How Are 5G, Blockchain, And IoT Linked Together?
Technology moves at a blistering pace sometimes and nothing more so than software. It can be updated daily and paradigms are shifted constantly. Hardware, on the other hand, has a definite sell-by date and lags behind almost constantly.
The Next Big Thing
We constantly hear about the Next Big Thing from various companies, none more so than mobile phone companies. It seems like just yesterday that we were promised blistering speeds on mobile devices thanks to 4G networks but that promise has been tepid at best.
Ever since 4G came along, the mobile phone market has saturated to the point of absurdity. Mid-range phones are performing on par with high-end phones in all but a few select use cases such as cameras, scanners and the odd game or two. We have gained an inescapable thirst for data that cannot be quenched and it has swallowed up 4G technology by overcrowding all stations. Rarely do you see the full effects promised by 4G.
Now we are being promised not just higher speeds, but lower latency as well by the newest kid on the block – 5G. Mobile phone carriers the world over have made announcements regarding implementation and as usual… the implementation of the new technology differs from company to company. Like 3G and 4G, this will take anywhere from 2 to 4 years to converge into a real, consistent standard.
The key with 5G is not the speeds and the latency on offer. It is something else entirely that is gripping geeks the world over with a frenzy not seen since the launch of the EeePC or the Raspberry Pi. It is the cost-effective nature of 5G devices. 5G is promising to connect everything and when someone says everything these days, it invariably leads to talk about the Internet Of Things (IoT).
IoT As A Catalyst For Blockchain
IoT (the Internet of Things) has been a buzzword for quite a while. It started taking off in earnest with the launch of the Raspberry Pi but the promised world of everything being able to connect to the internet has been slow. The reason or this is that the modems needed to connect to 4G networks are expensive and power hungry.
While many might not think that is the case – what with embedded modems costing around a single US dollar to implement – this cannot be further from the truth. $1 is fine when looking to put it in a TV or a fridge. It represents a fraction of the cost of those devices. However, if you want to have an internet enabled “thing” such as a lightbulb which can cost around $3 then it becomes a problem.
Upcoming modules for 5G are expected to not only be smaller and more cost-effective but also more power efficient. This will truly enable IoT to truly launch in a way that has not been possible before 5G networks. Ericsson estimates that almost two-thirds of devices will be classed as IoT devices in the future. That means 60% of devices connected to the internet will small things that you do not regularly use. That is only one end of the equation though. What about software?
More Nodes, More Power, More Security
Blockchain has been innovating rapidly, and as a software solution, it is almost perfect. Almost being the key word in that sentence. Smart contracts on the blockchain are helping to revolutionize supply-chain management and accounting but there is one problem. The reliance of smart contracts on an oracle is what is keeping it from being adopted full scale by all and sundry. In a world where an immutable blockchain needs data from outside the ecosystem, people get worried. Human error factors into everything, and when you are entering data into something that is immutable then you have a potential disaster on your hands.
5G and IoT solve this problem. More and more data is going to be written into smart contracts by machines than ever before. We will place our trust in tiny machines that are doing one specific job and are everywhere to make sure that the data fed to a blockchain smart contract is the right data.
The more independent, human-free oracles that are on the network, the better for blockchain. This is why the convergence of 5G, IoT, and blockchain will produce a drastic change in our society as hardware (5G) finally catches up to software (blockchain) and allows a previous high-flying idea to bring the software to life (IoT devices).
This perfect storm is going to make the last few years seem stone-age in comparison to what we will get in the near future. If you are still amazed at the quality of mobile phones and service you get now, imagine when businesses get in on the act and we finally get the future blockchain has promised since its inception.