With the “fourth industrial revolution” underway as technology rapidly advances and changes the global outlook, fifth-generation (5G) internet has proved to be a breakthrough that could potentially pull millions out of poverty. One can characterize 5G internet by its high speed, high capacity and low latency with a bandwidth almost 10 times more than fourth-generation (4G) internet. Peak download speeds for 5G internet are around 20 gigabits per second, allowing users to download full movies, videos, advanced Internet of Things (IoT) software or artificial intelligence (AI) in minutes. 5G internet could reduce poverty significantly if countries implement the correct infrastructure for it.
Many countries have already begun building 5G networks. According to a report by Cisco, at the end of 2019, 26 countries were commercially selling 5G programs, 14 of which were developing countries. Countries with high rates of poverty could especially benefit from 5G internet as it would provide a stable internet connection and allow them to access a wealth of online resources. Below are seven ways 5G internet could reduce poverty.
7 Ways 5G Internet Could Reduce Poverty
- 5G internet could further advance the Sustainable Development Goals set for completion by 2030, especially surrounding “inclusive and equitable” education for all. The communities that live in rural locations most commonly face difficulties accessing educational resources. According to the World Economic Forum, construction of a school would have to happen every hour for 11 years in order to ensure enough schools for all of the children living in sub-Saharan Africa. 5G internet could connect those in unreachable locations to online teaching resources and remote learning opportunities. The speed of 5G internet could allow students to tune in live to classrooms globally.
- Healthcare, which has lagged far behind in many developing countries, could see massive reforms as part of 5G internet access. New AI and IoT devices could revolutionize the industry. New surgeons in training can wear haptic gloves that track hand movement to send to professionals across the globe so they can correct and mentor them. Virtual reality and 3D imaging allow medical professionals to aid in surgeries in rural areas. AI could even enable remote surgeries or checkups.
- Compared to 4G networks, 5G can reduce energy consumption by 50% to 95%, said the European Investment Bank. Energy poverty is already a prevalent issue, which is a lack of access to energy as a result of its high cost. Reducing energy usage further would allow 5G to be more affordable and sustainable.
- The internet has already allowed massive globalization to take place which has expanded global output by millions of dollars. 5G will continue this revolution – by 2035, IHS economics and technology has determined that 5G internet will enable $12.3 trillion in global economic output. In addition, it should allow the creation of 22 million jobs, meaning a vast new market could open up for employment in all countries.
- With new AI and IoT devices monitoring factors, such as rainfall, water content, nutrients in the soil, ground temperature and more, 5G internet should encourage the rise of “smart” agriculture. This technological push to increase farmer efficiency has already begun but faster data speeds and larger bandwidth that allow the installation of more sensors and larger-scale technology should accelerate it. Intel estimates that the global smart agriculture market will rise to $23.44 billion by 2025 and that 55% of data on farms will come from IoT devices. Impoverished countries could especially benefit from these advancements as they will allow higher crop yields, saving money and feeding a larger portion of people.
- People could use unmanned aerial vehicles (such as drones) in combination with 5G internet to supply a larger area. Especially in rural areas where built-in infrastructure would not provide for all of the people who need it, traveling drones could circulate 5G networks to all that need it. A farmer who is trying to use a cellular device on a large plot of land could have a personal unmanned aerial vehicle that would travel with them as they inspect the whole field, ensuring that their 5G network never experiences an interruption.
- Emerging countries are especially willing to build 5G infrastructure as it is more affordable than previous internet structures and proves to have a large payoff. The implementation of 4G networks is often more expensive with less energy efficiency, sustainability and economic increase, causing developing countries to jump straight into adding 5G infrastructure. India, Turkey, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Russia, Qatar, Oman and Uruguay have been some of the first countries to modify their industrial transformation programs. In addition, due to the fact that many western developed countries have banned or restricted 5G data networks until recently, major 5G players such as China have increasingly marketed to developing nations.
Currently, 5G internet is accessible mostly in urban areas due to population density, but rural areas will not lag far behind if areas put the right infrastructure in place. South African cities and Cape Town were the first in Africa to see 5G due to the growth of Rain, a South African company. These seven facts about how 5G internet could reduce poverty show that it holds a bright future for many of the developing countries and will be a key player in the coming years.
– Nitya Marimuthu