The Advent of 5G: The Impact on our world and IP

The Advent of 5G: The Impact on our world and IP

You thought 4G was fast, well, 5G is mind-blowingly faster and more speed means, it will burn your data. The transition from 4G to 5G this time is not just about small difference in internet speed, 5G is going to impact everything, changing the world as we know it and of course, IP is not exempted.

5G refers to the 5th Generation of cellular network technology. It explores a frequency spectrum higher than what has been used by previous generations and this gives it much better internet speed making it at least twenty times faster than the previous generation, 4G. Speed tests done at MTN’s 5G Demo Launch in Abuja show that a 2GB movie that would have taken 5 minutes to download on 4G, would be downloaded under 19 seconds using 5G and as for streaming, well, 5G might just be the end of video buffering. 5G also gives much lower latency rates, latency rate is the amount of delay between sending and receiving information. Human reaction time is about 200 to 300 milliseconds, 4G takes about 100 to 200 milliseconds to respond and 5G, does it in a millisecond, 400 times faster than the blink of an eye.

Asides watching and downloading movies, how will these mind blowing speeds affect our world? With such low latency rates, autonomous driving will fast become a reality; self-driving cars will respond to information around them and send information to other cars and objects around them faster than it would have taken a human to respond. With such reduction in time delay, remote interactions can be done in almost real-time, this means that online virtual reality simulations involving different people at different locations will be much more accurate. Also, remote surgery (which involves a specialist doctor performing a surgery on a patient from a different location) would now be possible and actually effective. 5G will enable more devices to be connected to the network and enable them to communicate and share data with each other – an internet of things. 5G is bound to bring new technological innovations to every sector of life. And then, there’s Intellectual Property.

To start with, it is common knowledge that behind every big technological innovation, there is or most times, there are a mass of patents trailing behind. 5G is a big technological innovation and of course behind it is a long trail of patents. According to IPlytics, the patent race for the 5G innovations have been on since 2012 and presently, big tech companies like Huawei, Samsung and Qualcomm lead the race for more intellectual property rights on this money train.

One thing that can be agreed on is that 5G is going to take the world to the next level of digital technology. When the Internet was first developed and became widely used, there was a need for intellectual property policies and practices to be developed to meet the new issues that came with the arrival of the internet. So also, with the rise of new technologies with 5G, there is a need for adaptable intellectual property policies and practices, to be able to answer the questions that come with the new innovation. For instance, as 5G speeds up the use and creation of the ‘Internet of things’, as defined earlier, questions like who would have ownership rights to the data stored and shared on and by these devices are bound to arise and new policies or new interpretations for existing policies have to be made to meet this new demand.

A new age of wireless technology also paves way for a multitude of new technological innovations. One of the goals of Intellectual Property Rights protection is to promote innovation and ensure innovators reap the rewards from their creations. As 5G brings new innovations, it also brings business on intellectual property rights protection in form of licensing, consultation, dispute resolution etc. The arrival of 5G will bring a new set of licensing disputes and intellectual property conflicts both on the use and development of the 5G technology itself and on new innovations that rise from its use.

5G generally underscores the use of the digital space and has a much larger network capacity than previous generations, this means that with the development of the 5G network, a lot more interactions would be done online and much larger mass of data would be saved and transmitted on the internet. This creates a potential risk because hackers with malicious intent would be looking to tamper with or steal some of this information stored or transmitted on the network, this means that effective digital security systems have to be developed to prevent data theft. This fear of data theft is what caused the United States and other countries to prevent the tech giant, Huawei from developing their 5G network, and truly in the past, there have been multiple cases of China-based companies being accused of Intellectual property theft like stealing trade secrets causing large corporations to crash.

Intellectual Property is key to development and though the 5G network is set to make innovation thrive, it also creates a risk of innovations being stolen in 5G speed. 5G is still on its way and there are still many hurdles to surmount before it becomes a reality. Though the blazing internet speeds might not be good for your data cap, with the rise in innovation 5G brings, IP might just have struck oil.

About the Author

Samuel Oluwasegun is a 200 level law student with avid interest in Intellectual Property law as well as Fintech law. He is interested in the use of Law and Technology to impact society.
He can be reached on
Twitter – (@I_am_Shegun)

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