For Canada to stay globally competitive, 5G access coast-to-coast is a must. Because it can — and eventually will — enable innovation across all sectors of business.
A recent report by Deetken Insight indicates 5G-related technologies could power up to 16% or $120 billion of Canada’s GDP growth by 2036.
So you’re probably thinking, we should already be well on our way to 5G adoption, right?
Not so much, it turns out.
Compared to the U.S., Germany, Japan, Australia, and a number of other countries, we’re actually far behind in our “5G spectrum allocations for mid-and high-band frequencies,” which is a technical way of saying we’re far behind, period.
The Deetken report says Canada urgently needs a national digital infrastructure strategy to accelerate 5G deployment and adoption. Which requires deeper engagement between governments and industry stakeholders.
Before we go any further, if you’re wondering what exactly 5G is? And how is it different from previous G’s? Here’s a simple primer:
Both 3G and 4G connectivity were consumer-driven and operator-enabling. 3G enabled the creation of foundational networks while 4G powered social media and big tech. They got us to now. But from an industrial point-of-view, 5G will create the ability for enterprise-level innovation across the entire country and every sector of the economy.
Yep, it’s as transformative as it sounds.
What we can accomplish with 5G
So, what does a 5G Canada look like?
Let’s start with how it affects individual businesses.
Those that can connect their apps and software to 5G networks will have major advantages, not just from a pure connectivity point-of-view but in the ability to innovate and compete.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are the buzziest of buzzwords right now, but within years they’ll become common tools across most industries. Same with virtual and augmented reality. These are the tools of the future for Canadian businesses. But this tech requires a high level (read: 5G and eventually 6G) of connectivity to function.
Then, there’s also the broad economic and social benefits we could reap:
- Predictive maintenance that will make our telecom and manufacturing sectors more efficient
- 5G can empower the smart energy grid, which will help modernize it for challenges like the coming rush of electric vehicle adoption
- A revolutionized healthcare system. Whether rural or urban, this is an industry that’s desperate for innovation. 5G is one of the catalysts for the future of this critical industry.
Speaking of rural…we live in a massive, relatively sparsely populated country. And more remote or smaller communities are already behind when it comes to digital infrastructure and opportunities.
5G will help level that playing field. It will also enable rural and remote industries like agriculture, mining, energy, and others to deploy smart technologies, autonomous vehicles, and robots.
That means more efficiency, more productivity — and ultimately more prosperity.
5G-enabled technologies can support sustainability initiatives
Here’s an amazing additional benefit of a 5G-enabled Canada: It could have a major positive impact on climate change.
Imagine a remotely operated robot completing a task at a northern Saskatchewan worksite that previously required two people to drive out for a day. You don’t have to burn any of that fuel for their drive (or put them personally at risk in winter conditions).
Now imagine that all the buildings across the Canadian landscape are operating on smart meters and energy management systems. That’s more energy savings. And more greenhouse gas reductions.
There are a thousand other scenarios we could paint, but you don’t have to imagine them all. We’ve got the numbers.
A 2020 Accenture report estimated that 5G-enabled technologies can remove 48-54 million metric tonnes of carbon from the environment by 2025. That’s the equivalent of taking 10.5 million cars off the road for a year.
All told, 5G could lead to a 20% reduction in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.
How can you make 5G work for your business?
While our country is undeniably behind on 5G from an international perspective, we are getting there, slowly.
At the end of 2020, Canada launched a $1.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund. There’s also the recent announcement of a 5G centre of excellence in Montréal that will develop and commercialize artificial intelligence platforms to support 5G networks.
And just this week, Rogers and Microsoft previewed a new solution for developers to build 5G-aware network applications. Five key “performance and reliability” capabilities this will provide those developing 5G-enabled applications are:
- “Optimal endpoint discovery – use information about network conditions between clients and servers to dispatch clients to the correct endpoint, whether on the edge or in the cloud.
- Network quality of service – Ask a network to improve conditions between a client and a server when the conditions degrade.
- Device localization – Ask the network for information about a client’s current location
- Workload mobility – Move a client’s workload to a better endpoint when network conditions change
- Adaptive cloud usage – Adjust the mix of computations performed on the edge”
If the business use of these capabilities is a little confusing, don’t worry, a good developer can help explain why they’re so valuable.
And all these examples of growing support for 5G networks is why businesses need to start investing in 5G solutions now. To get started, first figure out where you are in your digital transformation journey.
Then you can start exploring the competitive advantages that 5G-enabled apps and software can provide to your business.