Most Gadgets already have some sort of connection to the internet. Web based email accounts, storage applications like Dropbox, spreadsheets and word processes from Google - and a myriad more applications - are just different ‘Front Ends’ to the Cloud. Credible estimates suggest that the cloud is already responsible for nearly 60% of company IT spend and that this trend will continue, rising to 80% of company IT budgets before the end of the decade.
And now, here comes 5G for any new gadgets that come to market. 5G is likely to change the nature of what we do, the ways that we do it and could result in the currently cheap cost of Mobile data services rising quickly, to be a higher proportion of family and business expenses.
5G may be here much sooner than you think - in around 2 years
A host of gadgets are going to make use of 5G. 5G technology, which will supersede 4G / LTE connectivity, from the year 2020 (trials will start in most countries as early as 2018), will offer data speeds so fast that for most users, downloads will seem to occur instantaneously and bandwidth will seem infinite. It’s this sort of super speed that will turbo charge the move to the cloud for business and consumers alike.
What's more, gadgets that use 5G will benefit from something we've never experienced before : near zero latency. (5G connections will respond in less than 1 millisecond. Humans can only detect responses less than around 200 milliseconds.
An example of the difference 5G can make to your gadgets
As soon as you hit enter, whatever gadget you’re using, you'll get the response to your query. Both aspects of 5G favour web based interactions, over larger, more expensive to maintain and inconvenient to download native apps.
At the moment, using Google Sheets, (Google’s free web based Excel equivalent) for example, can be slower than undertaking the same task on Microsoft’s software. The difference users experience is precisely because of the latency between the submission of information to each cell and the time it takes the page to download / respond.
To the user, this appears as a delay between pressing return and seeing the numbers they’ve typed in appear on the page. In Excel, the information is held and worked on locally rather than in the cloud which works better when processing power and storage is local. The principal applies both to laptop and smartphone interactions.
What could happen to the apps we use when 5G gets here
More than 50% of all internet transactions are already performed from mobile devices. When 5G arrives, the new technical features of the technology are likely to cause an even faster migration of the things which are not currently in the cloud, across to web based.
In simple terms Google's free 'Sheets' software will function just as effectively over a 5G connection as Excel does now. We will all benefit from the change. Sheets is free, to begin with, can be worked on by many people at the same time and is automatically backed up.
Since processing is done centrally, it’s more efficient. Instead of the processor in your phone or laptop being unused most of the time, it’s far more likely that centralized resources will be better utilized. That’s the primary reason we have networks, after all, to make resource utilization more efficient.
Summing up 5G's effect on all your gadgets
Ironically, the centralization of everything in the cloud could lead to things being more, not less available. When Doctors can operate remotely, using a 5G connection, as if they were in the same room as the person being operated on, they can remove the need for patients to travel to them.
At an individual level, the phones we use may become much cheaper – since expensive processors and storage will no longer have to be bought by the user – they will be available online for a fraction of the cost. Prices for digital services are likely to fall as standards rise and the world moves to a ‘pay per use’ model of everything.
5G is likely to be so successful at driving adoption of web based services that WiFi, the last mile of current fixed connections will have to be improved or it will be sidestepped. Our expectations of technology are rising rapidly and are re-framed by every new ‘optimal’ experience we have. When we’re used to infinite bandwidth and immediate turnaround from 5G, why would we settle for less elsewhere?
If there is a fly in the ointment, it’s the relative costs involved. Mobile data is typically far more expensive than fixed equivalents, where only the final steps are over a mobile, wifi network. Mobile phone bills are already around 5% of household bills. Even with the ongoing reductions in the price of data delivered by phone companies over mobile networks, the move to the cloud will end up costing even more than it does now, for consumers and businesses alike.