and address driver shortages.

5G could also power connected devices that can monitor crop health, smart cities that use IoT sensors to monitor air quality and improve traffic patterns and intersection safety, and hospitals that can remotely diagnose and perform hands-on procedures to treat patient complaints.

There is also chatter about whether the upfront cost of preparing networks and businesses to make good use of 5G will be worth the investment. 5G cannot reach its full potential without the right infrastructure and processes in place, but the same has been true for every generational technology shift. By recognizing the importance of 5G technology and proactively investing in 5G-ready technology, organizations can ensure that they stay at the forefront of digital transformation.

Discover how creative visionaries are using 5G to build innovative solutions to society's most pressing challenges.