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Will 5G Make 2024 the Industrial Economy’s Most Connected Year Yet?

5G broadband networks are viewed by many as a business-first digital innovation and enterprise revolution.

And that isn’t because, from a consumer standpoint, 5G networks are just around the corner from being just around the corner as we head into 2024.

It’s because 5G broadband networks give a significant boost to data transfer speeds and allow for highly integrated digital connection, and the rapid rise in digital connectivity over the past decade has radically transformed enterprise and industrial operations while accelerating the importance of real-time data and operational connectivity.

Carriers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are leaning into the new year with major 5G technology and performance upgrades, and even purpose-built devices.

On Wednesday (Dec. 6), Verizon and Zebra Technologies announced the launch of purpose-built mobile device and software solutions designed to help Verizon Private 5G customers simplify processes for their frontline workers in transportation and logistics, retail, manufacturing, and other industries.

Verizon Private 5G, as the name heavily implies, is a private 5G network for enterprises that can be customized to their needs.

Read alsoConnectivity Defined the Past Decade — Interoperability Will Shape the Next

“Private 5G represents a significant inflection point in wireless connectivity — providing a major technology and performance upgrade that will drive enhanced visibility and operational benefits for enterprise customers,” said Julie Johnson, senior vice president and general manager of enterprise mobile computing, Zebra Technologies.

Also on Wednesday, T-Mobile announced that in partnership with Ericsson and Qualcomm it was able to test 5G standalone millimeter wave on its production network, delivering speeds topping 4.3 Gbps — a network first.

Rounding out the drumbeat of 5G pushes, on Monday (Dec. 4), AT&T, in collaboration with Ericsson, announced that it plans to spend roughly $14 billion over the next five years on infrastructure critical to commercially scaling open radio access networks (open RAN) across the U.S.

5G’s Importance

In today’s shifting economic landscape, equipping industry with reliable and fast communication and intricate process management has never been more crucial.

That’s because as 2024 approaches, agility, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are the name of the game for businesses looking to compete and win. 5G networks offer the best way to power the connectivity required for these innovations.

“The Industrial 4.0 revolution was based on digitization, and it’s starting to mature now,” Prateek Kathpal, president and CEO of SymphonyAI Industrial, told PYMNTS in an interview posted Dec. 1.

Firms both want and expect 5G to drive better visibility around things like inventory ordering, forecasting and analysis, preventative maintenance, real-time asset management, and more, depending on the sector in which they operate.

“Businesses are realizing that there is a cost to some of the legacy things that they’re doing, and that it can be an impediment to making their business efficient,” Robin Gregg, CEO at RoadSync, told PYMNTS. “I think businesses now understand that no matter how traditional they are, how they’ve been operating, that now is the time to update how they work.”

See also: What Electric Vehicles, Impossible Foods and Buy Now, Pay Later Teach Us About Early Adopters

The Connective Tissue

Expectations within the logistics and shipping sector, as well as the B2B landscape more broadly, are becoming increasingly consumerized as firms see granular, real-time insights as a key value-add and competitive differentiator.

5G can positively impact business outcomes by enabling better insights, improved productivity, accelerated use of automation, better application performance, and the ability for hyper-rapid transaction settlements and other digital payment advances that can remove frictions while supporting growth.

“There’s a huge number of APIs [application programming interfaces] being created by carriers for rating, booking, dispatch, tracking, proof of delivery — all of these things being generated electronically,” Will Hansmann, the former chief technology officer at logistics technology firm project44, told PYMNTS, “The world is only growing more digitized, connected and efficient.”

Interconnected ecosystems powered by 5G allow for more sophisticated and efficient monitoring and control of devices, leading to improved automation, predictive maintenance, and overall operational optimization.

As 5G continues to roll out globally, businesses are at the forefront of a digital transformation revolution. The ultra-fast speeds, low latency, and enhanced connectivity offered by 5G are reshaping the way businesses operate, collaborate, and engage with their customers. Embracing this technology is not just an option; it’s a strategic imperative.