5G isn’t expected to be rolled out across the UK until 2021 in reality, although the mobile operators are running testbeds in the UK very soon. It is already available in Melbourne and Sydney and was used at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. So why are we talking about it now?
Before we go into that, let’s have a quick look at what it is.
What is 5G?
Wireless communications (all the G’s) use radio frequencies to carry data. These are the operating frequencies and data rates.[table id=1 /]
As you can see, there is a huge boost in data rates, from 4G to 5G. It is this step change that can deliver that giant leap.
What will it deliver?
Put very simply, 5G will deliver:
- Faster Speeds: data transfer speeds from 10 – 100 times faster than 4G. This equates to a high definition movie being downloaded in under a second, compared to up to 10 minutes now.
- Improved Latency: the lag between when data is sent to when it is received should almost disappear. No more spinning disc in the middle of your screen.
- Increased Connectivity: the increased capacity of the 5G spectrum means more people, and more devices, can communicate at the same time.
In our personal lives, it means autonomous cars will become a reality because they can react as needed. Our fridges and other home devices will all be “smart” and able to help use save time and money. Imagine some of the scenes from iRobot (the good bits – not robots killing humans) or Minority Report to get a picture in your head of what may become reality.
How will this help your business?
1. Real time locations of staff and vehicles
Technology is all about improving efficiency and productivity. 5G can help with this in many ways, including real-time locations. Although some of this is possible now, 5G will enable more and allow you, as a business leader, to know more and to keep your clients informed.
2. Collecting and analysing data faster
The increased capacity and faster data speeds 5G should bring will simply allow you to do more. In the same way consumers will be able to download whole movies in seconds, you can get data around the business faster. A few examples could be:
- Architects getting plans to clients on the move or getting site surveys and assessments back to the office faster.
- As they leave the site, Estate agents can get houses onto the market, including a full set of images.
3. Reduced stockholdings
Knowing exactly what stock you have, how much is needed and when to order more is key for Just in Time processes. RFID tags and other technologies, combined with 5G, can make this process even more efficient.
4. Improved security
Current internet connectivity already allows real-time monitoring of buildings to be easily done, but what about sites with no connectivity? Monitoring building sites, for example, will become much easier with 5G and then notifying responders can be automated too.
5. Reducing FM costs
Lighting and HVAC are both significant costs for Facilities Managers to budget and control. Real-time information about the occupancy of a building will help control those costs.
6. Remote working made really simple – faster data movement
As alluded to above, the key to truly successful remote working is being able to access and work with the data you need. For remote working currently, that means tying to a WiFi connection. Although increasing, 4G data contracts include relatively small quantities of data unless you’re paying significant sums. 5G will change this and enable, virtually, unlimited movement of data.
7. AR and VR for marketing/training
There are so many ways that unlimited movement of data can be used. Augmented and Virtual Reality are growing into our personal and work lives and 5G will allow this to increase. Perhaps the science fiction of holograms appearing and engaging with us isn’t that far away. Augmented reality can turn the humble flyer into a full interactive piece of marketing collateral already. Imagine what can happen going forward.
8. All data available everywhere – the real paperless office
The paperless office has been a dream for many for decades now. But the need for “real” signatures and people’s desire to write on and to read from paper means it has alluded most. More data, moving faster, may mean these needs go away. Natwest has just started letting you electronically sign for your mortgage application, so others will have little excuse but to follow.
When asking what can 5G do for your business, you need to consider: 5G isn’t with us yet, but it won’t be that long. 5G enabled mobile phones are being announced already and I doubt it will be long before it is being built into tablets and, maybe, even laptops. We will no longer be tied to the copper and fibre infrastructure that has dominated our lives for the last decade. Imagine being able to open a new office without being beholden to BT to connect you before you can start working!