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Social Benefits and Business Potential of 5G


One of 5G’s most important features is undoubtedly the reduction in the amount of data lost during transmissions, as a result of which there is a strong confidence in this technology. The European Commission has quantified the potential socio-economic benefits of the introduction of 5G collaboration in 113 billion euros per year by 2025, all generated by an organizational model that “dematerialises” the worker by strengthening productivity and autonomy.[1]

On the other hand, it’s hard to predict precisely how each industry will react to the hyper-connectivity brought by the 5G implementation, but it’s safe to say that businesses will need to equip themselves with the right tools. This is the case of e-commerce, where customers’ journeys are beginning to change from start to finish. From witnessing the first holographic calls over the 5G internet, we now see WiFi-enabled laptops being replaced by 5G-enabled smartphones and tablets. Companies around the world are also increasingly betting on many factory improvement projects; with a predicted adoption rate of 47 percent by 2025,[2] leveraging Wave 5G in manufacturing will be critical to driving economic growth. Given the high return on investment, China’s commitment to triple the number of industrial machines connecting to the Internet to more than 300 million units by 2024 is more relevant than ever.[3]

Another example of growth in investments related to the 5G network is the smart home business where Allianz Partners have recently stepped into, together with their partner China mobile, hoping to dig down into household data to devise a realm of possibilities. A concrete example of a leading insurer breaking down the boundaries of its core business to start building houses that will host fully immersive and interactive virtual entertainment and educational experiences. Together, they started picturing what a smart home will look like in 2040. They hope to turn homes into energy-optimised 3D printing centers for people to make items in-house, further predicting that living with robots will be the norm, as they will take on many daily domestic activities and provide company to their owners.[4]

Also, the payment infrastructure is being transformed to become faster and more inclusive for new players thanks to 5G networks. People are already used to non-cash transactions and seamless payments and have ever-growing expectations for secure methods of paying for any product or service. The sheer speed and performance of 5G will allow us to instantly make digital payments from a variety of devices – including the likes of wearables and connected devices – meaning one can buy just about anything, from wherever they happen to be. A purchase can be completed with a single click, tap, voice command, or gesture.[5] 5G will also speed up in-store payment experiences, making lines move faster and allowing retailers to effectively ‘untether the point-of-sale.’ In the 5G era all merchants, consumers, smart connected devices and other players will increasingly link together in real-time, with no lags, jitters, drops in connection, timeout errors or other connection issues.

Ericsson points out that a secure 5G architecture is built on system design principles and implementation considerations stemming from a holistic and risk-based mindset.[6] That’s where trustworthiness originates and how we can have a system that meets the requirements of the vast majority of end users, service providers and regulatory bodies. Therefore, the existing network architecture will have to be redesigned by adopting a multi-stakeholder analytical approach. This does not necessarily mean we ought to replace the current security model, but rather take into consideration a more dynamic and flexible security architecture. Not to forget that the full scope of security, privacy and resilience spans far beyond technology: it will ultimately impact legal frameworks, regulation and actions by commercial entities and individuals.

And in light of recent concerns about health-related effects possibly linked to 5G, a thorough review of all the existing scientific literature by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) found no established health risks to human beings due to using mobile phones or living near 5G cellular base stations.[7] Some countries where the legislation is particularly restrictive, such as Italy, even apply additional precautionary factors to those suggested by the EU, with Telcos striving to demonstrate the compliance of their networks and develop new features to keep radio frequency power below the set threshold no matter the scenario. The World Health Organization, whose future research will be aimed at health protection from possible long-term effects, also encourages such close monitoring.

As a fully connected digital society fueled by 5G comes ever closer to becoming a reality, here at Capgemini we cannot take our foot off the accelerator. As we increase the value at stake for our clients leveraging on our skills, experience and partnerships with the world of Telco, the journey always starts with increasing internal risk tolerance and daring to collaborate. We also need the continued commitment of business, policy makers and national authorities to build new business and trust models.

The sky seems to be the limit for accommodating even more exceptional requests and building customization capabilities for different industries, that’s why network providers call for an acceleration of both the construction of 5G networks and the layout of the infrastructure, as well as the development of 5G SA core networks supporting network slicing capabilities, network customization and capability opening for applications in different industries. Carriers are expressing the need for flexible policies, including those related to spectrum and infrastructure, further replacing old equipment and opting for components that have longer useful lives.

[1] Tutti i benefici del 5G a favore di imprese e cittadini. Report I-Com, Formiche, May 2018.
[2] GSMA: China Maintains 5G Leadership Role in the Face of COVID-19, GSMA, March 2020.
[3] China And COVID-19: A Lift For 5-G?, Forbes, February 2020.
[4] Allianz Partners bullish on smart home industry in China, China Daily, November 2019.
[5] Five payment trends that decide the future of payments, Capgemini Invent, May 2019.
[6] 5G security – enabling a trustworthy 5G system, Ericsson, March 2018-January 2020.
[7] RF EMF Guidelines 2020, ICNIRP, March 2020.

The article was drafted by Alessandro PugliaSara Ciccardi and Francesca Meliffi.