What is 5G? And What Does it Mean for Supply Chain? (Infographic)

What is 5G?

There was a time not that long ago when there were no cell phones or smart phones. Now they are literally billions of smartphones and cell phones. This doesn’t even include the number of desktops, laptops, tablets, and all other internet enabled electronic devices.

The latest technology that will be driving this massive infrastructure is 5G. Much as with all of the technologies before it the latest generation of technology will lead to profound advances in capabilities.

This will invariably impact the Supply Chain of the future.

What is 5G technology? And how exactly will it impact Supply Chain?

Technology Evolution: 1G to 5G

1G, or first generation, technology represents the advent of Analog mobile phones and mobile device connectivity. This would represent the first type of mobile phone I would have. I remember it being so odd seeing someone driving and talking on their new mobile phone.

2G brought the introduction of digital technology, text messaging and basic data capabilities. I remember a great friend of mine sending me my first text message, unaware of how this technology would literally explode and become an integral form of communication. Picture messages could be sent as well.

3G technology brought mobile broadband and smartphones. I had a Blackberry device and the ability to send and receive emails from your mobile device was astonishing. Later on I got my first iPhone which was so user friendly it was hard not to be hooked immediately.

4G improved broadband speed and access, and brought new internet protocol communication standards. High quality video streaming was a new capability.

Which all brings us to 5G. 5G technological capability really enables the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) with much faster speeds and improved connectivity and reliability. It will be 1000 times faster than 4G and handle 10000 times more traffic.

5G increases data rates from 1GB/second to 20GB/second, increases data traffic from 7.2 exabytes/month to 50 exabytes/month and reduces latency from 10ms to <1ms. Device connectivity will improve from 100k devices/sq km to 1M devices/sq km and the available spectrum will increase from 3GHz to 30GHz.

What are the Benefits of 5G in Action?

With all of that improvement in speed and reliability the number of interconnected devices and applications is set to explode at an even greater pace. Instant, real time connectivity for all of those devices will have profound implications.

Let’s go back to the Internet of Things. 5G will enable the rapid connectivity of many more devices. Think about the proliferation of autonomous vehicles, smart home and smart city connectivity, connected healthcare, the deployment of sensors everywhere to enable Industry 4.0 and the Digital Supply Chain, blockchain deployment, and advancements in virtual reality, augmented reality, big data and artificial intelligence.

This capability will be deployed at lower cost than in the past driving higher productivity through more advanced technology implementation and greater connectivity, speed and reliability.

What is 5G

What does 5G mean for Supply Chain?

We have spent a lot of time at Supply Chain Game Changer discussing the Digital Supply Chain, and 5G provides the infrastructure and capability to make the Digital Supply Chain a reality for all and not just for some.

At the core of the Digital Supply Chain is end-to-end electronic connectivity. The ability to track the movement of goods and information in real time throughout every aspect of a Supply Chain anywhere and everywhere in the world is the core of this technology platform. 5G enables the tracking of 10 times more devices with unprecedented speed and responsiveness.

The micro-movement of goods and the performance of automated equipment throughout Manufacturing processes (Industry 4.0), in transit, in Warehouses and Distribution Centres and in all channels will be tracked and analyzed in real time. Transportation modes, including autonomous vehicles and drones, will be tracked and routed optimally to reach their destinations safely and on time.

Control Towers will be fuelled by instantaneous advanced analytics and artificial intelligence decision making. The remote control of devices and movement of goods located anywhere from anywhere will be a reality. And all of the Big Data behind this will be handled more rapidly and efficiently in bigger quantities than ever before.


As 5G rolls out around the world we will all begin to experience the benefits of this new technology both in our personal and professional lives.

It is an exciting time for sure. In the field of Supply Chain the many technologies that we discuss as a part of the Digital Supply Chain are really enabled by the faster speeds, reduced latency and greater bandwidth that 5G technology provides.

Take the time now to research more about 5G and ensure that your company has incorporated this technology into your Supply Chain roadmaps and strategies. You should know that your competitors are doing that very thing even if you are not.

Originally published on June 9, 2020.