Initially, 5G would only allow the Tactile Internet on a small scale, though – it could be used for campus networks such as the Dresden Digital Test Area, where self-driving cars are already operated by 5G, or the Dresden 5G+ Lab, where we have been working on the further implementation of the 5G network for several years.

Fremont, CA: Significant drivers of social change are writing, telegraphing, mobile communications or emerging networking technologies on the Internet. Historical upheavals like the Renaissance, the Enlightenment or the Industrial Revolution would not have been possible without them.Today, we are experiencing yet another historic revolution – the Tactile Internet, the real-time remote control of physical objects over the network. This technology will be implemented by the 5G mobile communications standard, but the true breakthrough will come with the further growth of 6G.

5G: There is a need for evolution

New communications technologies need to be built in a variety of ways. Initially, their distribution is limited to a few professional applications. They only make a jump to the mass market if they grow further.

In the case of letterpress printing, this evolution occurred when Gutenberg invented movable-type printing; in the case of the Tactile Internet, several steps of evolution are required.

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As co-founder of the 5G Lab Germany at the Technical University of Dresden, I have been active in the creation of the 5G standard over the last 10 years. Whether self-driving cars, postal drones, smart prostheses, live surgeries, automated agricultural vehicles or 3D video games – the introduction of 5G can lead to major technological leaps.With the Industry of Things, a fully integrated development of autonomous logistics and remotely operated robots, there will also be a major shift in manufacturing – comparable to that of the first industrial revolution.

Initially, 5G would only allow the Tactile Internet on a small scale, though – it could be used for campus networks such as the Dresden Digital Test Area, where self-driving cars are already operated by 5G, or the Dresden 5G+ Lab, where we have been working on the further implementation of the 5G network for several years.

Our experience indicates that 5G does not enable the nationwide implementation of the Tactile Internet, which would give the possibility of manipulating data streams as well as physical objects through the mobile network—worldwide and in real time—for a wide range of consumers.