It has been a week since I was in San Francisco for Mobile World Congress Americas 2017. In the keynote session on the first day, Meredith Baker, president of the CTIA, took the stage to talk about 5G and its many saving graces. For one, she explained that “5G will make every industry and every part of our lives better.” That seems very plausible considering the fact that 5G is 100 times faster, supports 100 times the number of devices and is five times as responsive as 4G.
To put it into context, 5G will introduce entirely new immersive forms of education. So we’ll be living in a world where field trips won’t need permission slips or long bus rides – they can happen easily, instantly, and virtually (although our children will miss the fresh air).
But in light of some of the recent hurricanes that have hit – and devastated – Texas and Florida, Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC, reminded the audience that “wireless connectivity was a lifeline for people affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Many were found because of wireless calls, like the 14-year-old girl who asked Siri on her iPhone to call the Coast Guard.” This is a very interesting point and one that may not always get the most attention when it comes to discussions about 5G. But it’s extremely important. As Ajit Pai said, “For public safety, wireless communications are critically important in the recovery process.” I agree and would suggest that St. Martin and other islands hardest hit could be the first to take advantage of 5G as they rebuild their infrastructure.
The key to making 5G’s benefits a reality will, of course, come down to how well devices perform on the new network. According to GSMA’s 2017 Global Mobile Trends Report, early 5G deployments will focus primarily on high-bandwidth applications as an extension to 4G, notably 4K ultra-HD video and VR/AR apps. But as our Q2 2017 State of Mobile Device Performance and Health Report noted, crashing apps are a common reality in today’s 4G world. So I can only imagine that apps may initially experience some lags and crash when 5G is first launched.
It is hard to predict the innovations that will arise from 5G. What impact will having faster internet from your tethered phone then get from your office network? IT administrators could lose control of the gateway where many critical security measures are enforced. Employees will be able to move and send large files faster to the cloud than to local storage servers.
5G is going to unleash a myriad of security issues, not least among them controlling data flows. This is something data governance and compliance professionals should start thinking about today.