Considering how much has changed in the last five years, imagine what’s in store for the IoT (Internet of Things) during the next five years. One change to look forward to is 5G, the fifth generation of wireless technology. Projections suggest 5G will be the fastest generation to roll out globally. With the widespread rollout of 5G, what applications will innovative companies come up with that will enhance life and business in our connected world?

The June 2019 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report expects more than 10 million 5G subscriptions worldwide by the end of 2019. The report further suggests 5G subscriptions will reach 1.9 billion by the end of 2024 thanks to operators’ increased efforts to deploy 5G networks and users’ eagerness to adopt 5G devices. Interestingly, in this latest edition of the Mobility Report, Ericsson upped its projection by about 27% over its November 2018 edition, which predicted 1.5 billion 5G subscriptions by 2024. Ericsson further predicts that in five years’ time, 35% of traffic will be carried by 5G networks, and up to 65% of the global population could be covered by the technology. Regionally, 5G subscription growth is expected to be the fastest in North America, followed by Northeast Asia and Europe.

In sectors like manufacturing, 5G could prompt the industry’s largest and most impressive transformation yet. Companies like AT&T are saying 5G will drive the factories of tomorrow, delivering critical realtime data, which can lead to operational intelligence and operational efficiencies. Smart, sensor-filled factories will monitor everything about themselves—from where certain tools are located to how and when employees are using various machines. 5G’s low latency will support such applications in manufacturing, as well as in retail, healthcare, transportation, and beyond.

5G will also enable exciting new applications in the logistics space. For instance, in other AT&T 5G news, the company recently announced it’s collaborating with Uber to explore how LTE (long-term evolution) and, eventually, 5G could help enable next-gen cargo drones and eVTOLs (electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles). The companies point to ridesharing as being a defining mobile application of the 4G era and present the idea that air taxis and drones could become a “signature use case” for 5G.

Elevate, Uber’s air mobility business unit, is exploring the possibilities associated with short-range air travel and logistics, and the company says it strives to launch its aerial ridesharing service in 2023. During the first phase of the AT&T/Uber collaboration, the companies report their teams will focus on assessing and enabling 4G and 5G connectivity for piloted aircraft and autonomous cargo drones operating in low-altitude airspace.

From smart factories to autonomous cargo drones, 5G’s unique characteristics could create opportunities for all industries to revolutionize aspects of their businesses. The stage for 5G is being set now. 5G is on the horizon, and companies like Ericsson say the horizon may be closer than some think, while others say 5G is here now. The discrepancy may be a result of various stakeholders’ definitions of “here” being different, but whether it’s next year or in 10 years, what does generally draw a consensus is that 5G will impact industries, and it will open doors for new, exciting, and game-changing enterprise applications.

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