No one would disagree that the impact of wireless and mobile communication in our daily lives have been profound, to say the least. One can confidently say that no technology has been adapted so rapidly in a global scale as the mobile telephony. It is noteworthy to mention that since the first deployment of AMPS systems in the US in 1983, the adoption of the technology has been growing exponentially in a global scale. Based on GSMA, over 3.89 billion people had subscription to mobile telephony in 2016. This number is expected to grow to 5.8 billion by 2020. While this number may look overwhelming, it is expected to be dwarfed compared to the anticipated number of the connections forecasted for IoT systems. McKinsey, for instance, puts the number of IoT connected device at 30 billion by the end of 2020. GSMA predicts a total contribution to the global economy of around $4.2 trillion in 2020.
A look at the generations of the mobile system reveals the problem that each generation had addressed. 1G systems solved the problem of mobility and untethered communiation while in a call. 2G systems solved the problem of roaming and to some extent capacity while introducing digital technology. 3G systems addressed the concurrent connectivity from a single device and capacity issues. 4G systems addressed the high data rate connectivity and introduced IP signaling in the mobile systems. And now 5G is poised to address the system requirements introduced by IoT devices, namely, the requirement for enormous number of simultaneous communications due to sheer number of connected device as well as power management, latency, and the security issues.
While the technical challenges for 5G are being addressed and resolved by key players in the industry such as Qualcomm and Intel, it is the socio-economics impact of full implementation of 5G and realization of IoT systems that needs to be deeply scrutinized and studied. In the modern societies key labor intensive industries such as transportation, delivery, health care and many more could be cost optimized by IoT system deployment. Driverless cars which were sci-fi movie concepts not too long ago are now at the verge of commercialization. While the cost effectiveness of such a system is undeniable, the number of jobs that will be scrubbed once the autonomous vehicles, drones, and passenger planes takeover would be overwhelming. While the intend of this paper is simply providing an overview of 5G technology, the author is compelled to have the thinkers on our society to be cognizant of the enormous potential social impact of 5G and IoT Systems. This however is a challenge that we leave to the experts in social science areas to tackle