Ideas and Opinions: What does 5G revolution mean for businesses?


5G is on everyone’s mind. The technology, touted by some as the perfect tonic for floundering productivity in the business world, is making its way out of the lab and into the field.

But what really is 5G? What will the emerging network technology provide? And what does it mean for businesses in the UK and around the world?

Let’s start at the beginning. 5G refers to the emerging network technologies that make up the next generation of connectivity. Figures for speeds vary, but the ITU IMT-2020 standard points to speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second.

By way of some context, this give users the ability to download a full HD movie in less than 10 seconds on a 5G network, compared to over 10 minutes on a current 4G set up. The technology builds on the 3G and 4G mobile standards, dramatically expanding the amount of data processed between devices using the network.

For businesses, 5G is expected to usher in a highly improved standard of network connectivity, capable of facilitating fast, accurate and real-time processing of information. Fundamentally, the technology is all about enabling large amounts of data to be processed at speed.

This means that businesses will be able to become more mobile than ever before, allowing their employees to work anywhere via access to a 5G network. By removing the need for employees to access WiFi in order to make hi-res video calls and send and receive files, 5G is set to accelerate the revolution in modern, flexible working.

But what about the technical benefits? Well, businesses need precision, and 5G offers that in the form of lower latency. We’ll experience much less delay when using our phones and other devices on 5G systems. Currently, using 4G networks, latency is typically around 40-50 milliseconds.

5G promises to chop this delay to 1 millisecond or less, making it practically undetectable to the user. The next generation of networks will also enjoy greater capacity, meaning systems will be able to cope better with running several high-demand applications concurrently. From smart cities and the Internet of Things, to VR/AR experiences and simultaneous HD video streaming, 5G can support several high level uses cases at the same time.

5G is also expected to be much more reliable than the current 4G systems. This reliability will manifest itself in a lack of dropped calls or connectivity, which will allow businesses to use it in critical use cases; including the likes of crisis communications, digital health and connected cars.

The networks also promise to be more flexible, permitting network ‘slicing’ that allows a physical network to be divided into multiple virtual networks so the operator can use a segment that aligns with the requirements of any given use case.

These capabilities enable 5G to support a variety of devices with unparalleled speed, scale and complexity, offering robust connectivity tailored to businesses in every industry. In practice, this will allow multiple devices to transfer large volumes of data from anywhere in the world, helping to provide businesses with the ability to create complex network ecosystems detached from a single geographical location.

This process of network broadening will mean all businesses will be able to make the technical and economic case for flexible working, removing the need to house all members of its staff under one roof.

5G will soon be open for business, and with its superior levels of connectivity, it’s widely expected to enhance business communications and productivity in way that its predecessors have been unable to fully match.

This type of network connectivity will not only improve pre-existing services, but will also provide a suite of newer, more intelligent capabilities. 5G is coming and the technology is set to allow businesses to work faster, smarter and more efficiently than ever before.