By {{Article.AuthorName}} | {{Article.PublicationDate.slice(6, -2) | date:'EEEE, MMMM d, y'}}
{{TotalFavorites}} Favorite{{TotalFavorites>1? 's' : ''}}

Ten years ago, when the very first 4G networks started to roll out, no one anticipated just how they would transform the way we live and work. It may be hard to remember now, but imagine a time without smartphones, the app economy, ride sharing and more. After a decade of innovation on top of the 4G platform, mobile broadband permeates every aspect of our lives.

The impact stretches across our economy. A recent report from Recon Analytics found that 4G enabled more than 20 million U.S. jobs over the past 10 years. That’s one out of every six new jobs since 2010. And thanks to 4G, the wireless industry contributed more than $690B to U.S. GDP—10% of U.S. GDP growth—over the same period. Most of those jobs, and much of that economic impact, was realized across diverse industries, from education, and health care to construction, as mobile broadband introduced new ways of working and new opportunities.

Now we stand at the dawn of a 5G decade and a new, 5G economy. Already the U.S. boasts three nationwide 5G networks. As with 4G, the speed and performance of these new 5G networks will increase dramatically in the coming years. In fact, they’re expected to become up to 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks, connect more than 100 times the number of devices and be five times more responsive.

A new report from Boston Consulting Group gives us a sense of the impact. Over the course of the next 10 years, 5G is expected to be responsible for adding 4.5 million new jobs and add $1.5 trillion to U.S. GDP. The report also projects impact across specific industries. In construction, Boston Consulting Group projects 5G will add $126 billion in GDP and create upwards of 450 million jobs.

The Impact of 5G on Construction

The initial impact on the construction industry will come as a result of the ongoing network deployment. With Boston Construction Group projecting the buildout alone to add up to $500 billion in GDP and up to one million new jobs, there are tremendous opportunities presented by the need to deploy a large number of new 5G cell sites, adding 5G small cells to existing structures such as light poles and buildings, and through the construction of edge computing data centers.

Over time, however, 5G will deliver remarkable new capabilities to the construction industry; although, as with the earliest days of 4G, all we can do at the moment is speculate.

Picture autonomous vehicles bringing supplies to worksites or, even more transformative, autonomous construction machinery tearing down or building walls. 5G’s speed and latency make both possible.

For particularly complex or dangerous construction work that requires human intervention, imagine remote operations—manipulating machinery from afar. The same technology can also enable remote monitoring of infrastructure, delivering a more accurate and real-time sense of the health and integrity of physical infrastructure, providing construction teams with better information on when and where repairs are needed.

5G is a key enabler of advanced augmented and virtual reality applications, and these could prove hugely impactful for the construction industry, providing the ability for teams on-site and off to collaborate more effectively over fully-rendered, 3D immersive models of the project at hand. And 5G sensors can help ensure the safety of workers on site, monitoring their location and status across the worksite.

These are just a few potential applications of 5G in a construction context and, for now, they remain speculative but realistic. The truth is, as with 4G, 5G provides a kind of sandbox for entrepreneurs and other innovators to use to develop new, entirely unanticipated use cases.

The World Economic Forum and others, recognizing 5G’s transformative potential, have called it key to unlocking a fourth industrial revolution. We may not know how that will play out any more than hobbyists tinkering with the first personal computers knew what they were actually building 40 years ago, but what we do know for certain is that 5G will provide the connectivity and power to do things that were never before possible on a construction site, or anywhere else.


 Comments ({{Comments.length}})

  • {{comment.Name}}


    {{comment.DateCreated.slice(6, -2) | date: 'MMM d, y h:mm:ss a'}}

Leave a comment

Required! Not valid email!