Technology

While the nation struggles with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy has taken a serious hit. At the same time, technological advances continue, including the rollout of multiple nationwide 5G networks. And this advance will be the catalyst for an economic surge — along with huge job growth in key industries.

With every technological advancement comes a burst of innovation that can’t always be anticipated. For example, the leap to 4G led to innovations like ridesharing, music streaming and contactless payments. Some aspects of the 4G move helped spur the U.S. economy to recovery after the 2008 recession. Just as with 4G, every innovation arising from 5G technology may be hard to anticipate.

But it is possible to predict many changes that will come with the 5G Economy, as some are already in the works. And the impact will be huge.

Research by Boston Consulting Group and CTIA revealed that the 5G Economy will contribute about $1.5 trillion to U.S. GDP, creating about 4.5 million jobs in the next decade.

“Our analysis shows that the 5G Economy’s impact will be broad and deep, unlocking significant benefits across the U.S.,” said Enrique Duarte Melo, a BCG managing director and senior partner and lead author of this report. “The GDP growth and job creation that America’s 5G networks are beginning to unlock will be instrumental in jump-starting the country’s economic recovery.”

Their research also shows how and where some of those contributions will appear — and are already beginning. According to the study, the three key industries that will benefit directly from the 5G transformation are:

1) Information services — This sector will see 205,000 new jobs and contribute $217 billion to the GDP.

Highly advanced 5G networks will create a bigger demand for more engineering and software services.

2) Manufacturing — This industry will see a boost of 380,000 jobs and will contribute $165 billion to the GDP.

In addition to the demand for infrastructure-related equipment that comes with 5G networks, advances in manufacturing processes will increase efficiency, reduce maintenance costs, enhance the supply chain and optimize production schedules. The 5G factory floor includes high-density sensors and other advancements to increase the precision of manufacturing processes.

For the automotive industry, 5G connectivity will drive autonomous and semi-autonomous transportation. 5G helps cars talk to each other, not only for safe autonomous vehicles, but also for enhanced safety features such as lane assist and automatic emergency braking.

3) Healthcare — The healthcare sector will see 341,000 new jobs and contribute $104 billion to the GDP.

With enhanced connectivity, wearables and monitoring devices help connect patients directly to their healthcare providers, making healthcare services more accessible and more targeted.

Telemedicine is also greatly enhanced by improved connectivity, as video calls become more seamless and reliable — with no delays or disruptions — and the network increases accessibility for those in more remote areas.

Public-private partnership to deliver on the promise of the 5G Economy

To ensure that the benefits of the 5G Economy are fully realized, policymakers, regulators and the private sector must work together so the 5G rollout continues to be smooth and rapid — and that the talent pipeline is sufficient to meet the demand.

Delays in network infrastructure build-out would carry significant opportunity costs. According to the study, every six-month delay in 5G network deployment at the national level could mean missing out on an average of $25 billion of potential 5G benefits by 2030.

“This study confirms the significant benefits that will come as a result of the 5G Economy, as long as there are no delays,” said CTIA Senior Vice President Nick Ludlum. “America’s wireless industry is building the foundation for the country’s post-COVID economic recovery.”

The 5G Economy will unlock many broad benefits across the U.S., with some of those benefits yet unknown. New services will emerge across all industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture and education. These changes and the benefits that come with them will help pull the U.S. into a thriving post-COVID economy.

To read the full report from Boston Consulting Group and CTIA, visit ctia.org/5Geconomy.

Wireless providers would love for you to believe that your lifestyle requires an unlimited stream of data. At first glance, there’s probably nothing wrong with this assumption: After all, think about how much of your day is spent on data-dependent activities like streaming video or music, or searching the internet.

But the fact is, all of these things can actually be done while using far less, and sometimes even none, of the data from your cellular plan. If your data needs aren’t really unlimited, you could save considerable money on your wireless plan with these simple tips.

Tame the video beast

Watching video on your smartphone is convenient, but it’s a data glutton. A full-length Netflix movie consumes about 1GB of data per hour in standard definition video, and up to 3GB per hour in high definition. At that rate, you’ll burn through even the most robust data package in no time.

Try connecting to Wi-Fi instead. It’s widely available, and lets you stream without using any cellular data at all, often with a faster connection. While connected to Wi-Fi, you can also download videos, TV shows or movies to your phone or SD card to watch anytime at your convenience, with no data required.

In addition, when you’re streaming video on a small screen, such as a cellphone, you really don’t need high resolution. Many apps give you the ability to change video quality settings, and therefore consume less data. For Netflix, log into your account and switch to one of three settings: low (using 0.3GB per hour), medium (which uses 0.7GB per hour) or high (using up to 3GB per hour). In the YouTube app, just tap the three-dots menu and click “Quality” to lower it.

Manage social media and streaming music

Videos have also become a standard part of the social media experience. Adjusting your settings to prevent videos from playing automatically will prevent them from eating up your data. The steps to change this setting can vary between applications. On most platforms, like Facebook, you’ll go to your Account Settings and either disable the “Autoplay” feature, or change it so that videos will only play automatically when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.

All of the popular audio streaming apps offer ways to listen to your music without having to use a network connection, or even Wi-Fi. Spotify lets you download your albums and playlists right to your device. If you use Apple Music, you can add songs, albums and playlists to your library.

Try a smaller plan for bigger savings

While an “unlimited” plan may seem like an easy answer to your data needs, they can be more enticing than practical. Read the fine print: Most actually limit your high-speed data to a certain number of gigabytes per month. Once you use up that allotment, you’ll still have unlimited access, but at much slower speeds. This makes it more difficult to load pages quickly, or to stream video, even though you’re paying a premium for “unlimited” access.

Instead, take a look at a carrier like Consumer Cellular, which a offers a range of affordable choices from a talk-only 250-minute plan to 3GB, 10GB, 15GB or unlimited data options each month. Plans are also completely flexible: You can switch right up to the last day of a billing cycle with no extra fees, and you’re also automatically upgraded if you go over your data usage. That means you get the best rate for what you actually use, rather than having to carry an unlimited plan just to prevent an overage.

Follow these tips and you’ll enjoy streaming movies, listening to music and so much more while also keeping money in your pocket for things other than a colossal data plan. You can have it all, without needing an unlimited budget to do it