Germany may have invented the world’s first programmable computer and the mp3 audio format, but has lagged behind in the digital transformation that is radically changing our lives and workplaces. That could change. The country is emerging as a closely watched testing lab for a new super-fast, super flexible mobile technology that could catapult its vast industrial base into the digital age.
The technology, dubbed 5G for fifth generation, is the latest evolution – or better, revolution – of mobile communications. What makes it stand out from previous generations is its potential to connect not only millions of people around the world and provide them with higher speeds to stream HD-quality video or use virtual reality applications on their mobile devices; more importantly, it promises to link trillions of machines, sensors and other devices used in sectors as divergent as manufacturing, logistics, health and energy. The buzz phrases are Industry 4.0 (also known as the “smart factory”) and the Internet of Things. These developments are pushing automation to a higher level requiring even more powerful, denser mobile connectivity, which will also play a crucial role in autonomous cars, androids and drones.