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EDITORIAL How 5G could literally help save the world – and what that means for telemedia

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As gatherings of the great and good, rich and powerful go it’s quite something, but enough about last week’s excellent return of World Telemedia as a live event, we need to look ahead to next week’s COP26 Environment Summit in Scotland, where world leaders are set to talk a lot of hot air about how to save the world.

While the talk is good for getting the ball rolling on climate change, what is really needed is action – and 5G may just be one of the technologies that can help.

According to a study by Mobile UK out this week, 5G, including technologies such as the Internet of Things, telematics, and existing mobile technologies, will help underpin efforts to reach net-zero and mitigate climate change. This report sets out how 5G can help facilitate these efforts and calls on policy makers to focus on enabling faster deployment and adoption of 5G technologies.

Mobile UK’s report explores, both through its own analysis and external research, how 5G-enabled technology, underpinned by mobile networks, could support the combined G7 manufacturing sectors to reduce their total carbon emissions by 1% during the period 2020-2035. This equates to roughly 75% of the annual carbon emissions of France. In addition, research suggests the energy and utilities sectors could reduce emissions globally by 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2e between 2020-2030.

Furthermore, in the transportation sector, 5G could power solutions with the potential to remove 6.6 to 9.3 tonnes of CO2e a year, while in the agricultural sector the research suggests that drones and sensors connected to 5G networks could have the potential to support smart, low carbon farming practices that can reduce industry emissions by as much as one tonne of CO2e by 2035.

Not only could this be a useful tool to help climate change, it is also going to generate revenues for all those connected with developing solutions that can utilise 5G networks for these sorts of processes.

According to Juniper Research, these private cellular networks that are needed to deliver such services could bring in an annual spend on network hardware and services of almost $12 billion globally by 2023, growing 116% from the $5.5 billion expected for 2021.

These networks will be almost entirely business driven, it says. The most prominent sectors will be manufacturing, mining, and the energy industry; accounting for 59% of spend in 2023.

While many telemedia companies are connected with sports and entertainment services, there is a massive opportunity here. Private networks are going to need equipment, management and people to build and develop the apps and services that run on them that will help control the process over which they are responsible.

Network operators, focussed on public network expansion could find an opportunity here, but often there are already to finely spread to take on such a challenge.

Instead new entrants are likely to forge ahead making this happen – and they are going to need expert help in messaging, content delivery, service creation, app and web development and more. They may even need someone to aggregate private networks and offer them as a service to smaller players. Who knows.

The point is, as the world watches what is happening at the COP26, telemedia companies could do well to start thinking about where they can get involved on the ground in using the tech they have to create solutions that could, quite literally, save the world.

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