5G networks are the next generation of the internet and they’re coming to a metro-area near you. Nearly all of the major communications companies are beginning to install 5G infrastructure. Additionally, a range of devices enabled for the technology are emerging in the marketplace. The network’s benefits will affect almost every area of our world and help millions. Here’s how.

Fast, reliable connections

Imagine if every time you flipped on a light switch you had to wait for the electricity to be delivered to you in a thin stream. Your light bulb would brighten slowly and eventually show a strong enough glow to see by. Currently, that’s what it is like to wait for your favorite movie, song, or other media to download. All of this can change with a 5G network which is expected to have the capacity of data rates of 1G or more per second and possibly much higher.  With it, your movie download could take just a few seconds. That’s a little longer than turning on a light but not much.

A pretty slick demonstration of the network took place in the Samsung Booth at this year’s Mobile World Commerce tradeshow. The company featured a smartphone streaming a Major League Baseball Game through a 5G network. Not only were the speeds spectacularly fast but users could easily use an app to switch between camera angles for the game. One minute they could see the view from behind home plate and the next minute they could watch the game from the outfield.

A boost for businesses

5G’s speed should have a particular appeal to businesses that need to send big files securely. This is especially true for businesses that use a lot of design, graphics, and video. In fact, metro areas where 5G networks are being deployed first may see a bump of businesses locating to their areas just to take advantage of the technology.

While larger businesses may already have spent money on expensive workarounds to solve connectivity problems, smaller companies may not have. With 5G technology, even a home business would have the same functionality, speed, and security as their larger counterparts.

Better functioning devices

New 5G networks will make it easier than ever to connect devices to each other so they can do more. Imagine how simple it would be to link your drone with your smartphone, download photos or data in real time, and then quickly change complex functions on your drone as needed. Or imagine being able to easily connect personal devices to your home monitoring system or an appliance like your fridge. This access will let you make changes to your home systems on the fly from anywhere based on constantly updated information.

But the story on devices and 5G gets better. Because they can access data more efficiently on next-generation networks, it is predicted devices will able to work better. Users will see these benefits in unexpected ways. One example is longer battery life. Devices like phones and tablets will use less energy if they don’t have to work as hard to get data.

Learning on 5G

Faster networks are likely to impact how students learn at home, in school, with parents, and with their teachers. Initially, high speeds can mean easy access to video content that supports their lessons. It will also allow classrooms to remote into other venues like museums or libraries for virtual field trips or group Q&A with experts.

With 5G, students may be able to participate in collaborative online video learning sessions with peers or allow remote learners to connect with teachers and other experts from the comfort of their home desk. When needed, parents will be able to connect in with student classrooms or more easily have student materials available to help support homework.

5G is a game changer for doctors and hospitals

Medicine is also going to be impacted by 5G. The faster network is expected to change hospital operations, emergency care, and the overall patient experience. Hospitals are so excited about it that they’re striving to use it as quickly as they can. Chicago’s Rush System for Health recently announced it is the first to use 5G standardsin a healthcare setting.

Their enthusiasm is understandable. 5G speeds can help ambulances in transport get better data to the ER during patient transport. It can facilitate better telemedicine practices and allow for easier surgical consultations. It will almost certainly affect radiology and allow doctor’s faster access to data during emergency situations. It will improve efficiency and possibly lower the costs of a hospital’s administrative departments.

Working out some kinks

As with any new technology, there are still a few kinks to work out that may affect how quickly the network is adopted. For starters, the networks are new and possibly not as expensive or reliable as they may ultimately be. In addition, personal smartphones and tablets that can run on the new networks maintain a fairly high price point and can be well upwards of $1,000 each. Furthermore, not many devices are made for 5G networks yet, though they’re coming.

5G is likely to be the future

Regardless, 5G networks are likely to be the future. The possibilities for how applications run on the network can power everything humans too is too irresistible. That enthusiasm alone will power the network’s development until one day, we may wonder how we ever lived without it.