Over the past year, you will have heard a lot of talk about 5G and what it means for the future of mobile communications. 5G – so-called because it is the fifth generation of mobile network technology – is much faster than previous 4G and 3G iterations with download speeds comparable to broadband, writes Tim Walker, MD, Aura Technology.
The introduction of 5G is not an overnight transformation. The networks in the UK have had a staggered launch, with some having made it available since 2019, while we are still waiting for others to roll out. Most phones and devices don’t support 5G yet, but that will change as leaders like Samsung and Apple adapt to take advantage of the increased speed. If your business is planning to invest in devices or telephony over the next couple of years, it is definitely worth knowing about 5G and its benefits now.
What’s all the fuss about 5G?
5G is expected to bring higher speeds to mobile devices and provide increased coverage – leading to much more reliable wireless and mobile networks. Put simply, everything will get faster and better connected.
The most exciting features of 5G are greater capacity and much less latency (or lag) than 4G – put simply, you can transfer more data, more efficiently, to more devices. Through 5G it’s possible to connect thousands of internet-enabled devices simultaneously, from phones to IoT (Internet of Things) sensors.
With much higher speeds, 5G can keep you connected with your remote teams. This will be of particular interest to the many businesses which have fully or partially switched to a home working model during the Coronavirus pandemic. Enhanced mobile broadband will improve communications between remote workers through more seamless video conferencing, as well as introducing new possibilities for meetings in augmented and virtual reality – you’ll feel as though you’re in the same room.
With high-capacity connectivity even in the busiest areas, businesses will benefit from faster secure connections for document collaboration, high-speed downloads and more.
Because of its easily portable nature, 5G will also bring connectivity to regions that have previously been poorly-served by broadband, helping to get businesses in those areas up to speed with remote working and digital transformation. This is key to delivering the Government’s commitment to getting good internet access to all homes and businesses in the UK.
More efficient working
Ultra-low latency will enable real-time communication between devices across a business, without the need to connect to WiFi. This applies equally to workers on the road and those working from home or the office – 5G speeds can lead to huge productivity gains and help keep teams connected with a benefit to staff morale.
Smart office spaces
Businesses leveraging 5G may be able to use it to provide flexible, secure and efficient working spaces for employees. We expect to see a rise in smart buildings which will be able to employ small radio sensors to monitor occupancy, lighting and temperature. You’ll also be able to stream security footage of these office spaces to mobile devices.
Greater number of connected IoT devices
Innovations like automation and AI are set to benefit greatly from 5G as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. 5G will allow communications for up to a million devices per square kilometre. Expect to see a huge amount of progress in this space as developers work out new ways to use the technology in monitoring supply chains, stock tracking, route planning, traffic management and applications we won’t even have thought of yet.
Work with more data
5G has a higher bandwidth than any networks before it, which means that more data can be transferred between devices. This means teams can upload and download larger amounts of content such as photos or videos and send them with ease – crucial bandwidth as more and more businesses work in the cloud.
Outside of the workplace, 5G presents the opportunity for so much innovation, from driverless cars, drones, robotics and remote-controlled machinery – giving businesses at the forefront of creating and using such technologies a competitive edge. Manufacturing operations will become more flexible and efficient with reduced maintenance costs, and access to huge amounts of data.
While it hasn’t been fully deployed yet, it’s a good idea to start planning for 5G by understanding how it could support your goals.