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5G connectivity is truly on the brink of becoming a reality in the UK with Ofcom finally approving six companies to take part in the spectrum action, speculated to take place later this month. 150MHz of the 3.4GHz band will be allocated which will enable networks to start testing its true capabilities and bring us closer to the 2020 target for a commercial roll out. With South Korea’s recent showcase of their 5G advances at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics including fully automated shuttle buses and 360-degree real time video of athletes, its high time for other nations to start getting serious about it as well.


While the breakneck speeds 5G promises to bring to the world are impressive, theoretically up to 10 gigabits/sec for downloads, the real marvel will be the effect it has on smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT). It will enable us to connect and communicate with devices all around us that provide information to make life easier and more efficient. In the world of business there are endless possibilities opened by the integration of 5G with IoT and artificial intelligence (AI). AI is now considered a blanket term for the three flavours it comes in; assisted, augmented and autonomous, which increase in the amount of “intelligence” as we go down the list.


So, let’s start with assisted intelligence. This form is considered the least flashy out of the three as humans still make the final decisions, the AI simply collects data and acts on tasks it is instructed to. The aim is for machines to help humans to do tasks better, faster or more efficient than we can. For example, imagine the very common scenario of an accident on the motorways causing a major traffic jam. Smart cameras and sensors connected to a 5G network could record the congestion data which can be analysed then relayed back to transport services. They can then make real time adjustments to timetables and departures and drivers can be diverted to better routes. Other applications include helping with more mundane tasks such as minute taking at meeting or answering phone calls. This kind of intelligence will greatly improve efficiency in businesses as employees can focus on the more important tasks while machines do the legwork in the background.


Then we have augmented intelligence which is where it starts to get a bit more exciting. This technology is where humans and machines work and learn together to make better decisions. It can allow for more effective marketing with machines learning through trends and algorithms to adapt strategies, such as how Netflix uses machine learning to recommend new shows for you to binge. Now machine learning is a huge part of what makes augmented intelligence possible. It allows a machine to analyse information to a point where it can develop an understanding of its interactions and respond to them in a way a human would. For markers this is amazing as it can help to tailor the end user experience of a website by only showing relevant information to that specific user. With more advancements this AI could use analytics to identify new market opportunities to give a company a leading edge over their competition. Decision making is a major bottleneck in businesses especially when employees seek approval before completing a task. With augmented intelligence humans and machines can work together to make sure things are solved swiftly with the correct solution.


Finally, we have autonomous intelligence which is hyped to be the pinnacle of artificial intelligence. This technology is where machines will act and learn on their own with no human direction at all. It’s not exactly like Skynet from the Terminator franchise – as cool or dangerous as it might be – but it’s not too far off. A common concept of autonomous intelligence is self-driving cars which has already become a reality, although not on a large scale. Need a delivery ASAP but live in the middle of nowhere? No problem, Amazon has already begun to make this a reality with Prime Air and it will only continue to become more advanced and reliable. Prime Air is a pretty big deal as it is the first air delivery service made possible by fully autonomous drones, also making it potentially the first autonomous intelligence interaction many consumers will have. It promises to deliver orders under 30 minutes providing it is within a 10-mile radius of an Amazon depot and weighs less than 2.25kg. With a vast 5G network more vehicles and drones could travel anywhere to deliver almost anything and connect with more people than ever.


The capabilities of 5G business can use this in conjunction with AI to expand their network to the next level as more useful information will be available to help them operate more effectively. Additionally, the economic boosts predicted by 5G and AI in the UK alone are astronomical, up to £10 billion a year from 5G and an eye-watering £630 billion by 2035 for AI, showing that there is real potential in these technologies. Artificial intelligence is sure to feature in every business in some way in the future, whether it be a fully automated workforce or small machines analysing in the background to improve efficiency. However, it is 5G that is set to provide the foundation for AI to reach its potential with its super

fast speeds and almost non-existent latency. Even though we are still miles off from the reaching their true capabilities it is fascinating to see how life is predicted to be in the very near future.

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