5G is an essential issue for improving the competitiveness of businesses and the development of innovation in the region. It must offer an excellent user experience, thanks to high speed and connectivity. In France, the deployment of 5G is progressing rapidly. According to data from ARCEP (Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts) on January 31, 1,600 sites on the 3.5 GHz band, the “core band” of 5G, were opened commercially in the region. ‘Hexagon, against 1,200 at the end of 2020.
In times of uncertainty, such as during successive lockdowns and curfews imposed by the need to contain the pandemic, the possibility of accessing a service such as 5G is of major importance.
At the start of the pandemic, the streaming platform providers unanimously proposed to reduce their speed in order to prevent networks from saturating due to too sudden demand due to the global switch to teleworking. However, if the precaution was in order, the networks in general did not undergo major failure. At the individual level, however, latencies and slowdowns could be felt within households. Indeed, with the first confinements, a family of four working and studying on a standard Wi-Fi connection, could potentially saturate the network. Immediately, users started looking for better and faster Internet service. The “best” option not being available everywhere, some have therefore resorted to several networks within the same household – gamers and students on one, and teleworkers on the other. In addition, some users have started looking for phones compatible with 5G in order to take advantage of “hotspots” allowing fast connections. This is where we find the main advantage of 5G for the average user: a faster connection (higher bandwidth) and lower latency. As a result, video conferencing applications like Webex or Zoom have benefited from faster throughput and less disruption to the quality of the connection.
In addition, with the multiplication of positive cases for the virus around the world, telemedicine and ephemeral screening centers have emerged in order to control the epidemic. This decentralization of the traditional model of health care has enabled large numbers of people to receive care in complete safety. The populations located in medical deserts were able to benefit from remote consultations for “simple” and non-serious reasons, not requiring a face-to-face meeting with the practitioner. In this context, the low latency of 5G will facilitate massive transfers of files, images and other medical content, which will allow healthcare workers to make decisions quickly.
New millimeter wave radios and edge computing also offer ultra-low latency, high bandwidth and high reliability. A 5G antenna is about the size of a large suitcase and can be installed more easily than 4G / LTE. While the range of 5G radios is not as great as that of 4G, focusing on a smaller area without wasting resources on unused space allows for more efficient deployments.
In 2021, with the emergence of vaccines and pharmaceutical treatments for COVID-19, operators will offer new benefits based on 5G. Managing logistics flows, surveillance, healthcare networks, mobility services and increased levels of cybersecurity will indeed be essential when the world finally emerges from this unprecedented health crisis.