5G is here and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
With working from home becoming the ‘new normal’ due to COVID-19 – at least in the short term – being better connected via this next generation of wireless technology has become crucial to organizations. To get a little more perspective on 5G and how it’s expected to make an impact on the corporate world, The Edge Magazine sat down with 5G experts Andy Brady, Vice President, and Arvin Singh, Vice President of Connected Solutions, from Verizon and their partners Adam Stanley, CIO and Chief Digital Officer, and Rob Franch, Chief Technology Officer, from Cushman & Wakefield. They covered everything from why 5G matters to how it will impact the occupant experience to how it is expected to play a part in a post-COVID-19 world.
What is 5G Exactly and Why Does it Matter?
Arvin Singh, Verizon: 5G is the next generation of wireless technology. It’s not intended to replace 4G, but rather, to enable a whole new set of possibilities. It was designed to usher in the “connected everything” era. 1G brought analog voice to the world, 2G brought digital voice and text messaging capabilities, 3G put our mobile devices on the web, 4G offered video streaming possibilities on the mobile device and it enabled new business models such as food delivery apps, and 5G was designed with the premise of delivering unprecedented evolution and transformation beyond our imagination.
Andy Brady, Verizon: With global mobile data traffic expected to grow eight times by the end of 2023, we knew we needed more efficient technology, higher data rates and spectrum utilization. With the speed and performance of 5G, you have a powerful, game-changing platform for innovation. From throughput to reliability, 5G can bring endless new opportunities for people, society and business.
How will 5G Impact CRE and What do Companies Need to Know?
Rob Franch, Cushman & Wakefield: As we learn more about 5G’s capabilities, we are increasingly looking at opportunities within the Internet of Things (IoT) realm, especially as it pertains to sensors, buildings and our ability to monitor different data points around any given building. The sheer number of sensors and the amount of data is exponentially growing and 5G allows us to capture that data in real time so that we can build smarter analytics around it. The potential in this area is huge. Another area 5G will directly impact in a positive way is the smart city space. As more progressive cities like New York City, Amsterdam and Singapore start adopting 5G strategies going forward, generating vast quantities of data on an hourly basis, we should see shorter wait times at traffic lights, less water waste, drivers being guided to available parking spaces, bins that report when they need emptying and more. And these areas are only going to evolve and grow as 5G becomes more available across these municipalities.
Adam Stanley, Cushman & Wakefield: One of the drivers of true technological change will be 5G’s ultra-low latency, which is the time it takes data to travel from the user to the central processor and back again, bringing data transit speed to many times less than the blink of an eye. All kinds of new applications become possible for companies like ours once you reach very low levels of latency, including robotics, autonomous vehicles, connected video, cognitive insights, immersive extended reality (XR) and combining augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR).
Andy Brady: E-learning provides an example. Training documents will be able to track where employees are in real time on their training journey. And from background check to logistics, onboarding a new employee could be seamless and totally interconnected. From the technology side, we know how we are building 5G, but how it’s going to be implemented is dependent upon all of the great ideas of companies like yours. It’s a great place to be right now. We don’t even know what we don’t know and that’s exciting in and of itself.
How Will 5G Impact the Occupant Experience and Workplace Productivity?
Arvin Singh: Employees are getting used to and want the ability to work from anywhere. The next generation of buildings will require a very connected workplace wherein the user has the ability to move seamlessly while sustaining high-performance connectivity. That will just have to be the norm.
Adam Stanley: Online audio calls, video conferencing, cloud-based collaboration, and other activities that consume a lot of data should become much faster. And the resulting impact on the employee experience will be significant. In addition, 5G can make remote working more accessible than ever before. Today, there’s always a risk of a glitch during a video call, an email getting delayed, or remote attendance tools malfunctioning due to poor network coverage. These issues should be less of an issue in the 5G era. Remote employees should feel more connected to their on-premise peers – and there will be an increase in the number of fully distributed workforces.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Working from Home (WFH) may Become a Beset Practice – at Least or the Foreseeable Future. How will 5G Impact this?
Andy Brady: Our infrastructure is designed to handle the 119 million customers we currently have, and we’ve seen a huge uptick in call volumes to date. In fact, calls have been lasting twice as long. Our 4G LTE is structurally sound enough to handle this new normal, and we are focused on building our 5G network to handle it that much better going forward. I’m confident that our 5G network will allow employees to extend their offices to their homes basically seamlessly in a post-COVID-19 world.
Rob Franch: In this new working-from-home world, connectivity is everything. We are always looking at ways to optimize our networks and to ensure our colleagues are as productive as they can be. 5G has the potential to be a more flexible option than the standard connectivity we’ve been reliant on for the last several years and we look forward to exploring all of our possibilities when it comes to this new technology.
What will Happen in the Next Five Years?
Arvin Singh: 5G is here and becoming increasingly available. It’s a purpose-built technology designed to enable those cases that really demand high speed, high capacity and low latency. Over the next five years, it should scale over time as industries transform due to new capabilities brought on by 5G. Examples include the ability to download a full-length HD movie in seconds, the quick reaction time to enable remote robotics, and battery lifetimes extending beyond 10 years for remote cellular devices.
How is Verizon and Cushman & Wakefield Working Together Seamlessly Bring 5G to its Customers?
Arvin Singh: Through our partnership, we are seeing potential for new business models as well. With high speed connected buildings in place, owners and investors could potentially be offering premium connectivity to tenants in buildings going forward. And some of the smart building enhancements like security monitoring could also lead to new offerings. These are the types of things that could change the economics of the investments you make in a traditional building, really adding long-term value.
Rob Franch: Our technology partners like Verizon help us find the best ways to drive value to our colleagues and our clients. In the 5G space, Verizon has built a strong network and they know what it is capable of doing. Our partnership allows us to strategize how to bring the art of the possible from Verizon 5G to our colleagues and our clients.