10 exciting 5G use cases that show what 5G can really do

Now that 5G networks are expanding across the country, it’s a great time to start thinking about some of the innovative 5G use cases that will impact the world as we know it. Like any upgrade to our mobile network infrastructure, the most exciting aspect is the speed and consistency it brings. That, combined with latency reductions, is enough to start predicting some of the opportunities 5G will provide in the coming years.

Some of the most obvious 5G use cases are related to technologies that can only really be made better by an improved mobile network. These are things like smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and businesses. The difference between 4G and 5G in that regard is the sheer improvement to consistent high-speed internet on the go. That improvement will bring with it a slew of improvements to existing technologies, but also spark entirely new ones that couldn’t exist with 4G or 3G networks. Here are some of the most exciting 5G cases you can look forward to.

Improved home internet

What is 5G if not just a better and faster way to access the web? While 5G home internet may seem like one of the most boring use cases, it will bring with it a bit of reckoning to the wireless internet industry. 5G is already faster than some Wi-Fi connections depending on what service you have, but we may not see the full potential of that just yet.

The idea of download speeds between 1Gbps and 10Gbps and upload speed, or latency, of just 1 millisecond (ms) has people excited about 5G. Those speeds are comparable to what you’d see from a physical Ethernet connection. However, the reality is we won’t typically get anywhere near the theoretical top speeds. And even if we do it wouldn’t be for at least a few more years.

If you’re looking for more information on this, check out our guide to 5G home internet.

Autonomous Vehicles

Waymo autonomous truck
Waymo

With companies like Waymo, Tesla, and Uber all looking to make driverless vehicles a reality, the future of autonomous cars is right at our doorstep. And 5G is one of the last remaining puzzle pieces that will help make it happen. That’s because 5G doesn’t necessarily have to rely solely on the cellular network. That means that C-V2X communications can happen using 5G protocols in the absence of a connection to the general wireless data infrastructure.

These systems give the driver (or the car) the status of the next upcoming traffic light, and an estimate of when that light is scheduled to change — which is essential for driverless cars.

5G Drones

Walmart

One of the most exciting, and terrifying uses of 5G is the idea of a network of drones. Verizon already has plans to be the first telecommunications company to use 5G to enable millions of connected drone flights. And since Verizon already bought a company called Skyward back in 2016, it’s probably not that farfetched to believe this kind of drone system will soon become a reality.

While some of the most impressive uses of drones these days are video footage — similar to the bowling alley drone video circulating the web — what we will likely see more of first is the use of delivery drones. There are already multiple examples of drones being built specifically with delivery in mind, but with the advances of 5G, we will start to see this become a more common and efficient practice.

Streaming Quality

netflix composite
Chris DeGraw/Digital Trends

Though it won’t necessarily improve your day-to-day life, 5G offers the potential for better streaming quality outside of your home. If you’ve ever struggled to stream Netflix in 4K even on your own WiFi, then this is an improvement that could impact your life for the better. With improved download speeds, 5G could potentially allow you to watch 4K content on the go — which will become more common as 8K becomes more widespread.

One caveat with this is that can depend on what mobile plan you have as well as what carrier you use. Some carriers throttle your internet connection, so even if you have 5G, you still may only be able to get your Netflix shows in 1080p. But either way, it should be a vast improvement from 4G.

For now, we suggest you don’t try to stream Netflix in 4K with 5G.

Sports Broadcasting

SPOKANE, WA – NOVEMBER 10: Gonzaga guard Geno Crandall (0) and Texas Southern guard Jalyn Patterson (3) scramble for a loose ball during the game between the Texas Southern Bengals and the Gonzaga Bulldogs played on November 10, 2018 in Spokane, Washington at the McCarthey Athletic Center.(Photo by Robert Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“The amazing part of 5G is the amount of video data that we’re able to push out on a single cell modem,” says Brad Cheney, vice president of field operations and engineering for Fox Sports. With latency being one-tenth of what it is on regular 4G LTE, 5G enables Fox Sports to send higher-quality video and much more data back to their network centers and into your home. Fans not only will be able to watch games via livestreams, but because of the speeds of 5G, they’ll also be able to do things like choose various camera angles live as the game happens.

In this case, 5G is being used for the Big East Basketball tournament. The tournament is taking place in Madison Square garden where Verizon’s 5G infrastructure is already in place. And though this is really only the beginning of how 5G will be used in sports broadcasting, it shows a lot of potential for the future.

Healthcare

Project Zero 2.0 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor

One of the most exciting areas private 5G networks will impact is the healthcare industry. The arrival of Covid-19 has made telemedicine more popular over the past year, but there are still a lot more advancements to be made. A faster, more reliable mobile network will make things like remote diagnosis and operations more common.

But remote healthcare isn’t the only potential improvement 5G could provide. With some of the best smartwatches on the market already offering things like heart-rate and blood pressure, we will likely see the wearable industry become an integral part of healthcare’s future.

Improved Communication

We are living in an unprecedented era of video calls, but there is a ton of room for improvement here. With so many folks dealing with Zoom issues due to poor wireless connections, the need for a better mobile network is very clear when it comes to this type of communication. The first wave of video calls using the fifth-generation network will be on the latest 5G phones, but that’s really only the beginning.

The potential of 5G extends well beyond mobile phones to augmented and virtual reality. Though it may still be a few years down the road, communication is evolving toward a more realistic video call experience. Can you imagine being able to interact with a 3D-hologram of your parents from miles away? Or even just using VR to simulate being in the same room together? This is where we are headed, and 5G will be able to help us get there.

Agriculture

We’ve come a long way with agriculture technologies, but there’s still a long way to go if we’re going to be able to effectively feed a growing population. And we are already working on it with something called ‘smart farming’, which is all about using resources more efficiently. For example, traditional farming techniques often involve widespread treatments rather than precise, targeted ones. The more we can do to save time, water, and money on growing food, the more we can do without too significant of an impact to the environment.

5G is essential for these more precise farming techniques mostly because it supports machine-to-machine services. Meaning farming equipment can be more easily controlled by a central system in real-time. Not only will this cut down the cost of farming, but it should also allow us to grow more crops more efficiently.

Smart Cities

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

One of the most exciting use cases for 5G technology is the ability to have a connected smart city. A more reliable mobile network means a more reliable city infrastructure. One example of this is the Alba lulia Smart City, which is already using things like congestion monitoring, smart waste management, and parking sensors in Romania.

While the idea of an interconnected city is an intriguing concept that will likely solve a lot of infrastructure problems, it may also cause some privacy issues for the residents. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting and futuristic.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Lazar Gugleta/Unsplash

Smart devices have made their way into our homes and our societal structure as a whole. With smart assistants like Alexa and Siri becoming an essential part of our daily lives, our homes will only get smarter with the addition of 5G. And while most people think that 5G is mostly just a smartphone technology, it’s something that will have a significant impact on the tech in our homes as well. The key here is in 5G’s ability to provide a low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) that can provide a more reliable connection.

A patchy and unreliable connection can cause a lot of problems within a smart home, and improved Wi-Fi isn’t necessarily the solution for this. Not only will 5G be able to bring a more stable wireless connection to more rural areas, it will also be able to unify many different devices under a single wireless standard — which should improve the connection between devices.

Editors' Recommendations