2020 will be a pivotal year for 5G - the fifth generation of wireless technology that cuts across all business sectors is already transforming the world. With speeds  100 times faster than current 4G networks, we are excited to see the upcoming opportunities that 5G will unleash in the future. Here are the key questions that we need to address on 5G technology:

How will 5G impact Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 will enable better convergence between digital and physical technologies in the industrial world. Manufacturing companies, for example, are in need of approved efficiencies and processes, which can be gained by technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, that can both support and augment human processes. 5G with Edge computing can deliver the low latency and high privacy that this technology needs to communicate in near real-time, which is important for many mission critical industrial tasks.

5G networks also offer the capacity to support the IoT (Internet of Things) on a huge scale in an industrial setting. According to a  McKinsey report, IoT could add $3.7 billion in value to factories by 2025. One of the ways it achieves this is by boosting productivity in the supply chain by as much as 15%. Connected devices are able to monitor the performance of equipment and workers, collecting data along every step of the manufacturing process, allowing inefficiencies that otherwise would go unseen to be diagnosed and addressed. Telecoms operators will be critical to support industry 4.0 and can help develop networks designed for the specific requirements of heavy industries, like manufacturing.

What will 5G’s impact be on the healthcare sector?

The healthcare sector can gain huge advancements with the growth of 5G. It is the ideal technology for sending and receiving large files. Medical reports like MRIs, PET scans and sonography are heavy image files (approximately 1Gb), and operating on such data-heavy files requires a responsive network that can support high-bandwidth connectivity. Transmission of medical reports that would generally span a few hours would take much less time due to faster 5G connectivity – a very important development for emergency situations.

5G connectivity can provide a reliable high-speed connection to support equipment such as drones that can enable medics to remotely monitor patients and analyze data patterns, enabling them to advise patients more quickly. In addition, innovative medical solutions built using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) would eventually make inroads with 5G. These solutions can be used to enhance the patient experience, or improve the way that medical students learn – imagine a trainee surgeon being able to see digital images of veins, anatomy and data on real bodies.

How will consumers experience 5G in 2020?

Major chipset vendors are focused on building faster and power-efficient 5G modem chipsets. At the same time, major handset manufacturers are focusing on bringing more 5G enabled smart-phones to the market. This will result in a wider range of 5G handsets available at different price points, which should lead to a higher rate of adoption.

5G Visitors at the 5G Exhibition at the Qualcomm booth at CES 2019 consumer electronics show at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Jan. 10, 2019. Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

We are starting to see more companies, particularly in the retail sector, harness the power of AR and VR. 5G enables both to thrive as they are largely dependent on network performance – a sluggish network can dampen the entire experience.

So, whether you want to see what a new pair of glasses looks like on your own face or how a new sofa would fit into your living room, 5G can bring both to life. With blazingly fast, low-latency 5G connectivity, the use of AR and VR in retail will not only become immersive but also become mobile. 5G will enhance the online-shopping experience irrespective of whether the consumer chooses to use a phone or tablet.

What technologies will be delivering 5G?

5G is changing the network’s anatomy. With 5G, a network can be arranged into different slices – at different price points – to cater to the diverse needs of applications and content. One physical infrastructure with multiple different arrangements. Never before have networks had such flexibility, agility and programmability.

The priority for operators in 2020 will be how they can modernize their core operations and accelerate innovation using virtualized and software-defined networks. This approach, often referenced as the move to a cloud-native network, will help operators leverage technology such as AI, data analytics and DevOps, to improve both consumer and business services.

It’s an exciting time to be leading an organization at the forefront of the 5G revolution. I look forward to continuing to provide answers to the key questions facing business leaders as they strive to successfully ride the 5G growth wave.

(CP Gurnani is the managing director and CEO of Tech Mahindra)