As the world observes digital transformation in almost all areas of life, it welcomes with it new forms of technology and connectivity. With this rapid technological evolution, many aspects are now antiquated and abandoned.
The deployment of 5G brings with it a series of concerns, such as worries about its threat to airplane functionality. It is also seeing the reallocation of previous spectrums that supported older generations of connectivity.
Devices and technologies dependent on 2 and 3G may then become redundant or partially inhibited with the rollout of 5G. Contemporary concerns include smart meters and GPS.
Efforts have been made across the nation to fast track the installation of smart meters. A September 2021 report by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy found that to be 26.4 million smart and advanced meters in homes and small businesses in Great Britain.
According to the report, almost half of British meters are now smart or advanced. The global smart meter market is set to reach $29.8bn (£21.9bn) by 2026. Referred to as “the next generation of gas and electricity” by Smart Energy GB, smart meters are undoubtedly a hot topic of discussion.
2021 saw record growth for the smart meter network with an 87% increase in uptake and installation. With £11bn estimated as the cost of installation across the UK, so far, worries have arisen surrounding the longevity of smart meters. Many have suggested that in the next decade, these meters will become obsolete or ‘dumb’.
Over as quickly as it started
Currently running on 2G and 3G, smart meters are not equipped to deal with the rapid pace of technological evolution.
Many unlinked systems manage older types of smart meters (SMETS 1), and communication with suppliers is ran through 2G/2.5G networks. If residents change supplier, it is suggested that the meter becomes a “dumb” meter in terms of operation. With the phasing out of 2G and 3G networks, smart meters will need their communications hub replaced In order to operate on 4G.
It is worth nothing that smart meters are unlikely to use 5G as it has a higher frequency which is understood to be less reliable in cases of long distances where walls need penetrating.
Much like smart meters, GPS devices may suffer as 5G networks are built upon pre-existing spectrums. The approval for a low-power terrestrial nationwide 5G network in L-band aligned the spectrum adjacent to GPS bands.
When 3G networks are shut down it may affect certain cars manufactured between 2010-2021. Some cars may lose their capacity to update data with real-time traffic and location logistics.
It may also affect connectivity to smartphones thus endangering safety features like handsfree calls or emergency services. As well as this, functions such as remote lock/unlock and voice assistance will no longer work by the end of 2022.
Not all car manufacturers have issued responses to the 3G shutdown. Consumer Reports has compiled a list of cars that may suffer the effects of the shutdown. Some car-owners will be eligible for free retrofitting and software upgrades to tackle this, whilst others will have to pay a fee.
There’s an old saying, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.” Though 5G is set to plunge the world into the next phase of digital transformation, such progress is neither quiet nor unnoticeable as it leaves its mark on that which is already in place.