The rollout of 5G will be a welcome change for many industries. Especially businesses set up in densely populated towns and cities that already suffer lag and interference from the sheer number of devices connecting to shared networks in the area. One of the industries poised to see a complete overhaul in safety, communication and autonomy, is the shipping industry.

While it’s not often we hear news regarding the shipping industry, except for when things go wrong – such as the case of the Romania Livestock Shipping Disaster that occurred at the end of November – it is a massive industry with plenty going on. See this page for more information on the many types of products shipbrokers arrange the distribution of across our oceans.

Encompassing at least 90% of all world trade, at any given point there can be upwards of 50,000 vessels on the sea, including fisherman, cruise ships, passenger boats and tankers. As one of the most dangerous jobs in the world – being out at sea – 5G could completely change the way the shipping industries works, providing more opportunities for the Internet of Things devices and facilitating the way for the most exciting aspect of new technologies – autonomous shipping.

Why Is 5G Technology Exciting?

5G is the next step in mobile communication and the leap from 4G to 5G will change connections for the better. Not only providing a stable platform of connectivity for a much greater number of devices – from 10,000 to 1million in a Km2 area – 5G will offer an average speed 10x better than the peak speeds reached on 4G. From an average speed of 15Mbit/s to an incredible 150-200Mbit/s – and that’s not even the peak. Once 5G has fully rolled out across all major areas in the country, peak speeds of up to 10Gbit/s can be reached.

With speed and connectivity, also comes some doubt regarding response time. However, 5G has got that sorted too, with the average latency of 50ms on 4G dropping to an average of 10ms on 5G and the potential to reach low as 1ms. In comparison – the speed it takes for images we see to reach our brains is recorded at approximately 10ms.

Improved Maritime Communication

With improved communication technology comes improved maritime communication. 5G is expected to facilitate the roll-out of smart drones that can return real-time monitoring of ships entering and leaving ports and improve ship-shore communications for ship traffic. In addition to providing a better connectivity for the internet of things sensors that can assist in search and rescue efforts by providing real-time information and accurate positioning of downed or stuck vessels.

Autonomous Shipping

While autonomy can be a scary buzzword when talking about industries that could be autotomised and cost hundreds, if not thousands of jobs. In the shipping industry, autonomous shipping could instead potentially save thousands of lives. Every year around 2,000 seafarers working at sea lose their lives, with commercial seafaring listed as the second most dangerous occupation – behind deep-sea fishing. The oceans are not a place to make mistakes and sometimes these vessels can never be safely recovered – adding further to the harmful rubbish we leave in our already suffering seas.

While the development of autonomous ships are still at the experimental stage, 5G technologies will provide a stronger base for the manufacture of remote-controlled ships, remote-piloted ships and vessels powered by AI (artificial intelligence).

Safer Shipping

Most importantly, advanced communication technologies will improve the safety of commercial shipping for the better, saving lives, preventing accidents and putting less pollution into our already affected oceans. We are already seeing a drop in the number of spills and total losses experienced every year but considering many of the ships used today are decades old and not the cleanest. There is still more the industry can be doing to ensure a eco-friendlier method of distribution.

More information will become available on the changes anticipated across the maritime industry next year after the APM (Asia Pacific Maritime) conference, taking place towards the end of March 2020.

As 5G technology becomes more widely available, industries, not only maritime, will change for the better and we will gradually start to see a pickup of more Internet of Things solutions and products. Are you excited for 5G rollout or are you in an area that is already experiencing the benefits of 5G?