The transformation from analog 1G to digital 2G made text messages a reality, and 3G enabled data services. As far as 4G is concerned, it made the mobile internet a practical reality. It has become a norm that faster speeds are given with a new mobile standard. Likewise, the shift to 5G will deliver superior performance and greater efficiency. 5G will provide faster speed, lower latency, and connect a very high density of sensors. 5G will offer a high-performance wireless infrastructure that makes it easier to modify factory layouts and connect all sensors and machinery with near real-time connectivity. These characteristics will make mobile networks reliable enough to support mission-critical systems and enable revolutionary bandwidth and latency-sensitive applications like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Extended Reality (XR), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Intelligent Video Analytics (IVA), and, Artificial Intelligence (AI).
AI and 5G are two disruptive technologies set to become the engines of a new technological revolution. The most exciting application for 5G, AI, is expected to put forth many exciting and unique use cases which will create new revenue streams. AI has already been integrated into networks to reduce capital expenditure, optimize network performance and generate new revenue streams. It is now expected that 5G enables AI by providing high-quality, cost-effective, and reliable connectivity leveraging edge computing. 5G and AI have excellent individual capability across numerous verticals. AI and 5G, both individually, are revolutionizing industries and enabling new experiences. Their combination is expected to be transformative and will support each other in accelerating their adoption. AI will have a huge impact on several important 5G network management areas, like enhanced service quality, simplified deployment, higher network efficiency, and improved network security.
The promising use cases for 5G and AI together are limitless. The most prominent place where AI and 5G can already work together is in smartphones. Today, most of smartphones’ 5G and AI capabilities revolve around the camera, photos filters, or AR applications like Snapchat. For example, the Google Photos app combines the power of 5G and AI cloud and improves the sorting and recognition of objects as the photos get uploaded on a real-time basis. Also, the current use of these technologies within the voice assistants sphere has improved the speed of speech-to-text and verbal search queries. This is expected to get faster, responsive, and more powerful with the low latency and high speed of 5G.
The automotive industry is also speculating big on 5G connectivity and its potential when combined with AI. Today, every major car manufacturer has developed its own autonomous vehicle virtually. Some manufacturers are already testing self-driving vehicles. These autonomous vehicles rely on sensors to detect their surroundings continuously. They first identify and classify the information (perception), followed by acting on the information through autonomous vehicle control.
AI is expected to become an essential component in managing data communications, critical for efficient power generation and consumption. This could be a possible application for AI and 5G, although the energy sector appears to be following a moderate adoption of 5G because utilities’ unwillingness to test new technologies.
The use of sensor technology, like in the energy sector, is already being adopted in the agriculture sector through IoT devices that enable the farmers to better measure significant factors such as moisture, fertilization, control pests, and weather patterns.
AI in healthcare offers new approaches to solve health challenges. The combination of fast data speeds and AI could improve healthcare quality, particularly when AI is used to detect diseases or reduce costs. Other applications in healthcare that would require highspeed connectivity include remote-control surgery, real-time remote monitoring, and downloading large data files, as the healthcare industry generates a massive amount of data daily.
In the education sector, the dual combination of 5G and AI is making education through virtual reality possible. This requires high bandwidth and low latency for optimal performance. Reduced download speeds with 5G can free teachers to use their time in other areas. IoT devices can also be used to automate administrative tasks.
5G and AI are both mutual enablers. 5G provides the infrastructure massive amounts of data required for successful AI. These will enable companies to grow on the growth wave, keeping their investors, customers, and employees happy.
The author is Country Head – India & Regional Vice President South Asia at Mavenir.