New Technologies

Intro to 5G: Use Cases and Economic Impact

Let’s take a look at two industries first in line to be revolutionized by 5G: auto and healthcare.

As we continue on our journey to understand 5G, we can start to anticipate the ways in which it will impact both industry and economy. Will anything really change? Will it just improve existing technology? Will it create entirely new products, services, and solutions we’ve never considered? Will it give consumers AR/VR opportunities beyond Pokémon Go?

All and more are true. As explained by “The Role and Potential of 5G for IoT” from Frost & Sullivan: “According to the World Bank, a 10% increase in Internet connection speed translates into economic growth of approximately 1.3%.” And it’s expected that 5G could be one hundred times faster than 4G. But instead of postulating on all that could be, let’s take a look at two industries first in line to be revolutionized by 5G: auto and healthcare.

Connected Cars

Cars have made leaps and bounds since the idea of a horseless carriage first emerged. They have always been ripe for technological opportunity, though some last (seat belts, anyone?) and some don’t (RIP car phones). In many ways, connected cars are already among us - GM’s OnStar was released in 1996 and literally saved lives with its connected communication subscription service, which allowed for GPS location tracking and in-vehicle communication.

All this to say that the concept of a connected car is nothing new. What is new is how we’re defining “connected” with 5G. 3GPP has established a basic foundation for vehicle connectedness with its Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (aka C-V2X) standard that not only supports the future of connected cars, but also allows for backwards compatibility. C-V2X’s powerful range exceeds a mile, even in areas where there are no mobile connections available, and is able to operate without network assistance. The standard has two modes of operation: device-to-device and device-to-network.

Device-to-device supports communication scenarios like vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P). These kinds of communication capabilities open up not just connected cars, but connected roadways through innovations like collision avoidance, traffic signal priority/timing, and safety alerts to pedestrians and cyclists.

Device-to-network supports vehicle-to-network (V2N) communication via cellular networks, which means that cloud services would be included in these end-to-end solutions, as well as real time traffic reporting and routing. With a connection to a cellular network, vehicles themselves can be connected to streaming.

Per the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) Director General Dino Flore, below are some use cases you can anticipate with connected vehicles:

  • Left Turn Assist: Alerts are given to the driver as they attempt an unprotected left turn across traffic, to help them avoid crashes with opposite direction traffic
  • Intersection Movement Assist: Informs the driver when it is not safe to enter an intersection—for example, when something is blocking the driver’s view of opposing or crossing traffic
  • See-Through: Provides ability for vehicles such as trucks, minivans, cars in platoons to share camera images of road conditions ahead of them to vehicles behind them
  • Vulnerable Road User Discovery: Provides ability to identify potential safety conditions due to the presence of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists


Healthcare/medicine is another vertical in which we’ve seen tangible strides - in fact, we’ve made more progress in healthcare in the last century than we have in all previous history. The New York Times has an excellent article - “The Strides of Medicine, and Their Price” - that highlights the role of technology in modern medicine. Surgery on the brain and heart can be performed through the narrowest incision with a laser, and a respirator can even do a patient’s breathing for them. Connected healthcare is actually already in practice - doctors can send their patients home with wireless blood pressure cuffs that send data back to the medical providers to better control hypertension. 

If we’re already doing that with 4G, what’s 5G capable of?

According to our friends Frost & Sullivan, 5G’s ultra reliability and low latency will allow for use cases like, “live transmission of high-definition surgery videos that can be remotely monitored.” Surgeons will be able to watch and provide feedback on live surgeries in real time without fear of poor connection or delay.

This virtual lack of latency coupled with multi-access edge computing and layered under multisensory technologies can even open a world where doctors can perform surgeries from an entirely different hospital than where the patient is, aiding those who may otherwise not receive the care they need. The ability to remotely serve isn’t just reserved for high-risk surgeries, though. Telehealth is a major trend on the healthcare horizon, and 5G enhanced mobile broadband technology (eMBB - the first commercial deployment of 5G) creates opportunities for simulated reality and live streaming. Long waits in doctors offices with nothing but an old Highlights magazine could soon be an irritation of the past.

In Conclusion

Though 5G may seem like a daunting technology that enables a still-far-away future, hopefully these use cases demonstrated the very real and practical applications of this exciting new frontier. However, connected cars and healthcare are only two of the many fields that will be revolutionized by the seamless connectivity of 5G.


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