With CES underway and Mobile World Congress right around the corner, forget the enormous televisions and shiny new handsets – the technology that will really change consumer’s lives and that will be front and center in these two industry shows is 5G. While to the uninitiated it might seem like all 5G has to offer are higher speeds than 4G, the technology is actually a game changer for a number of industries.

With 5G, we will soon be connected to everything around us via a network that will be as much as 100 times faster than our current cellular connections, and, depending on which article you read, similar orders of magnitude faster than what home broadband services currently offer. These lightning-fast speeds are exactly what future technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and self-driving cars need to exist and continue to improve.

Best of all, now that the first official standards of 5G have been agreed, it seems the technology is finally well on its way to becoming a reality. Here are some reasons to be excited about the rise of 5G:

Autonomous and connected vehicles: Not only will connected vehicles generate enormous amounts of data, but crucially, they will also need to take in and process huge amounts of data to properly handle complex situations such as needing to move for emergency vehicles or sudden changes in road conditions due to accidents, weather, etc. Currently, our communications systems cannot support this as there is simply not enough bandwidth. 5G is expected to be able to handle up to 10GB per second, which as mentioned above, is much, much faster than the fastest average LTE speeds in the US.

Remote surgery: 5G also comes with low latency, which is the time it takes for the network to respond to a request. Most consumers may not be aware but there is roughly a 45ms latency with 4G LTE. 5G makes the lag virtually negligible at 1ms (that’s 400 times faster than the blink of an eye), making remote surgery a possibility. This means, for example, that a surgeon in Tokyo could wear a Virtual Reality (VR) headset and special glove to operate on a patient in Los Angeles. Thanks to the low latency inherent with 5G, the surgeon’s movements would be performed with precision and without delay on the patient. As a result, patients could have access to the best possible experts, without needing to leave their hometowns for treatment, opening up a world of possibility for medicine.

Virtual Reality (VR): Soon, virtual reality (as well as augmented reality, AR) will be in the hands of all consumers. Thanks to the impressive capacity and speeds that 5G brings, increasingly complex worlds can be rendered in real-time via VR headsets by manufacturers such as Samsung, Google, and Oculus. The possibilities are endless – from enhancing how people work by connecting employees from all over the world in virtual offices, to helping intrepid explorers go on realistic expeditions to Antarctica or even Mars, VR can change the way we experience the world around us, creating rich virtual experiences.

These are only some of the amazing applications of 5G that excite us in the years ahead. As with any network, however, routinely measuring and monitoring performance are key activities to ensuring reliable and robust services.  Benchmarking plays a very critical role as 4G networks morph into 5G, as new networks and systems come online, and as new wireless services that directly involve health and safety become a reality. Visit our website to find out more about the importance of benchmarking.  And if you want a quick snapshot of how your network is performing – download our Android or iOS app!