In little more than four decades we have gone from first generation mobile networks, limited to carrying just voice data and little else, to the fourth-generation networks that we know today and have completely transformed our lives. Because of 4G, we’re more connected than ever before – we’re able to send instant messages, make international video calls, share our selfies around the world and browse the internet in a flash. Many of us might think we couldn’t have it any better, but there’s another shift on the horizon – the arrival of 5G.
There’s an air of excitement surround the arrival of fifth generation mobile networks, particularly among business leaders and industry innovators. The increased speed, capacity and reliability offered by 5G brings with it a host of potential use cases, signalling more than just an enhancement of connectivity. In fact, it has been dubbed the “network of networks” because of the way that it will combine multiple existing and future standards for mobile connectivity.
There’s a long list of improvements that are set to come into play as the 5G rollout begins, with speed playing the biggest role. This year, in which the new connection will start to slowly emerge in cities around the world, speeds offered are expected to be in excess of one gigabyte per second, around seven times faster than the theoretical maximum speed of 4G. Once it reaches maturity, however, experts predict that speeds will hit a phenomenal 10 gigabytes per second, matching many basic home broadband packages.
For UK businesses, this unlocks a wealth of opportunities. Nine in ten business leaders and analysts expect new products and services to come to fruition because of 5G, while 87 per cent predict that it will create completely new industries. There is further good news for small businesses, with 82 per cent of industry experts saying that 5G will enable SMEs to compete on a more level, global playing field.
Quicker connection speeds will mean less waiting around for files to download and messages to send, leading to increased levels of productivity. Employees can get more tasks done in a shorter time frame, freeing up their time to be spent and planned more wisely, while having a knock-on effect for revenue and cost efficiency.
Removing the shackles
With more reliable connectivity, organisations have the chance to increase the flexibility and allow employees to work remotely. As many as 70 per cent of employees already work remotely once a week, and the adoption of 5G is likely to see that number rise further. Alternative forms of working, such as the growing trend of digital nomadism which sees employees roam the world while continuing their usual office-based job through the internet, may also prove to be more popular.
It doesn’t have to be restricted to opportunities for globetrotters, however. The new networks have the ability to connect rural communities more effectively than current technology does, which will have a positive impact on remote working in areas beyond our country’s biggest cities. By becoming a more connected society as a whole, we enable rural residents to start online home businesses or enjoy the same benefits as those in urban areas do – something that was previously difficult to do in our more remote villages and towns.
New connectivity brings with it new opportunities. While improvements in augmented and virtual reality will make gamers very happy, they can also hold the keys to innovation for businesses. For example, allowing everyone to gather in the ‘same’ meeting room regardless of their real location was once a struggle, with network speeds of old having struggled to bring a large number of people to the same virtual space. Demo videos will alos be brought to life, and there are potential applications for designers in technology, retail, property, manufacturing and entertainment. There are consumer applications too – retailers could provide AR fashion experiences like trying on shoes, while travel companies can offer sneak peeks of hotel rooms and luxury beaches.
Getting ready for 5G
Business leaders who are prepared for the implementation of 5G this year will get an edge over their competition. Appointing an internal 5G champion, who can research the use cases for your organisation and understand the improvements that can be made ahead of time, will give you a head start. This is a process that starts with reviewing existing systems and processes to assess if they are 5G-ready, or if initial improvements need to be made incrementally. By creating a roadmap of the process, you can ensure that you are always linking back to your strategic business goals to ensure that 5G adds value to your bottom line, and isn’t implemented and invested in unnecessarily.
Used correctly, 5G will impact every aspect of a business positively. By getting ahead now, you’ll be in a new league when 5G goes mainstream – in fact, you’ll be in a completely different generation.
If you want to gain a better understanding of how greater connectivity can benefit your business, our consultancy team are on hand to talk you through the process and possibilities. Contact us today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling the office on 01225 220155.