How will 5G impact business?

Three ways 5G networks will change business for the better

Woman wearing VR headset

5G networks are everywhere in the news these days. While the term is used often enough for many business owners to be familiar with it, not everyone understands what 5G is, its key benefits and how it can change business for the better.

5G is the fifth-generation technology of public wireless networks. While it sounds incremental in its naming convention, 5G is less of an evolution from 4G than a giant leap forward. 4G networks are built with large radio towers that transmit signals over long distances using lower frequency radio waves. 5G networks will add many more small-cell antennas connected to buildings, streetlights and other objects. These small cells will transmit massive amounts of data over short distances using ultra-high-frequency spectrum. This combination of different network access points, frequencies and cloud-based network technologies will create the 5G networks of the near future.

There are three key attributes of 5G networks that will benefit businesses:

  • More capacity
  • Faster response times
  • Faster speeds (download and upload)

Read on for simple explanations of these features and how businesses can take advantage of them once 5G is officially introduced in Canada.

Lower latency means greater opportunity

Latency refers to response time – the length of time it takes between something (like a data packet) being sent and received. Current 4G latency is about 50 milliseconds. 5G latency will decrease that to about one millisecond, or one thousandth of a second – 400 times faster than the blink of an eye. Low latency is important for anything that requires a true real-time reaction, such as self-driving vehicles and remotely controlled robotics. It also means more opportunities to use augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

How can this benefit businesses? Lower latency means businesses will stream high-resolution video, audio and images instantaneously – and without any lag or glitches – meaning richer communication experiences with both customers and remote workers. Innovative businesses looking to use cutting-edge applications like AR, VR, or 3D will do so in a more meaningful way with 5G. Contractors and interior designers will walk clients through virtual rooms before building the real thing, enabling easier decision-making and more accurate outcomes, and tradespeople will train on how to fix new machinery using virtual simulations.

The connectivity advantage

Adding more capacity to the network will increase the number of devices that can communicate with each other. Although the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming more widely adopted, most communication today happens between people using smart phones. With 5G, we’ll see a dramatic increase in devices and machines talking to each other – experts anticipate that 5G will be able to connect 500 times more connected devices than 4G. Smart cities of the near future are predicted to have millions of sensors per square kilometre, all connected to the 5G network and enabling IoT devices. This connectivity will help emergency responders arrive faster by rerouting traffic, and aid governments in managing natural disasters to help save lives and infrastructure.

How will this benefit businesses? Companies with fleets or machinery will be able to use IoT with 5G to maximize the efficiency and usage of equipment. For example, a delivery company can use IoT with 5G to pinpoint a truck’s exact location in real time to alert the recipient and ensure that the most efficient and effective routes are in use at all times. While some organizations currently use IoT for asset management, 5G will speed up the process, and provide even more accurate data. From a warehousing perspective, 5G will allow companies to use smart shelves, which can track when a product is running low and trigger an action, which will keep the supply chain running smoothly and efficiently.

A big boost for bandwidth

Increased bandwidth in 5G will allow for very high download speeds, which will improve applications and reduce bottlenecks. The change from 4G to 5G will be dramatic: 4G download speeds are 100Mbps; 5G download speeds will eventually be10Gbps. Imagine if every fan at a basketball game tried to leave the stadium from the same door; that can be the experience on an over-burdened 4G network. The increased bandwidth of 5G will be like opening every door in the building. Some early tests show that at 1Gbps, a user could download an HD movie in under 36 seconds, a TV show in under three seconds and 25 songs in under one second.

How can this benefit businesses? Increased bandwidth means that massive video files or presentations can be shared in seconds, providing a nimbleness for remote workers who may need to download files on the fly. Similarly, remote workers can seamlessly engage in HD video communications no matter where they are located.

The promises of 5G are plentiful, and are more than just hype – they’re on their way. 5G, which should begin rolling out in Canada in 2020, will change the way that Canadian governments, enterprises, and SMBs alike will communicate, work, and engage with customers and partners. The possibilities of 5G are really only bound by what businesses can imagine and create, so now is the time to consider how your business can unlock, benefit and thrive from the potential of 5G.

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