The latest mobile network technology – 5G – is inching ever closer, and while it’s already being rolled out in countries such as South Korea, China, Japan and the US, as well as one or two UK cities, it will fully arrive here in 2020.
5G, or to give it its full name Fifth Generation, will be much faster than the previous 4G, and will open up lots of new use cases for mobile data which means a whole host of potential new business opportunities for you.
Speed has been the focus of each generation, and with 5G the main transformative change will be reduced communication delays, also known as latency. This is how much time it takes for a data packet to get from one point to another.
The more that latency can be reduced, the better the many devices online can communicate, and this is really important for businesses that rely on IoT (internet of things) technology; connecting multiple devices and sensors to provide insight into business operations and product placement, and to communicate data about business operations.
5G is being regarded as a significant leap forward for application types such as augmented reality and virtual reality, which will be able to operate with greater efficiency. These applications, along with gaming and the rapid download of large files, are generally the remit of wifi or WiFi or Wi-Fi??? but 5G has the potential to open up this technology even further for businesses.
Unlike in previous generations such as 4G and LTE, there’s no single type of technology that’s synonymous with a 5G network; it will be a constantly developing system of networks taking in a far broader array of devices than merely mobile phones; which brings us back to the Internet of Things.
The key features of 5G are many. We’ve already touched on faster speeds and lower latency but the other benefits are greater capacity, reliability, flexibility and improved battery life (5G is being tipped to extend the battery life of devices by up to 10 times).
5G will be paramount in areas such as automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtualisation and cloud computing, so it’s important that you start planning how these fields will affect your workforce and how you do business, because they will likely see a boom in the coming years.
According to US telecommunications equipment company Qualcomm, 5G will catapult mobile to become a general purpose technology on a par with electricity and the car; but how will it help your business on a day-to-day basis?
We’ve already mentioned the potential for increased productivity as a result of being able towork more quickly and more efficiently and this, obviously, means saving costs and increasing revenue for your organisation.
Remote working has been with us for well over a decade, but in certain cases it’s been held back because of technology issues; we’ve all had a stilted conference call due to a slow or unreliable internet connection, but thanks to the seamless connectivity of 5G, along with augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR), remote meetings could soon feel like everyone is in the same room.
And seeing as we’ve just mentioned AR/VR; 5G is expected to give a real boost to these particularly in retailing, property, entertainment, gaming, manufacturing and tourism.
5G RuralFirst, a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) project between the private sector, government and academia, is exploring rural business opportunities enabled by 5G, not only in agriculture, broadcasting, and utilities but also in allowing more people to start businesses from home and by opening up fresh opportunities.
With network slicing, it will be possible for a business to practically own their own private 5G network, precisely set up according to its specific business needs. 5G will certainly have much greater capacity across a wider range of spectrums, but it will also use that space more intelligently, assigning only the resources necessary for each application; and to complement this, the shift from a hardware to a software-based network environment will bring about lower overheads for mobile operators which will in turn will be passed on to business customers.
Finally “smart buildings” will be able to employ small radio sensors to monitor occupancy, lighting and temperature, and CCTV footage will be able to be streamed live to mobile devices. All in all, this will help provide more flexible, efficient, secure and ultimately cheaper work spaces for businesses to operate in.
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