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Unpacking the impact of 5G on business and healthcare

5G will be important for Australian businesses and healthcare in the future as it will help them move into the 'fourth industrial revolution'.

We recently unpacked this concept with Dr David Soldani Adjunct Professor at UNSW, who has spent 25 years in the ICT career, 10 years with telecommunications giant Huawei and 15 years with Finnish mobile brand Nokia.

Dr Soldani says the fourth industrial revolution will see the convergence of three fundamental enabling technologies.

"The first one, big data and then we have artificial intelligence on top, the third one connected networks and that is about 5G because it has to be a wireless pervasive performing infrastructure," he says.

"If you think about the many applications that 5G supports, in particular, I'm thinking of the shift in paradigm from the current communication network, which simply connects our voices, to a system that could provide a number of service applications, especially for vertical industries."

Dr Soldani says you may think of a different business to business approach, a new business model enabled by the network slicing concept.

"As an organisation, for example, a small-medium enterprise, you can select the functions you need, compose your network and pay-as-you-go, similar to cloud computing," he adds.

Misconceptions about 5G

With new technology comes misconceptions on how it works, 5G is a classic example. According to Dr Soldani there are many interesting false stories about 5G, one of them focuses on 5G spreading Coronavirus.

"[It's been] demonstrated that it is utterly untrue. Despite this, there have been many attacks, especially in the UK and Italy, where people have destroyed the base station sites," he says.

Another rumour centres around electromagnetic field emission.

"People have been told that the 5G damages, due to radiation, our DNA and causes cancer, which is also untrue," Dr Soldani says. "That was demonstrated in the latest report, analysis and guidelines by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which shows that the level of radiation, and, in particular, our exposure to 5G electromagnetic field emission would be lower than to previous technologies, such as 3G and 4G."

The final misconception which is prominent in Australia focuses on the radio access network (RAN) that cannot be separated from the core network and therefore certain threats, especially coming from certain countries, cannot be mitigated.

"That's also basically not true as the 5G system has exactly the same architecture as the 4G," he says. "The RAN and the core are separated and multi-vendor. There is no way a function of the radio access system of any one vendor could blur into a core network of another supplier. Impossible."

5G in healthcare

5G contributions within healthcare will be about bringing the necessary services we need, especially when we get old in our place without going to the hospital.

Dr Soldani uses an example, "The connectivity to robotic platforms will allow an old person to remain active and independent, especially from family members. The robotic platform, connected with 5G, will be available at much lower cost than caretakers, and that practically means I could use these robotic platforms to remain active and independent in my house."

Other benefits that come to healthcare through 5G is digital twinning.

"If you think of wearable devices, it is possible that our body could be represented as a digital object and therefore all possible measurements and related analysis could be made not on our body, but simply looking at the data arriving," he says. "Thanks to 5G on this particular digital platform I can be examined at home nicely without visiting the doctor or going to the hospital."

Future of data and technology

Dr Soldani notes two things he is very excited about when it comes to the future of data and technology.

The first is achieving a fully immersive and interactive experience, "It is about not only communicating but having a chance to deal with holographic rendering so that we are fully immersed in mastering that particular scene."

Secondly, it is about achieving anything as a service.

"If you think of cloud computing today we may have any Software as a Service," he says. "We can have that as a Platform as a Service, or even Infrastructure as a Service. I would like to think beyond that like artificial intelligence could be accessible as a service, knowledge could be available as a service.

"The machine could be offered as a service. If you think of machine a service, such as a robotic platform as a service, you no longer need to perform those tasks and neither to buy the robot itself, but you just pay for the service you need, including the car could be driverless or even tele-operated, but still is something that could be given to us as a service and just pay-as-you-go."

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