Sunday, March 31st, 2019 March31st2019

Sell for More Trivia: Does 5G matter for commercial real estate?

Published on March 31st, 2019

Sell for More Trivia is a weekly blog series that playfully presents a trivia question about commercial real estate.


First, what is 5G? 5G is the next generation of broadband connection. At first, 5G will live beside and enhance your current 4G service, but soon enough 5G-only networks will be complete and stand-alone 5G devices will be available. With any type of 5G connection, you’ll see faster network speeds.

How will 5G affect commercial real estate? Here are some ideas:

Flexibility in the factory

Factories have relied on physical wires for more than a century—for good reason. A spotty wireless connection can cause machinery to move too slowly or misfire, with expensive and potentially dangerous consequences.

Wireless engineers say 5G’s emphasis on slashing latency—the amount of time that machines take to respond to each other—could challenge that status quo. The network’s responsiveness would allow robotic assembly lines to take instructions over the air or grab the latest specifications for a product without lagging, so they could remain on the job all the time. Mobile robots could also be on the move constantly without having to plug in. This is the holy grail of factory automation…where nothing is nailed to the floor.

Autonomous vehicles

Experts expect to see vehicles equipped with 5G modems in the coming years. Still, what the next generation of connected cars will look like is an often-contentious question.

Some telecom-industry leaders paint a futuristic picture of driverless vehicles getting real-time information about traffic and hazards as they move, and then reacting to them. It is a vision that takes advantage of the strength of 5G networks—their ability to juggle swarms of simultaneous connections, allowing sensors in cars and on streets to provide uninterrupted streams of precise data.

But skeptics say telecom companies are overselling the capabilities of 5G when it comes to vehicles. The next generation of wireless networks, like its predecessors, will sometimes fail. And it might take years for even urban areas to get 5G signals everywhere.

Some companies are pitching more-limited uses for 5G transportation, at least to start. AT&T Inc. executives have said that small, neighborhood-size 5G zones could be a good place for public-transit riders and car passengers to keep themselves amused by downloading video and games as they pass through the area.

An AT&T spokesman says the company is also developing technology with partners to allow cars to share information with each other and roadside service stations when they fall outside the range of a cell tower. That could mean sharing information about things like road hazards, or getting in touch with emergency services.

A new doctor-patient relationship

In the coming years, 5G will make it possible for doctors to have more interactions with their patients through new telemedicine avenues, such as high-quality videoconferencing and virtual reality.

Some say the upgraded networks will make even bigger changes possible, such as having a doctor in one corner of the world operating on a patient in another with remote-controlled surgical machines.

Less grand, but coming sooner, is a wave of changes bringing more-personalized care. A therapist remotely treating a child with autism, for example, could use a VR headset to see the child’s facial and body cues more clearly than is possible on today’s video calls via mobile phones.

Columbia University researchers, meanwhile, are working on virtual physical therapy helped by 5G’s low latency. A patient wears a virtual-reality headset and moves controllers to manipulate digital versions of physical objects like a ball, mimicking motions in a traditional therapy session.

New sensors and wearable devices connected to 5G networks that generate data will also help flag abnormalities or adjust the dosage of medicine or therapeutic activities without in-person visits.

Patients could wear sensors that monitor their activity, stress levels and blood sugar, with that data flowing to their physician.

Later on, 5G’s faster speed, lower latency and higher bandwidth could facilitate larger changes such as paramedics getting real-time instructions in an ambulance from a trained physician using high-definition cameras and virtual reality.

Making surveillance more precise

Cameras and sensors already blanket the busier corners of the world without the help of 5G technology. But an experiment that Verizon Communications Inc. recently ran at a Houston testing center offered a peek at what the world could look like when faster wireless service becomes commonplace.

Early experiments suggest cameras and sensors with 5G enhancements could allow police departments to scan public places more quickly for suspects in their databases. It could also allow stores to track their customers’ movements with more precision, perhaps allowing them to tailor marketing to them based on their behavior.

The test took advantage of two 5G benefits. Enhanced bandwidth allows cameras to pass data-heavy images over the air without degrading their quality. Lower latency also lets computers process images close to where they are captured, allowing them to quickly identify people and objects. Verizon says the on-site processing led its systems to find matching images twice as fast as they could using conventional methods.


While change stresses many people out, I love progress. I love new technologies. And I look forward to the improved living standards that 5G is sure to bring.


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About Beau Beach, CCIM

Beau is a tenacious Commercial Real Estate Broker, author and adoring father of four. His clients appreciate his no-nonsense demeanor and his legendary work ethic.

Beau leads Prowess IRES which is a commercial real estate broker for sellers in the Nashville, Milwaukee, South Florida and Chicago markets.

He’s the author of the books The 3 Reasons: Why Most Commercial Properties Don’t Sell and True Wealth: What Every Seller Should Know About 1031 Exchanges.

Beau can be reached at 414.324.4938, 615.603.9770, click to schedule a call or