5G: What is it and who can profit from it?

When comparing 5G and 4G, 4G is slower, less flexible, and less reliable. Thus, it limits technological progress where 5G will not. 5G can revolutionize numerous industries.
industries that are potential beneficiaries of 5G technology
Min Read
June 7, 2021

5G has become a prominent buzzword over the last couple of years – both in technological industries and in customer communications – with only few people actually understanding what 5G is and who can profit from it and how. Long story short: 5G is a wireless technology following in the footsteps of 4G with potential of improvement for numerous of industries and customers.

Executive Summary

  • Wireless technology has advanced over the last 40+ years, with 5G being the fifth generation of it.
  • When comparing 5G and 4G, the latter is slower, less flexible, and less reliable. Thus, it limits technological progress where 5G will not.  
  • 5G has the potential to revolutionize numerous industries: Healthcare, Manufacturing, Automotive, Retail, Entertainment, Energy, Agriculture, Financial Services, Supply Chain Management, et cetera.  

A short history of wireless technology systems

While wireless communication has technically existed for more than a hundred years, it did not become commercially available until the late 1970s and early 1980s:

  • The first generation, called 1G, was introduced with cell phones and allowed for mobile voice calls.
  • 2G, the second generation, improved voice calling and introduced text messaging via SMS, and later MMS.
  • The third generation, 3G, was comparatively ground-breaking, allowing for internet browsing and video calling.
  • The next and fourth generation, 4G, is also referred to as LTE and is what we have been using for the past years. 4G has enabled mobile online gaming, live streaming HD-TV, group video conferencing, connecting home solutions and experiencing first versions of AR and VR.

5G vs 4G – The benefits of a 5G network

While 4G is highly popular among users of mobile devices, it has its limitations that 5G is set to overcome: 4G requires downloading or buffering. A minor problem for most consumers, but the latency can directly impact system outcomes for industries.  

5G, however, takes a quantum leap in connectivity and creates opportunities for numerous industries such as healthcare, retail, automotive, and entertainment. Once 5G has become widespread, these and other industries can benefit from it for three main reasons:

  • Low latency: 5G devices enable a faster transmission of larger data streams than 4G devices
  • Reliability: 5G devices provide for better transmission of data under extreme conditions
  • Flexibility: 5G is more flexible than other wireless technologies and can therefore support a wider range of devices and sensors.

5G Technology – Industries that profit from it

There is a whole range of industries that are potential beneficiaries of 5G technology – each for their own reasons:


5G offers the opportunity to expand preventative and monitoring practices via wearable devices. Since it is faster and has a more reliable network, it allows for the development of more complex devices and thus increases remote diagnoses, personalized monitoring, telemedicine-based care and robotic surgery across borders.  


The manufacturing industry is looking for ways to increase efficiency, improve data collection and optimize predictive analytics. One major potential improvement with 5G could be augmented reality for manufacturing. Besides that, it can also  

  • help continuously monitoring equipment performances
  • provide robotic visual recognition that performs quality assurance
  • enable predictive analytics to determine when a part will need maintenance


The cars of the future are supposed to be able to drive autonomously. To guarantee security, the automotive industry is counting on a system in which cars, traffic lights etc. communicate with each other. A 5G network would mean more sensors in the environment as well as faster data transmission.  


The retail industry has already started implementing smart technologies, such as faster check-out or shelf monitoring. With 5G technology, shelves could be equipped with sensors that detect low inventory, ping a distribution centre to restock, and even monitor the delivery progress.


5G internet will lead to a shift away from streaming and towards mobile downloads. The faster connectivity will also come in handy for the e-sports and gaming industries, where response times can determine a players’ success or failure.  


5G can enable a more cost-effective energy transmission, make energy grids become more efficiently manageable, and reduce downtime. Streetlights connected with 5G technology could, for example, switch off when there is no traffic, thus saving energy.  


5G can offer farmers faster and more accurate information in the field – for example meteorological predictions – which can help increase crop yields and make it easier to prevent crop illnesses.  

Financial Services

With 5G speed, mobile payments could become faster and more reliable. 5G can also bring better banking to areas in which there are no physical branches.  

Supply Chain Management

5G technology has the potential to transform almost every part of a supply chain: Sensors can enable real-time tracking and tracing, which is practical for delivery, but also for insurance, as the status of any package can be monitored – including variables like temperature, location, and moisture.  

Conclusion: Various areas of operation for 5G

5G has the potential to pave new ways for numerous industries, offering opportunities that 4G wireless technology simply cannot. Many of these industries are already experimenting and working on ways to implement 5G once it becomes commercially available – one of them being the telecommunications industry, which is bringing 5G to customers by producing more and more 5G phones.

Telefónica is one of the companies working to build the 5G network. Wayra, on the other hand, finds startups with revolutionary ideas involving 5G and connects them with Telefónica. Located in Munich, our Wayra 5G Tech Lab offers you the opportunity to experience how 5G and Edge Computing might shape the future.    

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Written by
Florian Bogenschütz
Written by
Florian Bogenschütz

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