There’s plenty of hype about 5G everywhere you look – but most of the attention falls on what the next generation of cellular internet connection will bring personal users. The fact is, 5G’s got a lot to give business users too – and it’s got the potential to unlock some exciting opportunities…
What exactly is 5G?
3G, 4G – and soon, 5G; they’re all commonly accepted parts of our language now – but what do they actually mean?
Well, it’s useful to start a quick recap of digital communications with 2G. These second-generation networks were telecoms companies first steps into digital transmissions – carrying voice and a little additional data; including SMS, caller ID, and so forth. 3G added to this, making it possible to transmit and receive much more data; paving the way for media messages, emails, the display of real websites, and meaningful applications.
In truth, 4G didn’t really add any functionality in the way 3G did, it simply bumped up the sheer amount of data that could be carried. 5G continues this increase this volume of traffic enormously again, doing away with one of 4G’s biggest issues; latency.
Latency is the delay in delivering data. Every network is made up of physical components – and each of those components has a maximum bandwidth, the amount of data that it can handle at any one time. You can measure the latency in any network and explore how to reduce it – but you’ll always be constrained by bandwidth. New 5G networks are built on technology that reduces latency issues until they’re virtually non-existent, providing almost real-time transfer of data. Initial estimates suggest 5G will provide transfer speeds of 5-10x what you could expect with 4G – but industry leaders think that could be 100x as the technology develops.
What does 5G mean for businesses?
Transfer speed increases mean that stuttering streaming will be a thing of the past – but what does it mean for businesses? Well, there’s a lot of IT infrastructure that’s built around 4G tech – especially 4G routers. While you can buy a 4G router that’s capable of delivering leisure-standard Wi-Fi to any location, you can also find business-standard units, capable of handling multiple-SIMs and delivering a wireless internet connection that matches the speed of a wired connection running into your office.
Clearly, the step up to 5G heralds another new era in mobile connection speeds. Many 4G routers are already 5G compatible, so the cost of bringing high-speed, wire-free connections to your business location is reduced.
If you’ve ever been involved in a wired internet circuit installation process, you’ll understand why wireless is such an attractive prospect. Standard business connection times tend to take somewhere between 1-2 months to deliver, assuming there are no complications. If there are complications (the requirement for digging, landlord permission, etc) then installation times will often run toward 3-4 months or more.
5G routers, properly configured, will unlock the possibility of being at work and online in hours, rather than months – and this unlocks a world of possibility in an era where ‘market agility’ is a crucial part of success.
Using 5G to solve business networking issues
While 5G routers and wide area network (WAN)setups are useful for sidestepping the installation process involved with getting a wired circuit into your premises, their applications are far wider – and include:
Setting up satellite offices quickly
There are instances where offices need to be online quickly – especially if there’s been any issues relating to disaster recovery or cyber-security. 5G routers will allow you to create a working office anywhere, keeping your operations on track. Getting doors reopened after any kind of business issue is first step in making a recovery.
Safely placing employees with clients
For many consultancy firms or service providers, it’s not uncommon to put a staff member or staff team into a client’s business, to work alongside them through projects or times of need. While this in itself unlocks enormous potential, it also comes with risks – especially when you’re the person ultimately responsible for the safeguarding of data your team handles. To ensure you’re working in-line with latest data protection regulations, it’s vital to control your own network. 5G will let you do this – without being impeded by speed.
Scaling your workforce up quickly
With scores of exceptional freelancers and consultants at any businesses’ disposal, scaling up your workforce a short notice is possible – but it’s often difficult to create the IT infrastructure you need to underpin such a task. 5G will let you do this quickly, creating WAN solutions that’ll keep up with the best wired solutions – but are at your disposal in a fraction of the time.
Displaying at shows and expos at full potential
Shows and expos present exciting opportunities – but you’ll often find yourself sharing IT infrastructure with other users and companies. If speeds can keep up, security often can’t – so taking your own connection tends to make a lot of sense. You might be able to bluff your way through with screenshots, nicely created presentations, and (if you’re taking orders and payments) mobile card machines – but why take the risk that you’ll look under-prepared; with a 5G router, you’ll be able to bring your systems – all of them – including any POS till hardware that’ll help set you up properly.
Establishing a connection anywhere
For many businesses, you’ll never be far from the possibility of a wired internet circuit (even if it does take quite some time to install). However, there are industries where wires will never be an option – especially for those who work in exploration, archaeology, drilling, security, shipping, and more. For these – and many more – types of company, having internet is often a luxury, let alone the coverage and speed that 5G will provide. Of course, it’s not just these companies directly that benefit, working alongside these companies will also become a real possibility for contractors who would otherwise find themselves cut-off from the world.
5G and your business
Perhaps these sound like opportunities that you could explore, or perhaps you’ve never even considered stepping outside of an environment that provides a secure, wired internet connection. Whatever your company’s current approach to networking, there’s a lot of flexibility that 5G will bring – now you just need to consider how to make this new era of telecoms work for you.