February 21st, 2020 Read Time: 6 minutes
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With network operators around the world starting to unveil the first iterations of commercially-available 5G mobile networks last year, you’ve probably heard something about the impending innovations linked with this new cellular internet technology.
Like 4G before it, experts predict that deployment of 5G will unlock a new wave of innovation based on its faster speeds and other promising attributes. According to research from Qualcomm, it’s expected to create 22 million new jobs and contribute a $12.3 Trillion economic benefit across the globe by 2035.
Do you know how this game-changing technology is poised to disrupt your industry?
How is 5G different from 4G?
• Faster Speeds will enable us to download massive files in a matter of seconds rather than minutes
• Lower Latency will eliminate lag making real-time video conferencing and virtual reality remote working capabilities possible
• Greater Capacity will allow more devices than ever to get connected which will power the capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT)
So what will 5G change?
• 5G will be the catalyst for a new wave of innovation. While experts predict it will unlock many new technologies like autonomous vehicles, AR/VR, and the Internet of Things— many currently unfathomable new technologies will also emerge
What are the potential opportunities for business?
There are many opportunities for businesses, a few include:
• The ability to scale business more quickly
• Enhanced IoT for commercial applications
• Improvements in remote working
Should my SMB prepare for 5G?
• 5G will be a major game-changer. Whether you’re an entrepreneur trying to think up the next great disruptor or just trying to keep your existing operation responsive to the times— planning now for the future is crucial for any business.
5G offers several distinct advantages over current 4G mobile technologies. The two most-hyped advantages being faster connectivity speeds and lower latency, which are poised to unlock a new realm of technologies from virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The current average download speed for 4G phones across the US is about 35 Mbps (megabits per second).
5G technology is predicted to be much faster–with some experts predicting it being as much as 100 times faster than 4G. 5G may offer speeds as fast as 10Gbps (gigabits per second). For context, this would mean people would have the ability to download massive files like a full length HD film in less than 10 seconds on a 5G network, compared to 10 minutes on 4G.
Early testing of the first commercially available 5G networks in the US has yielded speeds nowhere close to that, because the mobile network operators still need to build out more infrastructure to fully take advantage of 5G’s potential. However, these early 5G networks are still much faster than their 4G LTE predecessors.
5G will also have much lower latency, which means the delay or lag before a transfer of data will be considerably less. For example, when we’re using our phones and other devices, especially for video conferencing, we’ll experience almost no delay eliminating the “not-in-the-room” sensation we can sometimes encounter when remotely joining meetings.
With current 4G networks, latency hovers around 40-50 milliseconds. At optimal performance, 5G is predicted to be 1 millisecond or less, which will be undetectable to the user.
Think of how you’ll sometimes have very slow service or no service at all at an arena during a concert or sporting event. With 5G, the networks will have greater capacity to handle more devices running high-demand applications at once.
As 5G advances, many experts predict it will more fully unlock the capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT) which will mean more devices than ever will start to get connected to the internet via sensors. Juniper Research predicts the number of IoT connected devices will number 38.5 billion in 2020, up from 13.4 billion in 2015.
Basically—everything. If you tried explaining to someone in 2009 before 4G was launched at full scale, that smartphones and social media would usher in a mobile-first, app-for-everything mentality, they might find it hard to fathom.
Very similarly, there are vast opportunities linked with the high speeds and low latency of 5G that might seem difficult to fathom at the edge of innovation we find ourselves at currently.
91% of the Qualcomm study’s respondents feel that 5G will enable new products and services that have yet to be invented. While that seems vague and entails a bit of uncertainty—the following benefits seem likely to impact business:
Ability to scale business more quickly
Given the improved speeds and lower latency afforded by 5G, SMBs should be able to scale up operations even more seamlessly than they already are.
Companies will be able to harness 5G to drive innovations and reduce business costs, while increasing efficiency and business outputs. For example, file sharing will become faster and more efficient, even on mobile devices without the need to connect to WiFi altogether, yielding productivity gains.
Enhanced IoT for Commercial Applications
While early iterations of IoT seemed to revolve mostly around the “smart home” (think smart doorbells, lighting, and thermostats)—it will be 5G that truly unlocks IoT for commercial business applications. With more devices than ever being connected, businesses will have new ways to serve customers by anticipating their needs.
You don’t have to stretch your imagination too far, just think of how much more efficiently manufacturers and vendors will be able to keep things in stock with the implementation of sensors that tell them when a product is running low either in a warehouse or on the shelf in an actual store.
Improvements in Remote Working
Thanks to greatly improved internet speeds and workforce applications, modern employees in a variety of professions can work just about anywhere they want today.
However, with 5G’s improved latency that will eliminate the lag in video conferencing, there will no longer be that awkward delay that participants can at times face when remote working.
Coupled with advances in virtual reality, the possibilities get even more robust. Think of a doctor that could remotely assist with surgeries in hospitals across the country, operating using immersive 3D holograms.
5G is considered a major driver behind the fourth industrial revolution. Whether you’re an entrepreneur trying to think up the next great disruptor like Uber, Instagram, or WhatsApp were for 4G, or just trying to keep your existing operation responsive to the times— planning for the future of 5G is crucial for any business.
The rapid proliferation of devices and data will surely yield many privacy and security concerns—even now in 2020, consider how CCPA & the NY SHIELD Act are two new pieces of legislation just starting to impact how businesses operate in compliance to better protect against consumer data against breaches.
As 5G enables more devices to come online, more data will flow than ever before, and businesses will subsequently need to consider how to protect consumer privacy while still advancing these new technologies that help them. Cybersecurity will be paramount to this effort. It’s one thing to hack into someone’s email account, but another thing entirely to hack into forthcoming technology like an autonomous vehicle or a hospital's remotely-operated surgical devices.
Start considering now how 5G will impact your business rather than getting left behind to solve problems after early adopters have already proactively addressed them.