The roll out of 5G networks
is underway, yet dbDig primary research shows US smartphone users are relatively ambivalent. The issue is
that unlike the 3G and 4G roll-outs, there is no ‘killer application’ for 5G smartphones yet. But 5G’s
biggest effects could be outside smartphones. It will enable predictive maintenance on cars, virtual
reality films, autonomous cars, and other Smart City applications. And that is before considering the
industrial Smart Factory applications that are already being built. In fact, the consumer internet
industry will likely be a ‘late cycle’ beneficiary of 5G and we note that equity investors took time to
warm to 3G and 4G.
Siemens case study
At the forefront of 5G’s
application to the Industrial Internet of Things is Siemens and its cloud-based MindSphere system.
Integrating the 5G network into this system will make it possible to capture the data generated by one
million sensors per square kilometre in factory complexes. To gain first-mover advantage, some clients
are already adjusting their factories with a view to incorporating wireless robots that can move around a
production line. The goal is a complex that can operate itself, learn and integrate with suppliers. It
also enables ‘digital twins’ to provide predictive maintenance information directly to consumers.
The politics of 5G
In the middle of the geopolitical battleground between
the US and China is 5G, and particularly Huawei. While the rhetoric has oscillated between hard and soft,
both countries are considering how to build out industries that have been hit with restrictions, or are
at risk. At the same time, the international clout of the US, and the increasing influence of China
through its Belt and Road Initiative, have left other countries caught up in the dispute. Many are
wrestling with the issue of how to take a side, or avoid it completely. But the issue is just as much
about economics as geopolitics.
Europe needs to expand its digital
Europe significantly lags the US when it comes to digital infrastructure and
targets have been missed. It also sits behind China which is progressing with its “made in China 2025”
strategy. The risk for Europe is that this underperformance becomes self-reinforcing as companies look
elsewhere to invest. Compounding Europe’s problems is the notable divergence in the digital
infrastructure between different countries. We look at some of the reasons for this underperformance and
posit some solutions. Given the government investment required, the final result will depend on political
As 5G makes the world even more
connected, there is a growing awareness that distractions are bad for the economy. In fact, slower
productivity growth and GDP in developed countries has coincided with the rise of email and smartphones.
Indeed, some suggest the US economy loses $1tn each year due to too much information and interruption.
Feeding into the economic impact is the realisation of the mental health implications of
over-communication. For example, studies show that people who are forced to work without email report
increased collaboration with colleagues, significantly less stress, and, importantly, feel far more
Peak speed and economic growth
The increased speed of
communications has usually gone hand-in-hand with economic growth. But even though large quantities of
information can now be sent instantly around the world, it does not mean slower growth. That is because
the latest technology is allowing an unprecedented spread of communications. In particular, that is
directly leading to increased education rates in developing countries. In fact, if current increases in
education rates continue, the 200m additional educated workers that enter the workforce over the next
three decades will compensate for most of the expected decline in the workforce in the more-developed
world due to demographic problems.
Satellite vs streaming
SpaceX is rapidly reducing the cost of launching a satellite into orbit. That is helpful for the
traditional television industry as it deals with competition from streaming services. It is true that
streaming is becoming cheaper. Indeed, if cost deflation continues at its current rate, a majority of
global channels will be better off going online-only by the end of next year. The proportion is the
highest in Europe. But still, satellite has its place. It is still the best way to access the greatest
number of subscribers, the quality is easier to guarantee, and piracy concerns are lessened.
The emerging market technology skip
Our recent trek in the Indian Himalayas showed
what an impact new communications technology is having on a huge swathe of the population that has, until
recently, been largely excluded from the global economy. Smartphones have been the ‘technology skip’ –
they are cheap and run on new, fast networks. They enable micro-entrepreneurship without the need for
other, more expensive computing equipment. But despite there being a billion eyeballs now watching
screens in India, the path towards monetising that viewership is diverging from that in developed
markets. Content still needs to remain free or low-cost, making advertising key – a huge challenge for
broadcasters and content owners.
The ‘golden age’ of television and its uncertain
Our present day has been described as the ‘golden age’ of television with huge amounts
of money being invested in original content by providers with very deep pockets. Some worry that 5G will
stimulate even more competition and cause spectacular failures. But traditional television habits are
changing and new models are emerging. As today’s market fragments, more content providers are able to
target specific audiences and still remain viable. In addition, both traditional cable and free-to-air
networks are investing heavily in data and analytics to evolve their advertising models. Rather than
being something to fear, new business models should be seen as an opportunity.
Who wants to live in a Smart City?
It is an intriguing paradox that while better data use
can unquestionably improve people’s lives, citizens are pushing back against their data being used by
companies and governments. That has led to several Smart City projects, which will be reliant on 5G
networks, to be delayed. That is just one of many reasons why pre-planned Smart Cities may have to be
built from scratch. But if that happens, some worry the ‘gilded cities’ will widen the inequality gap.
Yet, the technology-skill complementarity that has boosted top-end wages may weaken as several
extraordinary one-off factors that have hurt low-paid workers in developed markets have recently
The future of news
Two decades ago, newspaper editors were
told the internet age meant they had to give away content for free, create click-bait, and support it all
with any advertising they could find. It hasn’t turned out that way. Fears of fake news, the shift to
quality, and the lack of patience for distraction has led to growing numbers of subscribers at some of
the world’s best-known mastheads. Yet, the shift is not complete. Communications and 5G technology are
likely to have five impacts on the news media: the return of regional reporting with new funding models,
less focus on speed, a reduction in the number of news sources people read, the acceptance of automation,
and the return of television news, in a curated format.
life.PDF > > >How 5G will change your life > > > >Who wants to live in a Smart City? > >It is an intriguing paradox that while better
data use can >unquestionably improve people’s lives, citizens are pushing >back against
their data being used by companies and >governments. That has led to several Smart City
projects, >which will be reliant on 5G networks, to be delayed. That is >just one of many
reasons why pre-planned Smart Cities may have >to be built from scratch. But if that happens,
some worry the >‘gilded cities’ will widen the inequality gap. Yet, the >technology-skill
complementarity that has boosted top-end >wages may weaken as several extraordinary one-off
factors that >have hurt low-paid workers in developed markets have recently >diminished. > > > >The future of news > >Two
decades ago, newspaper editors were told the internet age >meant they had to give away content
for free, create >click-bait, and support it all with any advertising they could >find.
It hasn’t turned out that way. Fears of fake news, the >shift to quality, and the lack of
patience for distraction has >led to growing numbers of subscribers at some of the world’s >best-known mastheads. Yet, the shift is not complete. >Communications and 5G technology are
likely to have five >impacts on the news media: the return of regional reporting >with
new funding models, less focus on speed, a reduction in >the number of news sources people read,
the acceptance of >automation, and the return of television news, in a curated >format.
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