While COVID-19 has turned technology into another symbol of the income-divide, 5G aims to turn technology into an inclusive platform.
The pandemic has been credited for many destructions: lives, infrastructure, companies. But perhaps the most chronic and devastating effect would be the one on education. It was a well-recognized fact that education is a privilege that the few can afford (but never cherish).
Sure, schools being constructed, laws being passed were seminal in the development of literacy in our country. But the pandemic diminished all those efforts in one single swoop. Because a new form of education arose that our country was unequipped to implement yet was compelled to.
And with it, a new form of inequality.
Like never before, the entire world was dependent on digital connectivity. While for most of us, connectivity was an easy (albeit frustratingly weak) feat, for some, it was a hunger that they never had the chance to satisfy. It had never been clearer how unequal technology really was.
Even with the creation of COVID-19 vaccines, digitalization of life won’t halt.
But with recent developments in technology, it seems like the very cause of the problem may become the solution.
5G’s key features
5G has been in the works since the 1980s and is the fifth generation technology standard for cellular networks.
5G offers fast connectivity, an unparalleled computing power, extremely low latency, increased reliability and availability, endless storage capacity, enables Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Vehicles (IoV).
An experience that remains uniform to all of its users by virtue of the fact that it connects people in ways never before.
Needless to say, all of this (no matter how utopian it may sound) is a recipe for a more equitable and connected world. While people across diverse backgrounds could get access to the same level of network connectivity, industries would also come together as a result of employing 5G networks.
Technology has been getting cheaper but there still lies a major divide between the haves and the have-nots. One of 5G’s features: mobile-edge computing or MEC provides users with an endless storage capacity. If the mobile network provides storage, then laptops, phones and tablets would come into markets at a much cheaper price because it wouldn’t require high storage capacities anymore.
Not just the conventional electronic gadgets, but also aspects like virtual reality (VR) could become more accessible: $ 1,000 VR sets would become $ 100 when 5G would be incorporated. This makes it easier for realms like education and entertainment to apply these into transforming education.
But 5G as an independent entity will have barely any impact. The tech industry’s role becomes seminal in making sure this technology is put to good use. And as expected, many organisations are already pledging to extend their resources for this cause.
World Economic Forum, for one, claims that one of their top priorities is to provide high-speed network technologies to under-resourced schools throughout the United States. Not just tech companies but industry associations, regulators, network operators need to ensure that resources are properly allocated to maximise the benefits of this cellular network.
5G is a pinnacle in bridging multiple gaps that the technological industry has widened: between different income groups, between the educated and the not-so-educated, between generations, between genders, between families. If the tech industry maintains its promises.