5G Revolution: Unlocking the Digital Age
Imagine if you were to jump straight from using a typewriter one day, to typing on a laptop the next. The speed and ease at which it would improve your tasks is undeniable.
With 5G, we’re on the cusp of a similar transition in the global communications system. Total connectivity could soon be at our fingertips.
Today’s infographic breaks down the potential that 5G promises, and the immense opportunities stemming from its implications for smart tech and the Internet of Things (IoT).
A Timeline of Wireless Generations
The world’s appetite for wireless speed has been insatiable. We’ve powered through five generations of wireless connectivity in just 40 years.
- 1982-1990s: Analog 1G
1G only supported voice calls, and little else.
Data bandwidth: 1.9 kbps
- 1990s: Digital 2G
2G supported text, picture, and multimedia messaging (SMS, MMS).
Data bandwidth: 14.4 kbps – 384 kbps
- 2000s: 3G Smartphone Era
The first 3G networks go online, supporting high-quality audio and video, and international roaming.
Data bandwidth: 2 Mbps
- 2010: 4G Streaming Era
4G and LTE supported HD video streaming, and is deployed in Europe, and later in the U.S.
Data bandwidth: 2 Mbps – 1 Gbps
- 2019-Present: Full Speed Ahead to 5G?
South Korea first launches 5G across the country, followed by 50 cities in China. The U.S., UK, and Germany also roll out 5G on a limited basis.
Data bandwidth: 1 Gbps – >10 Gbps
*k/M/Gbps: kilobytes/ megabytes/ gigabytes per second.
The global 5G market is projected to reach $668 billion at a 122% compound annual growth rate (2020-2026), with nearly half this growth coming from Asia-Pacific.
4G versus 5G: What’s the Difference?
5G is on the verge of taking off. What sets it apart from its predecessor?
For starters, 5G’s speed improvements are something to behold—it is up to 20x faster than 4G. On 4G, an average movie takes 6 minutes to download. With 5G, it will take less than 20 seconds.
Peak data date
|125 megabytes/second||2,500 Mbs|
Devices supported per km²
|100,000 devices/km²||1,000,000 devices/km²|
Delay/ lag time
|50 milliseconds||<2 ms|
In other benefits, 5G supports 10x more devices per square kilometer. As a result, 5G will be able to seamlessly handle many more devices, within the same area as before. This is pivotal for its use in the imminent Internet of Things (IoT).
Finally, latency is the delay (lag), or the time that it takes to send data from point A to point B. With 5G, latency plunges 25x compared to 4G. This results in almost instantaneous data transfers.
5G will go from promise to roll-out in 2020.
Beyond the Smartphone
5G is one of the most anticipated technologies of our time, and with good reason. In the coming years, the partnership between 5G and the IoT could bring about a boom in smart tech, and this effect could trickle into growth for the economy and investor portfolios.
The 5G network is the perfect backbone for the IoT—supporting increasing device numbers, facilitating growing data transfers, and improving response time among connected devices.
According to McKinsey, 5G will likely speed up the mainstream adoption of the IoT across multiple industries:
5G enables self-driving cars to make “split second” decisions, making them safer. These cars can also connect to buildings, street lights, other cars, and even pedestrians in smart cities—responding rapidly to any issues and improving traffic flow.
These two use cases are estimated to bring a $170-$280 billion global GDP boost to the mobility sector by 2030.
5G could usher in high-tech industry, using AR/VR to boost productivity and precision. Analytics and advanced robotics in smart factories can streamline manufacturing processes, leading to efficiency gains and cost savings. Altogether, the impact could be a $400-$650 billion GDP boost to the industry by 2030.
While robotic surgeries are not new, 5G could allow these procedures to occur remotely.
Wearables and other smart medical devices provide real-time updates on patients, and make accurate diagnoses. These two applications will contribute an additional $250-$450 billion in GDP to the healthcare space by 2030.
A New Wireless Era
5G is only scratching the surface of its full potential, though a few caveats remain before it can scale successfully. A whole new lineup of infrastructure will be needed to support this latest wireless generation, including enabled devices, network density and access, and getting telecoms operators and carriers on board.
The complete uptake of 5G will take a few years to realize. But as the technological shift continues to unfold, investors can take advantage of the wave of opportunities it presents.
5G is more than an upgrade—it’s a crucial transformation of major segments of the economy.
The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web
A lot has changed since Yahoo and AOL were the homepages of choice. This visualization looks at the largest internet giants in the U.S. since 1998.
The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web (1998-Today)
With each passing year, an increasingly large segment of the population no longer remembers images loading a single pixel row at a time, the earsplitting sound of a 56k modem, or the early domination of web portals.
Many of the top websites in 1998 were news aggregators or search portals, which are easy concepts to understand. Today, brand touch-points are often spread out between devices (e.g. mobile apps vs. desktop) and a myriad of services and sub-brands (e.g. Facebook’s constellation of apps). As a result, the world’s biggest websites are complex, interconnected web properties.
The visualization above, which primarily uses data from ComScore’s U.S. Multi-Platform Properties ranking, looks at which of the internet giants have evolved to stay on top, and which have faded into internet lore.
America Moves Online
For millions of curious people the late ’90s, the iconic AOL compact disc was the key that opened the door to the World Wide Web. At its peak, an estimated 35 million people accessed the internet using AOL, and the company rode the Dotcom bubble to dizzying heights, reaching a valuation of $222 billion dollars in 1999.
AOL’s brand may not carry the caché it once did, but the brand never completely faded into obscurity. The company continually evolved, finally merging with Yahoo after Verizon acquired both of the legendary online brands. Verizon had high hopes for the company—called Oath—to evolve into a “third option” for advertisers and users who were fed up with Google and Facebook.
Sadly, those ambitions did not materialize as planned. In 2019, Oath was renamed Verizon Media, and was eventually sold once again in 2021.
A City of Gifs and Web Logs
As internet usage began to reach critical mass, web hosts such as AngelFire and GeoCities made it easy for people to create a new home on the Web.
GeoCities, in particular, made a huge impact on the early internet, hosting millions of websites and giving people a way to actually participate in creating online content. If it were a physical community of “home” pages, it would’ve been the third largest city in America, after Los Angeles.
This early online community was at risk of being erased permanently when GeoCities was finally shuttered by Yahoo in 2009, but luckily, the nonprofit Internet Archive took special efforts to create a thorough record of GeoCities-hosted pages.
From A to Z
In December of 1998, long before Amazon became the well-oiled retail machine we know today, the company was in the midst of a massive holiday season crunch.
In the real world, employees were pulling long hours and even sleeping in cars to keep the goods flowing, while online, Amazon.com had become one of the biggest sites on the internet as people began to get comfortable with the idea of purchasing goods online. Demand surged as the company began to expand their offering beyond books.
Amazon.com has grown to be the most successful merchant on the Internet.
– New York Times (1998)
Digital Magazine Rack
Meredith will be an unfamiliar brand to many people looking at today’s top 20 list. While Meredith may not be a household name, the company controlled many of the country’s most popular magazine brands (People, AllRecipes, Martha Stewart, Health, etc.) including their sizable digital footprints. The company also owned a slew of local television networks around the United States.
After its acquisition of Time Inc. in 2017, Meredith became the largest magazine publisher in the world. Since then, however, Meredith has divested many of its most valuable assets (Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune). In December 2021, Meredith merged with IAC’s Dotdash.
When people have burning questions, they increasingly turn to the internet for answers, but the diversity of sources for those answers is shrinking.
Even as recently as 2013, we can see that About.com, Ask.com, and Answers.com were still among the biggest websites in America. Today though, Google appears to have cemented its status as a universal wellspring of answers.
As smart speakers and voice assistants continue penetrate the market and influence search behavior, Google is unlikely to face any near-term competition from any company not already in the top 20 list.
New Kids on the Block
Social media has long since outgrown its fad stage and is now a common digital thread connecting people across the world. While Facebook rapidly jumped into the top 20 by 2007, other social media infused brands took longer to grow into internet giants.
By 2018, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook’s umbrella of platforms were all in the top 20, and you can see a more detailed and up-to-date breakdown of the social media universe here.
A Tangled Web
Today’s internet giants have evolved far beyond their ancestors from two decades ago. Many of the companies in the top 20 run numerous platforms and content streams, and more often than not, they are not household names.
A few, such as Mediavine and CafeMedia, are services that manage ads. Others manage content distribution, such as music, or manage a constellation of smaller media properties, as is the case with Hearst.
Lastly, there are still the tech giants. Remarkably, three of the top five web properties were in the top 20 list in 1998. In the fast-paced digital ecosystem, that’s some remarkable staying power.
This article was inspired by an earlier work by Philip Bump, published in the Washington Post.
Visualizing the Power of the World’s Supercomputers
Supercomputers are some of the most advanced machines humans have ever created. See how they stack up in this infographic.
Visualizing the Power of the World’s Supercomputers
A supercomputer is a machine that is built to handle billions, if not trillions of calculations at once. Each supercomputer is actually made up of many individual computers (known as nodes) that work together in parallel.
A common metric for measuring the performance of these machines is flops, or floating point operations per second.
In this visualization, we’ve used November 2021 data from TOP500 to visualize the computing power of the world’s top five supercomputers. For added context, a number of modern consumer devices were included in the comparison.
Ranking by Teraflops
Because supercomputers can achieve over one quadrillion flops, and consumer devices are much less powerful, we’ve used teraflops as our comparison metric.
1 teraflop = 1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) flops.
|#1||🇯🇵 Supercomputer Fugaku||Supercomputer||537,212|
|#4||🇨🇳 Sunway Taihulight||Supercomputer||125,436|
|n/a||Nvidia Titan RTX||Consumer device||130|
|n/a||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090||Consumer device||36|
|n/a||Xbox Series X||Consumer device||12|
|n/a||Tesla Model S (2021)||Consumer device||10|
Supercomputer Fugaku was completed in March 2021, and is officially the world’s most powerful supercomputer. It’s used for various applications, including weather simulations and innovative drug discovery.
Sunway Taihulight is officially China’s top supercomputer and fourth most powerful in the world. That said, some experts believe that the country is already operating two much more powerful systems, based on data from anonymous sources.
As you can see, the most advanced consumer devices do not come close to supercomputing power. For example, it would take the combined power of 4,000 Nvidia Titan RTX graphics cards (the most powerful consumer card available) to measure up to the Fugaku.
One of China’s unrevealed supercomputers is supposedly named Oceanlite, and is a successor to Sunway Taihulight. It’s believed to have reached 1.3 exaflops, or 1.3 quintillion flops. The following table makes it easier to follow all of these big numbers.
In the U.S., rival chipmakers AMD and Intel have both won contracts from the U.S. Department of Energy to build exascale supercomputers. On the AMD side, there’s Frontier and El Capitan, while on the Intel side, there’s Aurora.
Also involved in the EL Capitan project is Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), which claims the supercomputer will be able to reach 2 exaflops upon its completion in 2023. All of this power will be used to support several exciting endeavors:
- Enable advanced simulation and modeling to support the U.S. nuclear stockpile and ensure its reliability and security.
- Accelerate cancer drug discovery from six years to one year through a partnership with pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline
- Understand the dynamic and mutations of RAS proteins that are linked to 30% of human cancers
Altogether, exascale computing represents the ability to conduct complex analysis in a matter of seconds, rather than hours. This could unlock an even faster pace of innovation.
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