Dell Technologies’ Des O’Sullivan discusses the wide-ranging uses of 5G and the importance of overcoming the challenges that come with it.
For some time now, we have been hearing about the promise of 5G. The fifth generation of telecommunication data, 5G stands as one of the most critical building blocks to advance Ireland’s digital economy, boost our recovery and radically transform the way we live.
Over recent years, we have begun to see the positive impact of 5G in our daily lives. As the very first mobile infrastructure built in the cloud era, the roll-out of 5G is enhancing connectivity for people and communities across Ireland.
Despite the promise that 5G brings to consumers, many businesses in Ireland have yet to understand and embrace the benefits that 5G technology will bring.
According to Dell Technologies’ Digital Adoption Study 2021, although almost seven in 10 businesses believe that 5G technology will be extremely or very important in keeping connected with a remote workforce, more than half of leaders are unaware of the benefits that 5G technology will unlock in the next one to three years.
With 40pc of global networks to be covered by 5G in 2024, and all populated areas in Ireland to be covered by 5G by 2030, it’s vital that businesses in areas ranging from manufacturing to logistics begin to realise the value 5G can bring to their organisation.
Unlocking new opportunities for business and citizens
As the digital fabric of our data-driven era, 5G will deliver ultra-fast connection speeds and gigantic bandwidth to drive companies’ efficiency and innovation potential.
Companies across Ireland will be able to make greater use of futuristic technologies that are already starting to have an impact on our everyday lives.
These include heavy data users such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT) and extended reality (XR), all of which will benefit different sectors of our economy in varying ways.
In healthcare, which has already seen the benefits of remote capabilities during the pandemic, we can expect to see greater use of high-precision tools like remote surgery, while in transport there will be a surge in new smart mobility services from autonomous vehicles to connected scooters, all of which rely on 5G’s ultra-low latency standards.
Private 5G roll-out will also become a viable option for many large businesses in the areas of manufacturing and logistics. This heralds a new era of private connection for Irish businesses, enabling greater data-driven insights and real-time business decisions.
For Irish consumers, the full roll-out of 5G means they will also be able to fully enjoy a huge variety of smart devices in the home, like roofs that detect storm damage and rubbish bins that ask to be emptied.
Out in public, we can begin to expect better signals on open parking spaces or active air-quality warnings. For farming and food production, precision agriculture can help create efficiencies like never before through providing real-time, high-speed communications among sensors and devices, enhancing business and consumer experience and choice.
By embracing 5G across our business and personal lives, we can boost innovation, make our lives more seamless and unlock insights from data as and where we need it.
Boosting a sustainable transition
As Ireland looks to play its part in the global effort to achieve climate targets, perhaps even more important is the role of 5G in putting digital transformation on a sustainable pathway. According to recent calculations, 5G has the potential to reduce global emissions up to 15pc by 2030.
Right now, Ireland’s current electronic communications infrastructure is largely based upon 4G mobile networks and fixed broadband. However, throughput limitations force 4G network devices to work at full capacity, resulting in constant energy inefficiency. With 5G, its increased capacity could enable a 90pc reduction in network energy usage.
Additionally, from energy distribution to challenges in food provision, IoT applications powered by 5G offer many other innovative solutions to help accelerate our drive to a net-zero future.
By deploying a number of interconnected sensors that collect and analyse precise data remotely from crops, machinery and livestock, Ireland’s agriculture sector could benefit from optimised yields at a much lower environmental and financial cost.
Overcoming challenges to prosper
Although we have made some good progress on coverage in recent years, building sustainable 5G networks is no small feat, even compared to past telecom generations. It’s a massive undertaking that requires considerable public and private support for new infrastructure, devices and services.
The Government’s recent commitment to covering all populated areas in Ireland by 5G by 2030 in the latest National Digital Strategy is a step in the right direction.
There is also the important issue of security. Due to its less centralised architecture, smart computing power at the edge, and the need for more antennas and increased dependency on software, 5G networks offer more potential entry points for attackers.
It’s reassuring, therefore, to see the Government recently endorse the EU toolbox on 5G cybersecurity, which sets out a coordinated European approach based on a common set of measures, aimed at mitigating the main cybersecurity risks of 5G networks.
As a major enabler for future digital services, 5G will play a key role in the development of our digital economy and society in the years to come. Therefore, it’s critical that we address these challenges head on. Doing so will be key to future-proofing our economy and sustaining competitiveness.
If you are still in doubt as to whether 5G really is something we need for ourselves or industry, take a moment to think back to the time of dial-up performance. Now, contrast that experience with cable internet. That dramatic jump doesn’t even come close to the leap forward we can expect from the 4G to 5G transition.
It’s not just about speed, though. Data capacity and speed together will enable a radically new spectrum of possibilities for businesses and citizens right across the country.
With the right tools, know-how and commitment in place, 5G can help Ireland not only sustain the recovery that has taken hold but to power up our data-driven economy of the future.
Des O’Sullivan is the vice-president of customer solutions centres at Dell Technologies.
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