5G ETFs: supporting the technology that could enhance smart cities.

5G ETFs are an opportunity to invest in the future of smart cities.

Investment in the 5G rollout  is taking off, with 5G ETFs set to offer flexible and diversified access to this market. 5G capacity could be essential to the spread of smart cities and we believe these two groundbreaking technologies are poised to revolutionize urban life in the coming decades.

What is 5G?

5G describes the innovation and infrastructure that will facilitate faster speeds, more functionality and lower latency in mobile phone technology. Its deployment has the potential to empower the network to provide high-speed ubiquitous connectivity to a greatly increased number of sensors or devices. It may also regulate their use, including prioritization, increased reliability and reduced redundancy. The significant extension of small cell deployment involved in 5G could improve speed, capacity, specialization and diversification in the network. It will likely facilitate for example, the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous driving, and significant developments in the use of virtual or augmented reality (VR/AR) products. Ericsson have predicted major 5G deployments from 2020, which  other analysts see as a prerequisite for extending smart city capabilities.

What are smart cities?

Urban centers that integrate technology into the local infrastructure in order to gather data to maximize efficiency, minimize energy use and improve quality of life, are collectively termed “smart cities.” The term encompasses a vast array of initiatives and aspirations, from smart street lighting which responds to pedestrian activity and environmental factors, to automated vehicles in car convoys implementing sophisticated ride-sharing and smart parking.

Smart cities aim to improve public safety through technology that covers a range of areas from crime surveillance and prevention to flood warnings. They are also designed to enhance transport systems, streamline city living to save time and costs and improve the environment.

Early initiatives in London for example, involve sensor networks monitoring traffic flow and a local government services smartphone app. However experts envision future smart cities as fully-connected mini ecosystems of highly efficient networks. In a 5G-enabled smart city, technology could have the capacity to process information from millions of devices and render residents as active participants in a locality’s use of resources and its operation.

5G may make cities smarter

Smart cities are predicated on connectivity and advanced machine learning techniques to process vast amounts of collected data. 5G’s infrastructure of hundreds of small antennae strategically positioned to ensure speed and network capacity are recognized by industry experts as essential elements of a truly smart city. In addition, 5G may enable mobile network operators to offer sectors or specific services a virtual portion of the network. This “slicing” innovation could allow for customization of service and charges. It may be an essential element in a smart city whose emergency response crews for example, cannot risk losing connectivity due to an overload in social media activity. Indeed a  recent survey of 900 companies across 10 sectors found that 61% saw having their own virtual, customized “slice” of the network as a key technological motivator driving towards 5G adoption.

5G ETFs and Smart Cities: Challenges and Opportunities

Inhibitors to the 5G rollout will therefore directly impact the pace of development regarding smart cities. These include the  remaining technological challenges to 5G implementation, but primarily the potential legal, financial or administrative barriers. The evolution of the smart city will depend on local leaders streamlining bureaucratic processes for the rapid deployment of 5G. Planning permission, access to public buildings and existing mobile network fee structures must allow for the installation of hundreds of antennae around the metropolis.

It is unclear whether the 5G and smart city alliance will drastically boost the employment market. However, together they are likely to stimulate companies towards fostering new skill sets, original financing approaches and a stronger emphasis on civic association.