Power and water utilities often lock horns, figuratively speaking, with their customers arising from issues with respect to pricing rates, quality of service and timely delivery of required services, among others. Often, problems come up due to lack of communication, bias in the interpretation of base data, and absence of transparency in the decision-making and resolution process.
5G, the next generation wireless technology after the current 4G, is ready to make a difference. Major contributing factors to the success of 5G over 4G are: 1) Faster speed as much as 100 times more than 4G; 2) Higher data rates; 3) Greater capacity to allow more connected devices; and 4) Lower latency for minimal delay in the transmission of volumes of data.
From these powerful improvements, new applications powered by 5G will give rise to smart functionalities that will redound to benefits for both utilities and their corporate clients as well as home-based consumers.
While 5G is usually presented as a leap in `communication, it can also help vastly improve the provision of services of utilities in synch with such rising new technologies as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics and edge computing.
In this context, the adoption of 5G can be a win-win proposition for water and power utilities and their customer base.
Gains and losses
Over the long term, the water utility should be able to gain the following:
• Improved operational efficiency
• Remote control of critical infrastructure
• Ease of detecting theft and wastages along the supply line
• Lesser customer disputes
• Lower utility capital expenditures in the long run
• Reduced outages and associated costs
For consumers, the projected advantages include:
• Lower billing
• Access to real-time customer tools through smart metering
• Personalized control over consumption
• Fewer inconveniences across the board
The drawbacks are stacked mostly on the side of the utility services provider. There is the initial investment to possibly renovate existing power or water delivery support systems to be compatible with a 5G-enabled infrastructure and also to beef up online security protection to safeguard 5G-facilitated transactions involving massive amounts of data that will be vulnerable to serious hacks and virus attacks.
The customer, beware
As is usually the case, expectations are like promises made to be broken oftentimes under the excuse of externalities such as unprecedented oil price hike, mounting political tension somewhere in the world, or periodic instability in the 5G infrastructure itself.
The consumer should always remain vigilant.