With all the glossy adverts, you’d think that 5G was all about streaming video and industrial robots, but the new mobile standard will also have an impact on chatbots and messaging technology like MAAP and RCS as the networks go online and handsets migrate bringing billions of users and devices.
What can you do with your new 5G phone? Mostly the same things you did with 4G, as the networks gradually roll out around the world and the dedicated services are slow to follow on. There are plenty of 5G Android handsets you can buy now to take advantage of whatever services are on offer, and Apple will pack 5G into its next-generation iPhones, likely available from September 2020.
But, when the networks are devices are commonplace (see how your local Telcos are doing here), there will be plenty to do in the 5G world. While greater speed is the obvious marketing point of 5G, the more important features for many are reduced latency and the ability to connect many more devices per station or tower (assuming they haven’t all been burned to the ground).
Estimates suggest that while 4G networks currently support around 2,000+ connected devices per .6 square KM, 5G will be able to support up to a million different devices over the same area. Reduced latency and more devices, especially those perky Internet of Things devices, mean homes – or more likely – offices or factories can have huge numbers of smart and autonomous devices running and communicating at once.
The question is, what do people do when all these autonomous services are up and running?
Bots talking in 5G
China has one of the first answers, with China Mobile offering a service that provides communication between a terminal and new-generation industrial application chatbots, implemented by leveraging the Messaging as a Platform (MAAP) service. This greatly improves the multimedia service experience for terminal users and will accelerate the commercial use of 5G messages.
According to press coverage, “The Zhejiang Branch of China Mobile is the first pilot unit of China Mobile’s 5G messages. Its 5G Message Center (5GMC) system, which is constructed by ZTE, employs a full cloud-based NFV architecture and a built-in lightweight solution. The 5GMC system provides brand-new 5G messaging services, which feature enhanced messages and business messages, and short message upgrade to rich media messages, card messages, and chatbot applications. As a consequence, 5G terminal users and industry users can experience one-stop services, such as search, dialogue, interaction and payment in the message window, without the need to install any APP, thereby directly accessing the applications of the operators and third parties.”
In practical terms, consumers could get location-based real-time messages that have some practical use to their day, based on travel/traffic, weather/pollution, stores and sales and many other factors.
For business, 5G messaging makes it easier for a vendor or provider to send a range of message types to users. In an industrial setting, those could be provided in the form of bots, keeping users informed of factory, production line or supply chain status, with the AI bot offering suggestions to improve efficiency, options to take if something is faulty or offline, or choices on what inventory or supplies to buy from an automated supply chain marketplace.
With factories in operation around the world where robots can reconfigure the whole production line, people in the building are less common and managers will become more reliant on dashboards and bots to help them monitor processes and make decisions.
The rise of messaging as a platform
The GSMA boffins have guided text messaging from a Nokia-era novelty to a staple of daily life even on the latest super-smartphones. MAAP offers lots of new tricks that all users will get to play with as 5G rolls out. GSM’s recent report (PDF) highlights how “MAAP represents an incredible opportunity for businesses and mobile network operators to increase their engagement with customers. MaaP enables communications services between third party businesses and customers opening up a range of services that utilise chatbots, Plugins, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and industrial applications.”
“This provides users with direct access to a range of brands and services from within the messaging app itself allowing them to engage with virtual assistants to book flights, buy clothes or make restaurant reservations without having to download multiple apps. It also represents a number of advantages for businesses who can offer 24/7 ‘always on’ services to customers.”
Most of these services will be fully automated, with 85% of interactions fully automated and 5G plus platform integration will make messaging seamless across applications and devices.
RCS business messaging for marketing
Rich Communication Systems is another platform that will provide brands with a way to increase their customer engagement using business feature-rich mobile messaging via chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI).
The platform has been building up hype over recent years, but with China’s three major operators agreeing to support it, it should pick up a lot more interest as 5G takes off. User adoption of RCS is simple, (here’s how to enable it on any Android device) with no need to download multiple apps as users gain direct access to their favourite brands and services from within a messaging app.
There will be plenty of other killer apps arriving as 5G networks and adoption speeds up, and as future steps in the 5G standard launch, which stretches over the next decade as billions of mobile users and devices switch on 5G. They will require a dynamic workflow to build up apps and services, with real-time AI and machine learning (ML) to support the volume and complexity of the network parameters and decision points that will enable these apps.
So, 5G may use big fancy-style graphics to hype devices and services, but it will be AI chatbot text and messaging services both in the front and background that help drive the technology and help users and business workers feel a part of the new world.
Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.