5G could be a transformative technology and end up supercharging business and the UK economy. The trouble is that 5G is not widely understood and only 9% of UK firms have a 5G plan in place
Heralded for so long, 5G, the next generation of mobile connectivity, is now rolling out across the UK and available in over 50 selected towns and cities. And here’s the thing: since the 1980s, each time a leap to the next generation of mobile networks has been made the applications and devices that followed have transformed industries.
Let’s remind ourselves of the key features of 5G when compared to its predecessor.
1 Faster data throughput – expect to get between 10x and 20x faster speeds than 4G.
2 Greater device density – a million devices can connect to 5G per square kilometre – that’s 10x 4G density.
3 Low latency – a figure of just 0.1ms is as close to real-time communications as you can get. Again, 10x better that 4G
Sean Duffy, Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms for Barclays Corporate Banking, says that 5G is a transformative technology that could supercharge the UK economy by up to £15.7bn per year by 2025 – so how can that happen?
The 100 gigabit data speeds on 5G allow the user to do pretty much what they want with current business applications, including video, virtual reality and AI. And of course 5G is not restricted to a mobile handset. As we have seen with 4G, it can enable connectivity on other devices too, such as laptops and even local and wide area networks when fixed line access is not available or restricted.
Past evolutions from 2G to 3G and from 3G to 4G hint that almost every industry will benefit from 5G, with increased revenues and more productive workers giving a boost to the wider economy.
The ability reliably to connect ever more devices to the internet simultaneously is a key component of the Internet of Things (IoT), which in turn will help fuel the innovation needed to create smart cities and homes.
Combining this denser connectivity with much faster speeds will produce huge data sets compiled from user idiosyncrasies and IoT devices. At any scale, from government to corporate through to SME, these data sets will create demand for analytics applications that enable businesses to monetise the value of their data and turn it into the products and services we actually want rather than what they think we want.
With employees today increasingly working from offices or homes remote from a headquarters location, business agility becomes a key differentiator in both making available a wider talent pool from which to recruit and in getting information to clients faster – and in highly competitive markets speed of response provides competitive advantage.
The ultra-low latency speed of 5G enables near real-time communications for remote workers using Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) for information access and collaboration. Again, this business agility will be available to organisations of any size.
Firms that currently both understand 5G and have a plan to use it see their operations benefiting from 5G in the following key areas:
*Enhanced opportunities for international trade.
*Expanded geographical reach.
*More and better communications with customers.
*Increased business efficiency.
*Reduced business costs.