By Neil Aitken
5G is Superfast Mobile Data and it will affect Social Media in a number of ways
5G will affect our lives in ways it is hard to imagine. It will provide high bandwidth connections between autonomous vehicles to improve safety. It could lead to the smartphone’s demise. One of its key features, low power consumption will enable the ‘Internet Of things’ from both a consumer and business perspective.
For the world as a whole, the scope of 5G will apply to productivity measures in all industries at once, leading to huge economic benefits. The impact that 5G has on us could be change us so fundamentally it will be as disruptive like electricity or the internet itself. Its effects on social media will be no less significant.
Autonomous cars mean we will spend longer on social networks
5G is consistently raised as one of the technical features which will feature in the manifestation and uptake of autonomous vehicles. In the event that two self driving cars, both equipped with 5G internet connections ‘realize’ that they will collide, one will be able to message the other so that both can pop the airbags. The fraction of a second during which a human driver would freeze from fear will be an eternity to a connected car, long enough to put in place safety measures that will save lives.
Social media is one of the key things people like to do with their spare time. With commute times increasing, people will have more spare time when cars drive themselves. In fact, encouraging us to spend more time online, using their services is likely why tech companies like Google invested so much in driverless cars.
Social Media is personal and could be one of the few reasons to have a ‘phone’
5G networks have (near) zero latency – that means there is no perceptible time taken by the network to respond to a user request. That could have an enormous impact on the type of devices we use. Phones could turn in to the handheld equivalents of Chromebooks requiring less processing power to run simple browsers as our interface to the web based services we need.
Overall, we may use our smartphones a lot less because of 5G. Rival access technologies like Vusix glasses and AI based personal assistants are likely to become more convenient ways to interface with the internet.
One of the few thing we will use smartphones for in the future is to undertake our social media activities. Most social media is ‘just content’ and therefore requires only a ‘thin client’ – of the sort that even the most basic computing device requires. Smartphones are also great at keeping information private and available on your own terms. They can be read in silence and scanned until you find something interesting, at which point you can delve deeper. It’s your timeline, they’re your Tweets. You may not want everyone around you to see your private social information. Contrast that with a personal assistant programme which reads out the comments in your account.
5G will help us discover what’s going on in the world
One of the features of 5G is that it consumes very low level of power. This facility alone will sit behind the Internet Of Things allowing sensors and computing devices to be a part of every building, consumer product and every other part of our lives. The low power requirement means sensors, once established, can be kept in place for years on a single battery.
The information these sensors will produce will be used by companies – including Facebook and others – to target advertising towards us specifically. There is an information component to advertising. If you’re shown an advert which is relevant to you, it can be useful. It’s where adverts are irrelevant that they become annoying. Facebooks advertising business goes from strength to strength and will continue to as the Internet Of Things feeds the engines which target you with the things you want when you want them.
Social Media Will Include More video
From the perspective of mobile data consumption, Facebook’s decision to ‘auto-play’ videos was controversial, at the time it was implemented in 2013. On balance, however, Facebook users accepted the upgrade as an improvement – something which enhanced their experience of the product.
Things get used more often when they work quickly. Page load times, especially on mobile are one of the key features Google uses to determine the rank of the pages it recommends. The long it takes your page to load, the less Google will love you.
5G has ‘slicing’ facilities. Slicing is the ability to assign priority to users or online tasks within a data stream. For example, to avoid the experience of ‘stuttering’ video playback, a ‘slice’ of bandwidth could be applied to the 5G data stream which will ensure it takes priority over something which requires only asynchronous response – such as an email with a large attachment.
5G will lead to increased adoption of video calling and live streaming. When these services work more reliably, they will be better patronized.
5G will lead to real life interactions in a digital world
Finally, 5G’s bandwidth will lead to and evolution in the way we interact online which is equally hard to imagine as Social Media itself was before it arrived. 5G standards will be in place for at least 10 years, just as 4G and 3G before them.
Facebook’s $2bn Artificial Reality Oculus Rift purchases hint at what Facebook will use 5G for. Bandwidth which is, by today’s standards now infinite under 5G, can provide higher resolution versions of yourself and the people you want to interact with, connecting you to them wherever they are so you can share what’s important to you both.
5G is just around the corner
The ramifications of 5G will be felt across all industries. This article simply covers the ramifications of 5G on Social Media. We’ve become incredibly used to Social Media, a phenomenon which has not been around for long, even in computing terms. If the world has changed a lot since Facebook and its counterparts arrived, it’s going to change a lot more soon. 5G arrives in 2020.
Neil Aitken has worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos in a variety of digital strategy roles and now being involved in a start-up focused on the potential for educational testing delivered through mobiles, Neil has a unique insight in to technology for the region. @njaau