5G as an enabler for new and smarter ways of working

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5G as an enabler for new and smarter ways of working

Implications for real estate and construction

5G mobile internet will transform the way we work, live, travel, and play. But how does 5G work? What are the benefits of 5G? How can real estate leverage this new technology to accelerate digital transformation within an industry that is well behind others? Let’s explore the answers to these key questions further.

The first 5G networks were launched in 2019 and were primarily deployed from existing 4G base stations. From there, various major networks launched 5G mobile network capabilities in several cities and towns. But there is more to come, 5G could solidify the business case for transformational technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR & VR), and Digital Twins. All of these could have a significant effect on digitalization in various sectors. 5G is expected to be the 'glue' that will tie all our devices, buildings, and cities together, enabling new and smarter ways of working for all of us.

How fast is 5g compared to 4g?

The upgrade from 4G to 5G will lead to greater network speeds, where standard 4G provides a maximum real-life speed of about 80Mbps, whereas 5G could reach a peak speed of 10-20Gbps. Combined with increased bandwidth, improved network speeds could enhance the construction process. For instance, the remote use of VR could support communicating ideas to project teams in an agile setting. Also, 5G could increase the use of off-site manufacturing, unlocking AI to optimize quality control and risk escalation processes, and increase the use of 3D printing to create standard building components. It could improve information storage, progress tracking, and automated project controls. However, the most significant benefit of 5G will most likely be the ability to take Building Information Modeling (BIM) to the next level, which will enhance the potential for fully confederated 6D models and enable the creation of cloud-based 'digital twins'.

Why does 5G have low latency?

5G is expected to reduce latency in the order of 1 millisecond, which means that 5G response times will feel instantaneous. The implementation of the Internet of Things is progressing at a high pace within real estate. More and more new buildings are being specified with sensors inside and out, and 5G will enable an instantaneous connection to the buildings' usage data and infrastructure, providing scope for accurate tenant occupancy data and optimized maintenance regimes of assets.

High data capacity

More bandwidth and data capacity would reduce the competition for connection and would allow the support of up to a million devices per square kilometer. 5G, together with big-data applications and cloud storage capabilities, could increase the data on space utilization, power, and energy consumption. A much-needed retail revolution could start with VR and AR to create experiential retail environments and be further developed by in-store analytics to personalize shoppers' experiences.
Over time, collecting and interpreting data produced by real estate will become a defensive strategy for most real estate stakeholders. Thanks to this information, they will be able to maintain an edge over their competitors. Additionally, governments should impose more regulatory requirements to encourage the use of 5G, as it will increase productivity, efficiency and improve sustainability performance.

5G enabling workplace transformation

Pre-existing work patterns continue to shift, and 5G could further stimulate this workplace transformation. Fully integrated 5G offices could create opportunities for landlords through different types of leasing models. Business models of flexible office operators, booking desks, and meeting rooms with specific capability could become more common as 5G networks expand.

5G Challenges

The implication and optimization of 5G may come with various challenges which are important to take into account; these include but are not limited to:

  • shorter frequency waves requiring small cell site technology with antennas as close as 500 feet apart
  •  higher risk of obstacles (including building materials) blocking or disrupting high frequency 5G signals
  • many devices that will need to be 5G enabled, e.g., better battery technology
  • GDPR legislation and privacy laws that may limit 5G optimization.

What can 5G bring to the real estate industry?

Although the Covid-19 may have slowed down the implication of 5G, it also highlighted the need for improved connectivity, which can be achieved through greater network speeds, reduced latency, and wider bandwidth capacity to support a digital transformation. Although the implication of 5G is not without challenges, the benefits outweigh the costs. The real estate sector has the " capacity" to reap some of the greatest benefits from its implementation.

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