5G driving a wave of change?

Explore • Pulse #6 • 3 min
By Julien Thèves

By speeding download times, reducing latency and giving a big boost to the internet of things, the fifth generation of mobile networking (5G) could radically change the way we travel. As frequency allocation has begun in 50 or more countries, here’s an overview of new possible uses.

Efficient crisis management

Safety is enhanced by onboard video surveillance and the use of drones. In the event of a crisis, remotely located security experts with VR headsets can get a 360° view of the scene. It also facilitates communication and cooperation with everyone involved, such as network operators, local authorities and emergency services. This gives them a level of situational awareness almost as if they were physically on the ground.

An enhanced customer experience

5G technology improves onboard connectivity and facilitates in-vehicle infotainment. With 5G, passengers can download a whole season of their favourite boxset to their phone in just seconds, whether they’re at a station or on the move. 5G also makes it easier to operate a virtual service desk, with mobility advisors guiding passengers around the transport network. Support for people with reduced mobility is also enhanced, thanks to improved geotracking and navigation services. And 5G facilitates and speeds up ticket payment and inspection and network access, notably through high responsiveness.

Excellence in maintenance

A maintenance operator and network expert can interact via 3D video using smartglasses and an on-screen annotation system. Remote-controlled construction equipment is starting to appear on network tracks, and cobotics — collaboration between humans and robots — is becoming more widespread. 5G is also reducing downtime. Thanks to real-time data transmission, a damaged or defective vehicle can be repaired as soon as it gets to the workshop.

Smart autonomous vehicles

Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology makes it possible for autonomous cars, buses, trams and trains to communicate with each other and also with local infrastructure like traffic lights and car parks — and even with pedestrians. And 5G’s ultra-low latency reduces the risk of accidents. The advent of connected ambulances also heralds a significant improvement in patient care. By receiving medical data from the vehicle in real time, the hospital emergency team can prepare more effectively for the patient’s arrival.


In his own words

Sébastien Kaiser

Connectivity & Networks Director, SNCF

“Smart cities, energy, healthcare, retail and industry are all closely connected to mobility an benefit from the advances offered by 5G. This new technology is known for its advanced performance, which includes super-fast download speeds and response times and the ability to manage a large number of connected devices in real time. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s also designed to allay environmental concerns. 5G is up to 20 times more energy efficient than previous-generation mobile networks, and the antennas are more accurate than their 4G equivalents, reducing electromagnetic radiation. 5G will also help bridge the geographic digital divide by compensating for the lack of fibreoptic cables in some rural communities. Last but not least, the new standard is flexible and modular. Thanks to a concept called ‘network slicing’, a 5G network can be split into multiple virtual networks. This means that within the same space such as a train station, one slice could be dedicated to staff, for example, and another to communicating with robotic devices. To ensure the effective rollout of these eagerly awaited services by 2023, telecoms operators and industry need to cooperate. So, they’ll need to find the economic equation that best enables all these improvements to become a reality, without raising costs for users.”

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