How the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change the economy

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Photo of Ronan Dunne at MWCA

Credit: Trish Tunney via GSMA

A few years ago I went to the BBC in London to meet with their head of digital media. He described the first 10 years of television as radio in front of a camera — effectively a fixed-point camera filming a radio broadcast. The creators, the innovators, and the technologists had not yet wrapped their minds around the full creative potential of the medium, focusing on recording the status quo rather than imagining a fundamentally different future. 

That’s where we’re at when it comes to wireless technology.

Up until this moment in history, we’ve seen wireless as an opportunity to have ubiquitous connectivity and digital as a way of automating and optimizing what we’ve always done. But just as the next generation of the television industry reinvented content based on the unique properties of the medium itself, the potential of the fifth generation of wireless technology demands that we fundamentally rethink what can be done on a wireless platform.

5G isn’t just another iteration of wireless innovation. It has the potential to join a very exclusive club – the handful of technologies throughout history that transform industries across every sector of the economy … redefining work, elevating living standards, and having a profound and sustained impact on our global economic growth.

Think about innovations like the printing press. The steam engine. Railroads. Electricity. The Internet. Economists call these foundational technologies “General Purpose Technologies” or GPTs – a rather boring name for the building blocks of the industrial economy. 5G has the potential to be one of these indispensable technologies, with the potential to create growth and spur innovation on a truly global scale.

To put it into context, it’s projected that by 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output and support 22 million jobs worldwide.

From our point of view at Verizon, 5G will transform our world in 3 big ways. Here’s how:

  1.  Extend mobile broadband reach
    5G we will be able to extend mobile broadband to more people through fixed wireless technologies and expand the boundaries of the mobile broadband experience beyond the experiences we know today. Think 3D. Holograms. Virtual reality. Augmented reality. Truly immersive experiences that will connect more people in even more ways.
  2. The Internet of Things
    5G will enable the Internet of Things to be deployed on a truly massive scale, thanks to its combination of data transfer speeds and processing power. Today, there are some 8.4 Billion connected “things” in use — up 31% from 2016.  By 2020, that number will grow to more than 20.4 billion.
  3. Mission-critical services
    With its gigabit speeds and blink-of-an-eye response times, 5G will be an integral component of mission-critical services that will dramatically improve the safety and security of our society: driverless cars, remote surgery, public safety and traffic control and other applications that depend on instantaneous response and data analysis.

My vision is, and our industry’s ambition must be, that 5G opens up more opportunity than our society has ever experienced before. Of course, at Verizon we aren’t waiting for the Fourth Industrial Revolution—we’re building it.

Learn more about Verizon’s presence at MWCA 2017. 

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