5G Research – Sensing the Opportunities

There has been a lot of hype around the subject of 5G Technology. I’ve been getting bombarded with information for it. What actually is this “5G” all about? Put simply, 5G is a next-generation wireless network that will give you much faster internet connections. But, because of the way it works, it’s about to change the way lots of other things connect to the internet, too, like cars and TVs, and even things like connected lights on city streets. More about this below.

In this Article

  • 5G in RETAIL
  • 5G in ENERGY

While smartphones and other mobile devices are the obvious use cases for 5G, there are many other applications for the technology. The internet of things (IoT), for example, will benefit tremendously from the speed and bandwidth provided by 5G, especially as the industry grows: Gartner estimates that over 20B IoT units will be installed by 2020, while IoT-related spending will reach nearly $3T. Autonomous vehicles, robotic surgery, and critical infrastructure monitoring are just a few of the potential applications of 5G-enabled IoT.

Industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and auto are already adopting technologies and becoming more connected. Once 5G becomes widespread, the effect on these industries could be transformative for 3 main reasons:

  1. 5G devices are lower latency, enabling faster transmission of larger data streams
  2. 5G devices are more reliable, enabling better transmission of data in extreme conditions
  3. 5G is more flexible than Wi-Fi and can support a wider range of devices, sensors, and wearables


Telemedicine is projected to grow to an $86B market by 2025.

Wearable devices are already being used to track everything from sleep to blood glucose levels to physical activity, among other things. 5G’s faster speeds and greater network reliability will allow for the development of more complex devices, including those implanted directly into a human body rather than worn externally.


One major potential improvement with 5G will be augmented reality for manufacturing. Ericsson began testing augmented reality troubleshooting in its Tallinn, Estonia factory in January 2018. With an AR app, technicians can observe a part that needs maintenance and pull up the relevant schematics and instructions within their field of vision, drastically shortening the time it takes to complete the repair.

A technician repairs a circuit board using an augmented reality overlay at Ericsson’s Tallinn factory. (Source: Ericsson)

Other industrial use cases for 5G (according to AT&T) include:

  • Continuously monitoring equipment performance
  • Robotic visual recognition that autonomously performs quality assurance on products
  • Enabling predictive analytics to tell when a part is going to fail


5G Automotive Association (5GAA), began work on “cellular-vehicle-to-everything” or C-V2X technology in 2016. Rather than cars determining individually how to act, in the C-V2X system, driverless vehicles communicate with one another and with parts of the physical environment like traffic lights and construction signs in order to coordinate movements safely and efficiently.


From in-store analytics to visual recognition-driven shelf monitoring, all depend on or benefit from the ability to transmit large amounts of data and access high-throughput connections, which is why 5G technology stands to have such a large impact on the way retailers operate.

Current “smart shelves” incorporating RFID technology, for example, can tell a business owner the ratio of item pick-ups to sales and display dynamic prices. With 5G technology, shelves equipped with sensors could determine low stock on a product, ping a distribution center to restock its inventory, and dynamically monitor the progress of that shipment.Today, companies like Sephora use virtual try-on technology to help in-store customers see what a particular makeup would look like on them before they buy, but the product is constricted by data streaming limits. 5G technology eliminates such limits.
5G also has the potential to create entirely new types of shopping experiences that would be unthinkable with today’s technology.


Download speeds will decrease dramatically over 5G, making movie, game, and TV downloads possible in seconds rather than minutes. This could propel a shift away from streaming and towards mobile downloads.

5G could have an even more transformative effect on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). VR and AR applications have a higher field of view, resolution, and frame rate than conventional media, and as such require a significantly higher level of bandwidth and lower level of latency in order to transmit a consistent experience to the viewer.Faster connectivity through 5G will also be revolutionary for the e-sports and gaming industry, where quick response times can often determine a player’s success. Mobile 5G gaming revenue is expected to be worth $100B by 2028, according to the Intel/Ovum report.


5G could help enable more cost-effective energy transmission. Faster connection speeds could result in energy grids being more efficiently managed, which, in turn, could lead to less downtime.

Streetlights connected with 5G technology and equipped with sensors could switch off if there aren’t any people or vehicles on the road, thus saving energy. This approach could lead to savings of up to $1B annually in the US, according to a report from Accenture.Verizon believes that the energy industry will be a key demonstration of 5G’s potential, with the company stating that the sector will be one of the “most significant test cases” for 5G technology.


5G will offer farmers the opportunity to get faster, more accurate information in the field. Companies such as SlantRange are already providing drone-services for farmers to gain insight into their crops. Autonomous tractors, for example, may eventually use 5G to pair with drones to guide their work, like identifying which parts of a field needs fertilizer.


Mobile payments could happen much faster and more reliably as multiple processes could be executed in parallel. 5G could also allow mobile apps to keep less data on devices — instead quickly recalling it from the cloud — resulting in lighter and more responsive apps.

AT&T, for example, is reportedly developing mobile branches for banks in the US, which will be connected using 5G technology. These mobile branches are envisioned as serving scenarios like music festivals, pop-up shops, and remote areas with low banking needs.


In a warehouse, for example, 5G-connected devices coupled with sensors would allow quicker communication, collection of a larger amount of data, and faster responses to breakdowns. One application of 5G tech in supply chains is tracking and tracing packaging or parts in real time. This ability to better track individual packages could also streamline insurance claims for damaged shipments. With 5G-enabled sensors attached to packages, it would be easier to monitor their status — including variables like temperature, moisture, and location — information that would help stakeholders identify where things went wrong and claim insurance accordingly.Autonomous delivery, which is already being tested by companies like DHL, is another area that could receive a boost from 5G connectivity.



Data travels through wires the majority of the time, with wireless antennas typically completing the last few miles of delivery. In this way, fibre functions as the nervous system to the mobile network. Fibre-optic infrastructure is prevalent today and used by current 4G systems, but more will be required to support widespread 5G.

Small Cell deployment

Much of today’s wireless data is delivered through macrocells, known more commonly as cell towers. They provide the foundation for wireless connectivity and can serve thousands of mobile users within a radius of up to 40 miles. Macrocells are difficult to deploy and maintain. The costs of regulatory approval, construction, power, and maintenance make traditional macrocell towers a necessary burden for wireless connectivity. Small cells (or microcells) are growing contributors to wireless connectivity, supporting the wireless systems of the present and future. They are much easier to install and maintain. They’re also cheaper, more energy efficient, and require less red tape than macrocells. 

Some of the newest small-cell technology is hidden in plain sight. In Los Angeles, small cells have been deployed as part of smart streetlights to strengthen 4G networks.

High-frequency Spectrum Availability

5G speeds also require radio waves with extremely high frequencies. Increasing demand for wireless coverage, speed, and consumption requires the use of new bands within the radio wave spectrum. Higher frequencies allow for faster data transmission, they’re unable to pass through certain structures. For example, satellite TV, which typically uses frequencies between 13-18 GHz, requires a direct line-of-sight to prevent disruptions. Heavy rainfall or an overgrown tree could impact viewing quality. For most 5G networks, the super high (3-30 GHz) and extremely high (30-300 GHz) bands will be used to deliver the Gbps speeds promised by wireless carriers. Frequencies between 24 GHz and 86 GHz will be particularly popular.

Fixed Wireless

High frequencies of 5G require a direct line-of-sight, “fixed wireless” will allow for cellular coverage within buildings and homes, without the use of cables or lines. Fixed wireless antennas are placed on top of homes and buildings to communicate with nearby small cells or macrocell towers. These fixed wireless antennas must maintain line-of-sight with the nearby cells, they are able to extend cellular coverage into homes and buildings. These antennas may be connected by fibre to internal picocells or femtocells, which are used to relay wireless coverage to a small number of mobile users indoors. The wireless signal can also be converted to conventional Wi-Fi with the use of specially designed modems and wifi routers.

Verizon, rolled out fixed 5G wireless services in a handful of cities in 2018. These services will provide an alternative to internet access delivered via fibre while maintaining comparable speeds. The company is partnering with Samsung for its fixed wireless 5G routers, which will convert wireless 5G signals and enable Wi-Fi compatibility.


  1. Cost. Providers will need to install a lot of new, and expensive infrastructure.
  2. Range. 5G often relies on high frequency waves to gain its speed advantages over 4G, but this also entails shorter wavelengths — reducing the distance that 5G can carry a useful signal. With 5G signals tending to travel relatively short distances, network providers will need to deploy more antennas and base stations to ensure broad coverage.
  3. Security and Privacy. Security researchers found shortcomings in 2018 in a 5G security protocol known as Authentication and Key Agreement (AKA) that in some cases could be used to steal sensitive information.


A list of publicly traded 5G stocks (Tuesday, Apr 14th, 2020)

What Is 5G? Understanding The Next-Gen Wireless System: CB Insights. (2020, March 19). Retrieved April 14, 2020, from https://www.cbinsights.com/research/5g-next-gen-wireless-system/?utm_source=CB+Insights+Newsletter&utm_campaign=68aeb32b7d-newsletter_general_Mon_20200413&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9dc0513989-68aeb32b7d-94168005