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What Does 5G Mean for the Transportation Industry?

Many consumers have been conditioned to view the changes between 3G, 4G, and 5G primarily in terms of how much faster it makes the apps on their phones. That’s fair; the difference in speed is huge.

Downloading an hour-long playlist on Spotify takes seven minutes using 3G, 20 seconds with 4G and just .06 seconds in 5G. In other words, 5G is about 100 times faster than 4G, which is roughly 10 times faster than 3G. 

Lightning-fast downloads aside, 5G is a game-changer because it reduces latency, the amount of time it takes for one machine to communicate with another. Latency reduction not only makes communication happen faster but it can also completely remove the need for wires and cords. That can create opportunities where large amounts of data can be “grabbed out of the air,” instantly processed and turned into decisions which are employed on the factory floors and the open road. 

4G transformed shopping, streaming and social media, creating a new era of online activity where the consumer creatively responded to content. 5G will create the opportunity for machines to process data creatively, delivering options to businesses as actionable data. Consumers will enjoy augmented and virtual reality along with hyperfast entertainment downloads, but the big opportunity for business is the potential to have a comprehensive view of supply chains, inventories, delivery options and obstacles, combined with real-time data updates for all of it. 

That access to data will allow principals to respond to changes on the ground as they happen and plan ahead based on data from more sources than they’ve ever had before. Data obtained from the Internet of Things (IoT) already provides avenues for optimizing delivery routes, improving maintenance schedules and identifying opportunities within operations and planning. Currently, few companies are using IoT data beyond real-time monitoring to mitigate theft and loss. 

As 5G takes root, the ability to respond in near-real time to increasing numbers of data streams will drive the demand for intelligent use of it, and processes now viewed as cutting-edge will become industry standards delivered through increasingly sophisticated apps. 

Costs will come down, customer satisfaction will rise and profits will grow as businesses use 5G-driven tech to get a comprehensive real-time view of conditions impacting fleet activity, available resources, and shipment deliveries. In addition, 5G will make it possible to incorporate data from CRMs, sales reports from myriad sources, statistics, news and weather updates, historical and business trends and data, as well as local events. That data gets analyzed using AI-enhanced applications, providing actionable data in near real-time or better. 

For the transportation sector, this kind of innovation also has people talking excitedly about “smart cities,” built out with completely connected traffic infrastructures and full of autonomous vehicles. Those futuristic visions will require ubiquitous networks of 5G and 4G coverage, which don’t exist now and won’t for some time. However, the 5G future has already begun: appearing on the near horizon are communications between vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), as well as expanding capabilities for IoT. As these technologies evolve, they’ll provide shippers and carriers with increased flexibility and control, behind the wheel and in the back office. As an added benefit, those decisions will also deliver improved safety and lower maintenance costs.


Learn more about how Trimble is here to help ensure your fleet’s connectivity — both today and in the years to come.