Vecta Labs News

What are the Killer Apps for 5G?: Part 1

What are the killer applications for 5G? 

A quick internet search on this topic returns hundreds of articles speculating endlessly about the possibilities: highways filled with autonomous vehicles, smart factories run by armies of robots, business meetings hosted in the metaverse, and drones delivering pizzas to your front door.

You may also find some less-than-positive perspectives from people who feel slightly underwhelmed by their first 5G smartphone.  A common refrain is that 5G is “just a slightly faster version of 4G”.  Where is the next Uber, they ask, or the next Google Maps, Instagram or Airbnb?

To try and answer this question, Vecta has done a deep dive into the world of 5G and compiled a shortlist of three emerging 5G-based technologies that have the potential to create significant value across many sectors of the economy.  In this article we present a brief overview of these candidate “killer apps” and explain why we believe they will be so consequential.

The three use cases we have identified span a variety of market segments and end users.  However, they all have one thing in common, in that they all depend on the high bandwidth, low latency, massive capacity, ubiquitous coverage and high reliability that only 5G networks can provide.

Killer App #1:  Private 5G Networks

One application of 5G that has been attracting a great deal of interest recently is private 5G networks.  These are 5G cellular networks that are partly or fully owned by private organisations rather than mobile network operators.  They are often touted as an alternative to traditional corporate Wi-Fi networks, especially for organisations that have to support very large numbers of users and devices.

Advantages of private 5G networks include faster transmission speeds, better coverage, higher reliability, lower latency, stronger security, and greater ease of administration & maintenance [1].  They can also hand-off seamlessly to public cellular networks if a device moves out of range of the private 5G network.

Many different configurations of private 5G networks are possible. At one extreme is the fully private 5G network, in which the organisation owns the wireless spectrum and all of the network infrastructure. At the other extreme is the neutral host, a private 5G network owned by a third party provider who leases capacity to organisations requiring additional network connectivity.  In between these two extremes is a range of hybrid models, in which ownership of different parts of the network is divided between the organisation and the mobile network operator.

The target markets for private 5G networks include hospitals, educational institutions, sports stadiums, shopping centres and warehouses [2]. Private 5G networks will also form one of the cornerstones of so-called smart factories, which are heavily reliant on network-centric technologies like robotics, automatic guided vehicles, predictive maintenance, augmented reality and digital twins [3].

Part 2 is coming soon.