There’s no denying that we’ve become a society that’s reliant on wireless technology in one way or another. In fact, it’s hard to remember a time before it came into our lives. However, alongside this reliance, we’ve also become more demanding. We want our devices to work and fetch data at lightning speed, so we can update our statuses, watch videos and download files almost instantly. Unfortunately, our Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G connections aren’t always up to the task. This is why, when news broke that 5G was being launched sooner than expected, immense anticipation erupted amongst smartphone consumers and telecoms experts alike.
It seems that everyone is gearing up to welcome this new wireless technology with open arms. Network providers such as Nokia, BT and Ericsson have already started forming 5G partnerships, creating their own 5G platforms and testing their 5G networks in preparation for its launch. The first 5G-enabled smartphones are expected to be released early next year and mobile giant Samsung have already produced their own 5G home router. The UK government has even shown its support for 5G by announcing that they are investing £16m to create a 5G innovation network centre in Surrey.
The prospect of 5G is understandably exciting for the telecoms industry. From its ultra-fast speed and low latency to its capacity to handle more data and connections simultaneously, 5G will make communication seamless while also giving consumers the instant reaction they want from their smart devices. This is likely to bring a wealth of new business opportunities to the door of telecoms companies.
However, it’s not just the telecoms industry and smart device users who are likely to benefit from the arrival of 5G. No matter what industry you’re in, if you’re a business owner, 5G could impact you more than you probably realise and let’s just say, you have a lot to look forward to.
In terms of speed, 5G is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors. In fact, it’s set to be 100 times faster than 4G with the capability to download a full HD movie within a matter of seconds. So, speed is undoubtedly the biggest and most important difference businesses will experience after 5G launches.
While many larger organisations use private networks with leased lines as a higher bandwidth solution, a high percentage of smaller businesses utilise a business variant of the connectivity they use at home. A report by Ofcom has reported that the average broadband speed is currently 36Mbps throughout the UK, but many internet users find it a struggle to achieve even half of this.
Experts are already predicting that the 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) will exceed these current speeds with little effort, with trials suggesting bandwidths of 1Gbps and above. Today, organisations are increasingly being fuelled by data and 5G will enable them to shift through huge amounts of it in less time. For example, downloading a 5GB file can be downloaded in less than a minute while using 5G, whereas the current average of 36Mbps will take up to 20 minutes in comparison. Latency, which is the delay before a transfer of data begins after an instruction, will also be reduced to 1ms in comparison to 4G’s 45ms average.
With this enhanced speed and decreased delays in performing tasks, businesses will be able to send and receive larger files of higher quality and quantity than ever before. This will enable them to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently, which will understandably have a significant effect on productivity.
By 2020, it’s predicted that there will be 2.5bn connected people on social networks who will be using or have access to 50bn ‘smart objects’ that are connected to the internet. This “hyper-connectivity” is known as the Internet of Things (IoT) and it’s set to transform our society as we know it. The IoT works by gathering and analysing data, the results of which can then be used to come up with solutions to problems. It’s being used to create smart cities throughout the world which use sensors, software and advanced cameras to help us to reduce carbon emissions, improve our agriculture, reduce waste, improve transport systems and to detect illness and disease. Recent studies have found that the IoT could also add a welcomed £322bn to the UK economy by 2020. So, in other words, it’s going to improve all aspects of our daily lives.
As well as improving the economy, it will also make a significant difference to industry too. With the IoT, businesses will be able to monitor, analyse, and automate in ways that will greatly improve their processes. For instance, if you’re a retailer you could use it for predictive shopping purposes or to enhance your delivery methods If you’re a manufacturer, it could be used to improve your assembly lines and to reduce accidents and injuries.
The IoT will also improve productivity, as well as enabling process automation and improving customer service and experience. However, to unlock the full potential of the IoT to benefit both businesses and the economy, we need 5G.
5G can connect multiple Internet of Things devices in smart cities and buildings simultaneously and handle the huge amounts of data they produce, which is something that its predecessor 4G is already struggling to cope with. It also uses a smaller amount of energy whilst doing this, which means that IoT revenues will be a fraction of what they are now which will be great for those trying to save money where they can. 5G wasn’t created solely for the IoT, but experts think it will help it to become smarter and more useful which in turn will encourage us to be more creative with its implementation. The possibilities truly are endless.
5G could also change the 9 to 5 culture at the core of many businesses. There will always be a need for employees to physically show up to complete their work, but 5G’s extra bandwidth and speed could mean that more companies can utilise a more distributed workforce. This style of working will provide more opportunities for employees to work from home or while travelling which has been found to benefit businesses in several ways.
Firstly, employees who work from home are said to be more productive than those who work in offices that are full of distractions and are less likely to have sick days according to recent studies. Employers who take advantage of this style of working also open themselves to an increased talent pool, have improved employee retention and are able to save money on office space and equipment.
5G will also enable more networking opportunities for your company by enabling your employees to travel around and not be tied to one location. This can give you access to clients, consumers and suppliers in new locations that you might have been unable to reach before. It will also improve and enhance your company’s communication capabilities by allowing you to easily reach your workforce or clients via video calls without any lag.
Even though 5G-ready smartphones and devices might be available as soon as next year, it’s unlikely that businesses will be able to take advantage of 5G straight away. At the moment, 2020 is looking to be the year that 5G is rolled out to the masses, but it might only be a bit at a time.
With two years to wait, it’s not surprising that many business owners don’t feel like they need to prepare for 5G just yet. But in actual fact, to take full advantage of 5G when it lands and to give yourself a competitive edge, your need to start getting ready as soon as possible.
It’s likely that you will have to incorporate 5G enabled antennas, introduce further cloudification throughout your business to support the migration to 5G as well as upgrading all of your networks. You might also have to invest in new software, cybersecurity and cloud computing services, as well as spending time up-skilling your existing workforce and potentially hiring new employees. All of this will understandably take a lot of time to organise, plan and implement across your business.
Luckily, you have the option to do this business transformation yourself or with the help of a company such as Deltra Group who can source advisors to support you throughout the lifecycle of your project. This can take some of the pressure off you and your team and give you the confidence you need to make the smooth migration into the world of 5G before your competitors have even given it a thought.
Whether you choose to do it by yourself or with a bit of extra help, there’s no denying that 5G will be good for business. If utilised to its full potential, 5G could open doors and present opportunities for your company that you’ve only ever dreamed of and you only stand to gain from its implementation. The timeline for full 5G coverage in the UK might not be set in stone just yet but there is one guarantee; it will be here before we know it. So, bask in the current excitement and start putting plans in place for its arrival now. You won’t regret it.