By Matthew Weinberg

For the last few years, there has been a great deal of talk about 5G. Estimates about lightning fast speeds and transformative technologies were exciting but hard to conceptualize. Then last year we started to see the first announcements from wireless providers about where and when 5G would be initially rolled out. Now, 2019 seems to be the year where 5G is starting to “turn on” and the much talked about promises of what the next generation of connected technology will bring is in reach.

So, what’s in store?

By the Numbers

According to a new report by Ericsson, a leading provider of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that services about 40 percent of the world’s mobile traffic, 5G subscriptions will soar to 1.9 billion in 2024. The Ericsson Mobility Report, released this month, has revised predictions up 27 percent from a November 2018 estimate of 1.5 billion. It also forecasts that 45 percent of the world will have access to 5G wireless networks in 2024. As the infrastructure necessary to implement and activate 5G networks continues to expand, the opportunities for populations to harness the power of this new technology will become much more prevalent.

Understanding this Wireless Revolution

As excitement and expectation builds, many are unclear about the powerful potential 5G has to change our lives. To help educate people on the vast possibilities, I launched “Faces of 5G,” which offers a glimpse of what a 5G future could look like. The project features stories from real people who recognize the potential for 5G and how it could improve what they do and how they do it.

With significantly faster speeds, improved responsiveness, and greater capacity, 5G will help create more efficient, enhanced, and inclusive solutions to a variety of challenges. Here are just a few fields that could be on the rise thanks to the power of 5G.

Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups

Access to 5G means companies will be able to dream bigger and accomplish goals faster than ever before. Just ask Candice Matthews Brackeen of Hillman Accelerator. Hillman Accelerator supports women and minority led tech companies in Cincinnati, Ohio with access to the education, seed funding, mentorship, and the network necessary to excel.

Many of these companies are using advanced algorithms and AI. For them, the real-time exchange of information – which 5G will help bring – is essential to achieving their goals. 

Virtual Reality

The low latency and increased reliability of 5G will help take virtual reality applications to the next level. To get more insight on this point, I talked with Elizabeth Reede at Boulevard, which is a company that brings art to life through the use of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. The platform allows people across the U.S. to tour museums and exhibits without stepping a foot outside – a great tool for schools, especially those in underserved communities, as it could give students experiences they may not otherwise get.

The company wants to provide instantaneous, real time engagement with its users and believes they’d be hindered in their ability to achieve that without 5G.

The enhancements to VR that go hand-in-hand with 5G will also help to make our communities safer. Street Smarts VR is a virtual simulation training program that puts first responders in real life scenarios that simulate interactions they’ll encounter on the job. 5G has the potential to not only make these trainings more effective, but also to allow for better communication in the field, resulting in better outcomes.

Smart Cities

5G will be paramount to powering a better future in urban areas. This revolutionary technology could assist in everything from smart parking, crowd management, and even traffic patterns. 5G can also help cities lower the financing costs of transit system investments by using real-time data for resource management and monitoring.

More than an Upgrade

5G is more than a small improvement to our devices, it is a seismic shift, helping to build a better future. Clayton Banks at Silicon Harlem explains why in this video. Right now, Silicon Harlem is part of an effort to build the largest 5G testbed in the U.S. to help give citizens in Upper Manhattan access to cutting edge connectivity.

But this is all just the start. The power of 5G is set to help sustain innovation and creativity in ways we cannot even imagine yet.

Matt Weinberg, who is leading a newly launched project called Faces of 5G, is a Principal at Max Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm in New York. Previously, he was a White House appointee and served as Senior Advisor in the Office of Investment and Innovation during the Obama Administration. He helped drive federal programs that directed over $6 billion in capital to investment funds, early-stage technology companies, and accelerators and incubators across the country. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Matt worked for the New York City Economic Development Corporation and managed city-wide programs aimed at developing and supporting the City’s technology and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Matt is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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