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Infographic – 5G in construction and real estate

By Katerina Mansour - 14 April 2022

The 5th generation of cellular networks, 5G, has sparked controversy and debate since its launch around 2019. Beyond misinformation around health issues, many voiced concerns regarding its security. Nevertheless, the deployment of 5G technology is well underway, having accelerated this past year. The arrival of this new cellular network brings about many opportunities for a variety of sectors. In our infographic below, we look at the ways in which construction and real estate can reap the benefits of 5G networks.

Key stats and trends

  • Boston Consulting Group and CTIA have estimated that 5G will contribute $127 billion and create 451,000 jobs in the construction industry by 2030
  • Data released by Cemex Ventures indicates the construction technology sector reached $4.5 billion in investments in 2021, triple the amount invested in 2020
  • According to ETNO, 62% of the European population received 5G coverage in 2021, compared to 30% in 2020
  • Ericsson estimates 60% of the global population will have access to 5G technology by 2026
  • According to Ookla’s 5G map, there were 5G deployments in 112 countries as of November 2021
  • Statista estimates there will be 478 million smart homes worldwide in 2025

Potential use cases for 5G in construction and real estate

Smart buildings

While IoT works with 4G today, 5G will boost the speed and efficacy of using IoT devices for use cases like smart homes. Indeed, 5G will allow for a greater density of connected devices and much faster response times. This could help solve one of the pain points smart buildings currently face related to limitations in relying on Wi-Fi connections that can be spotty.

Site surveillance

Adequate monitoring of large construction sites requires cameras that are supported by low-latency connectivity. Today, 4G has a latency rate of 200 milliseconds whereas 5G offers 1 millisecond. This fast response time can help ensure that the data collected in real-time from sensors and cameras is as accurate and timely as possible. This is key when it comes to detecting security breaches or hazards on-site.

Worker safety

5G will enable highly accurate asset tracking, whether it be on-site equipment or personnel. It can also help guide workers on-site so they can avoid hazardous zones and alert them of any accidents. This would be done through wearables that embed IoT sensors and geofencing. When incidents happen on construction sites, a quick response can be vital. 5G’s speed is therefore a promising new technology to ensure on-site safety and quick response times.

Supply chain optimisation

Lag time is an issue when it comes to the use of robots in warehouses and other parts of the supply chain. While the world has pushed forward automation, especially during the pandemic, some pain points exist. Thanks to 5G, robots can become more efficient and issues like lag times or lack of precision in movements can be avoided. Once again, this is thanks to 5G’s ultra-low latency, which enables much faster transmission of data.

Improved collaboration

Working on a construction project typically involves collaboration between a large variety of stakeholders on a continued basis. To avoid delays, it’s critical that everyone stay up-to-date on any changes and have access to documentation at the right time. The speed that 5G provides will enable this level of communication and document-sharing to occur even on mobile devices, which is an added convenience. There’s also talk about how 5G will help boost the quality and efficiency of VR/AR technology, which has been a growing use case in both construction and real estate. Indeed, using VR/AR to visit locations or to visualise construction plans in 3D has become quite popular.

Construction automation

The high-bandwidth, low-latency characteristics of 5G better enable the remote operation of equipment and machinery on-site through high-quality and real-time video feeds. By developing this use case, many on-site tasks could become remote, both reducing safety risks and increasing efficiency.

Notable events and investments

  • Qualcomm Ventures has invested in several 5G startups, amounting to $170 million in funding provided since 2019
  • In 2021, VCs invested $3.5 billion in construction technology, up from $2 billion in 2020
  • AT&T and JGB Smith have partnered to create a 5G smart city in the Washington, DC area
  • Bam Nutall recently announced it would be using 5G technology for more efficient construction in one of its upcoming projects
  • The EU Commission announced €1 billion in funding to improve Europe digital connectivity
  • In late 2021, Ferrovial deployed the UK’s first operational standalone 5G at an infrastructure project in London
  • China has spent $50 billion on its 5G network and could spend as much as $100 billion more within the next five years
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