Covid-19 pandemic impact on 5G

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I got both shocked and entertained reading about the link between 5G and the corona virus. Even more shocking and less entertaining are the attacks on cell towers by anti-5G movement in the Netherlands and the UK at a time that (mobile) communication is more critical than ever.

Considering these, what will be the real impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the 5G?

Each shift in (mobile) technology starts with a hyped competition between vendors and operators of being the first, mostly against a background of limited consumer demand and no availability of end-user devices. Resistance also comes into play at this early technology adoption stage. We will see early adaptors will get their hands on the 5G devices, though this time the real take off by consumers might be constraint by the deteriorated economic situation.

Though for 5G (or eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broadband)) I believe the revolution will be driven by IoT applications and the success of 5G will depend on the adoption of IoT.  This is based on the 5G key differentiation of ultra low latency and improved QoS.

While the Covid-19 pandemic is creating a major drag on the global economy, it could help to accelerate the development and commercialization of emerging technologies like IoT.  Not only through smart health care inventions, like virtual doctors, patient wearables and remote elder care and monitoring.  

But IoT innovations can also benefit the online retailers by ways of tracking stock levels or more efficient logistics process.  Overall many people turned to digital solutions to gather some sense of normality amid social distancing.

Many factories that have invested in digital solutions in their manufacturing process are benefiting from remote operation and management amid the lock downs.  The business cases for innovations that drives further automation of processes and also reduce human-to-human contact has become more appealing.  Industrial IoT is a catalyst for further automation and process optimization. Beyond automation it offers also improvements in human-machine interfacing, logistics, warehousing and remote monitoring and management.  Covid-19 lock-down could accelerate Industry 4.0 and add an extra kick start to IoT and 5G.

IoT and 5G will revolutionize the world around us and help to solve business challenges and change lives. The Covid-19 pandemic might have further accelerate this revolution.  

Maybe one way to silence the anti-5G (‘x’G) movements is to move away from these ‘G’ synonyms.  Consumers aren’t really bothered which ‘G’ is serving them, only expecting the capabilities of the network fulfill their device capabilities. 

For the attacked cell towers even more true as the biggest change in 5G for operators is not in the Radio Access Network (RAN) but in the core network (from EPC to 5GC), and the most radio frequencies have been in use already during previous ‘G’ releases or WiFi.