Posted Feb 13 2019
The next few years will mark a big shift in technology, as wireless systems transition to 5G, or "fifth generation" cellular networks. Since this is the age of IoT, the change will affect not only smartphones, but also other connected devices like smart home systems, cloud computing networks, and even less everyday things like industrial robots.
5G is expected to bring about three main benefits. First is greater speed. While 4G is already impressive with its speed of 75 Mbit/s, the data transfer rates of 5G are projected to be 10 times higher. Second is lower latency, which means shorter waiting time between data request and delivery. And third is increased connectivity. 5G cell towers will have greater capacity as compared to 4G, which means more devices can be connected all at once.
One of the industries that clearly illustrates the significant impact that 5G will have is gaming. Since advanced cloud computing will be made possible by 5G, CB Insights' Jud Waite believes game console developers may shift to cloud-based subscription services. Think of the idea as a Netflix for high quality video games (something Microsoft is reportedly already considering rolling out later in 2019). Such a service would lower the costs for gamers as well as provide them with easy access to performance updates or patches. Even older games may be brought to new devices. For instance, we might see Nintendo classics brought back to life in playable form, or see the original versions of franchises now on their 10th games.
Another massive potential benefit for the industry comes from the sheer power of 5G. InfoWorld states that 5G is purpose-built for business. Companies will no longer rely on scattered devices tethered to various WiFi hotspots, because a decent-sized business can run comfortably in its entirety over a single 5G network. What’s more, because of the aforementioned speeds, they can take advantage of cloud-based services to improve work processes and overall productivity.
When applied to gaming, the powerful capability of 5G could impact two areas: gaming at home, and eSports. The world of gaming is already on the cusp of a revolution of sorts, with 360-degree virtual reality experiences now widely available. And while currently only high-end PCs and the best consoles are able to handle the most advanced forms of VR, 5G and cloud computing may alter the landscape. They might in fact bring about the possibility of high-quality virtual reality being able to work through nothing more than an ordinary mobile device (whereas current mobile VR experiences leave much to be desired).
Consider also the effect 5G-enhanced gaming might have on a home with an entire "smart" network. For instance, if one has smart exercise equipment, one can place gaming consoles in the same room to enjoy games while exercising, sometimes in direct conjunction. One prominent online gaming resource specifically noted that the nature of certain online games can let gamers simultaneously enjoy other, more vigorous activities, which is to say playing a game while exercising helps the time pass in a more enjoyable fashion. And because of faster activity and the power of 5G, this sort of multitasking will be easier and more feasible than ever before, without network interruptions or connected devices getting out of sync.
Perhaps the biggest area of the gaming industry to receive benefits, however, will be eSports. In a typical eSports tournament, several gaming systems would have to be connected in order for the gamers to have a smooth playing experience, and for viewers to enjoy seamless live streams. With the larger capacity of 5G, eSports will be brought to another level, with a given event theoretically able to handle a far greater capacity in terms of consoles being used and people tuning in.
5G is currently still in its developmental phase, so it won’t be be available commercially until 2020. When it is rolled out however, expect the gaming industry and various related technologies to be among those pushing it the hardest.
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