There will be 340 million 5G connections globally by 2021 and a staggering 2.7 billion by 2025, mostly in developed markets. In money terms, in the aviation industry 5G amounted to just USD 0.2 billion in 2019 but is projected to reach USD 4.2 billion by 2026 a report by CSS insight Data has said.
In the same vein, the SITA, the leading IT provider for the air transport industry, has made six predictions about how ultra-fast 5G networks will bring major change for airports, airlines, and passengers, “with download speeds of up to 400MB per second, 5G will be a game-changer.”
According to a statement made available to THISDAY by the SITA, the potential for innovation is huge and airports, airlines, and passengers would feel the force of 5G in very different ways.
The statement also noted that SITA’s predictions are based on unique IT insights and emerging air transport industry technology trends.
“They follow hot on the heels of 5G trials like the recent ones carried out by both London Gatwick Airport and Beijing’s new Daxing International Airport services which signpost our entry into a new era of ultra-connected air travel,” the statement said.
The statement further noted that the adoption of 5G technologies is gradually making its way into Africa as well, adding that as of January 2020, commercial 5G networks have been deployed in Lesotho and South Africa.
It added that technology company, Ericsson predicts that 5G adoption will accelerate considerably on the continent, “over the next six years, Africa and the Middle East are expected to have the highest growth rate in 5G availability in the world.”
The VP SITA Platform, Gilles Bloch-Morhange, said 5G is already enhancing the company’s existing applications at airports, for aircraft communications, airport operations, baggage management, and of course passenger processing.
He hinted that it is impossible to talk about 5G without discussing Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and the other applications it enables.
He added: “We are already using 4G for IoT applications for several applications around our biometric passenger processing solution, such as Smart Path and baggage management and the uptake of 5G will provide many more opportunities.”
According to the statement: “5G will soon be common place at airports and the idea of everything intelligently connected to everything will be viable.
“The Internet of Things (IoT) brings the inherent need to manage increasing amounts of objects and therefore data. Today’s 4G technology can manage around 10,000 devices in each square kilometer; a 5G network can manage a million. Multiple objects at airports will interact with people and objects will interact among themselves.
“With 5G, connectivity will be much more fluid and flexible. The new networks will enable massive data flows, providing secure, real-time, predictive and historic views of airport operations. This will make collaboration between airports, airlines, ground handlers, air traffic managers and concession holders easier and effective.
“The result will be the intelligent monitoring of queues throughout the airport and tracking and controlling autonomous vehicles that assist passenger journeys. Vehicles on the ramp will be served by connected smart tugs and baggage carts. Wheelchairs, mobile kiosks, and robotic assistants will be controlled remotely.
It is not all about bandwidth. 5G’s low latency will make autonomous vehicles much safer. With signals going up to 100 times faster than 4G, the speed of digital instructions will make the difference between a vehicle traveling tens of meters or just a few centimeters before taking corrective action.
“5G connected Artificial Intelligence (AI) will solve major pain points at airports and borders. For example, biometrically matching passengers to their bags will be simple. AI will be able to recognize unique scuff marks, creases, and material characteristics to distinguish between seemingly identical bags and match them to the correct passenger.
“AI-assisted computer vision will continually scan boarding gate areas and intelligently predict capacity issues for hand luggage on flights and enable staff to act accordingly before boarding. Putting IoT and 5G together will offer great opportunities for airlines and airports to unlock the value of all their data to deliver tangible business benefits.
“All airport assets will be connected, making monitoring efficiency and optimizing usage much simpler. It will, for example, provide the tools to make vehicle usage around the airport more efficient, delivering considerable savings in fuel costs and overall resources, including labour. 5G will enable the next-generation aircraft to exchange vast amounts of data around the airport and at the gate.
“The fast transmission of aircraft data, and analysis of that data, will enable pro-active maintenance, quicker aircraft turn-around, more on-time departures and, most importantly, an improved customer experience. Convergence of 5G and satellite communications will serve the end-to-end approach of the aircraft as an IoT-flying device, connecting it with all the relevant systems.”