The 5G evolution is well on its way according to a new survey done by Rysavy Research.

In their lengthy white paper released on Thursday, the research company looked forward into the 2020s and 2030s to see how the rise of 5G will change every aspect of our lives. Their study, Global 5G: Implications of a Transformational Technology details society’s move from 1G in the 1980s to 5G, which has been rolling out globally over the past few months.

“The transition to 5G has been happening simultaneously with continued advances in 4G LTE,” said Rysavy Research President Peter Rysavy. The report was done in conjunction with 5G Americas, the industry trade association for 5G and LTE in the Americas.

“5G will transform wireless network capability by facilitating extremely dense deployments, harnessing spectrum never before available for cellular systems, being able to use extremely wide radio channels, employing virtualization methods, and supporting new ultra reliable and low latency applications.”

SEE: Rural America is in the midst of a mental health crisis. Tech could help some patients see a way forward. (TechRepublic cover story) | Download the free PDF version

The report predicts that 5G will serve as the bedrock of an entirely digitized environment populated by autonomous cars, smart cities, wearable computers and “innovations not yet conceived.”

IoT devices continue to become more and more popular and 5G’s full rollout in 2020 will prompt even more widespread use and adoption of machine-to-machine systems. The second phase of the 5G rollout is scheduled for mid-2020 and subsequent updates are expected in 2021-2022. The first 5G smartphones will be available in late 2019. Vendors are also planning laptops with integrated 5G capability.

5G will have a role in boosting fixed wireless access, augmented reality and virtual reality, ultra-high definition video, healthcare systems, cloud gaming, automotive systems, school-based systems, smart cities, wearable computing and video surveillance.

“Some of these applications are already being addressed by 4G, but 5G’s lower costs, higher throughputs, high reliability, and lower latency will hasten realization of their potential,” according to the report.

“Because each generation of cellular technology is more efficient, the cost of delivering data decreases, and so prices are lower for users, expanding the number of feasible applications. The same will be true with 5G. A site fully evolved with 4G and 5G capacity will deliver mobile data 10 times more cost efficiently than a basic 4G site does today.”

5G will also be crucial for spreading internet access to rural areas that are still struggling with hard wire access. Factories are quickly incorporating smart systems or IoT devices into their workflows and 5G will help by lowering costs. In rural areas, wireless technologies can now be created and maintained at a fraction of the cost of wired networks, extending broadband to more people.

The report cites a board member of the Wireless Internet Service Provider Association who said wireless costs are one-fifth to one-tenth that of cable or fiber.

SEE: 5G mobile networks: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Part of what will make the transition to 5G easy is that 4G LTE is rapidly improving and will be integrated with 5G in a way that helps both systems thrive. The study said, “5G will not replace LTE; in many cases, the two technologies will be tightly integrated and co-exist through at least the late 2020s.”

“Wireless network capacity doubles every three years and is fueled by progressive densification, access to new spectrum, and innovation that increases spectral efficiency,” Rysavy said.

Adoption of technology is now growing exponentially, making it incumbent upon cities and companies to provide a better, broader system for data than anything previously seen.

The report cited a Cisco projection of global mobile data consumption through 2022, measured in exabytes (billion gigabytes) per month, and found that traffic was growing at a compound annual rate of 46%.

In the US alone, mobile data in 2018 increased by 82% over 2017. In June 2019, Rysavy says there were more than 8.71 billion GSM-HSPA-LTE connections in effect—greater than the world’s 7.59 billion population.

By the end of 2023, the global mobile broadband market is expected to include 9.9 billion subscribers, representing more than 99% market share.

“We can foresee potential next generation developments through 2030, considered ‘beyond 5G’ that could result in theoretical peak speeds of up to one terabit per second (Tbps),” said Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas.

“The mobile wireless industry does not stand still and has historically shown that innovative enhancements to improve mobile technology will continue into the future.”

There are such high hopes for 5G because of how well 4G/LTE has progressed. The white paper said LTE has experienced faster deployment than any mobile technology ever developed. All major U.S. operators now offer nationwide LTE coverage. US national public-safety organizations chose LTE as their primary broadband technology.

The 100-page study said 5G was better equipped to “cater to the unique needs of a wide variety of machine applications by addressing low cost, long battery life, long communications range, and a wide variety of throughputs.”

“For millions, and ultimately billions, of people, wireless connections will be the only connections that they need. These networks will also provide the foundation for entire new industries, ones not yet even conceived.”

Looking into the future, they said 5G networks could allow cities to “optimize pedestrian and vehicular traffic, connect utility meters, and deploy trash containers that can report when they need emptying.”

IoT devices will soon be integral parts of healthcare, transportation and logistics. Smart, self-driving cars will need 5G and the white paper says there are millions of applications that have not even been created yet.

“Based on experience with 4G, a number of applications suggest themselves as good candidates for 5G. However, in the same way nobody predicted an application such as ride hailing (e.g., Lyft, Uber) when operators first deployed 4G some ten years ago, many any applications for 5G remain to be invented. Many of these will have huge economic and societal impact.”

They paint a portrait of a highly digitized world heavily reliant on a wide spread 5G network that could handle smartphones, tablets, laptops and billions of IoT devices.

“The evolved-5G capabilities expected during the 2020s, combined with developments in computer miniaturization and artificial intelligence, will create an augmented-reality overlay on human experience. Research underway could make device interaction touchless, based only on natural human voice communication or gestures. Wearable devices will become ubiquitous, for example in watches, and others speculate devices that can be implanted in our bodies or in our ears,” according to the report.

The future of wireless technology, including both LTE and 5G, is bright, with no end in sight for continued growth in capability, nor for the limitless application and service innovation that these technologies enable, the report noted.

Image: iStockphoto/wooyaa