In November 2019, 5G went live in the towns of Chatham, Gillingham, and Maidstone. The three Kent towns are among the first in the UK to have a 5G connection. Residents now enjoy the privilege of blazing-fast internet on their mobile devices that match and surpass some home broadband connections.
For comparison, 4G, the previous generation of mobile internet, has average real-world download speeds of 20 to 42 Mbps. 5G, the latest generation of mobile internet, has an average range of real-world download speeds of 150 to 240Mbps. As the technology matures, the theoretical maximum download speeds of 10Gbps can become a reality.
To put this in context, downloading an HD film takes about 10 to 30 minutes on a 4G connection. With 5G, HD videos can be downloaded in seconds.
While there is the obvious advantage of using 5G for personal internet use on-the-go, it could represent a huge opportunity for UK businesses. On a global scale, 5G is nothing short of revolutionary. According to a Qualcomm study that projects the impact of 5G, the technology will create 22 million jobs worldwide and produce up to $12.3 trillion worth of goods and services by 2035. Another study by Barclays estimates that UK businesses could get a total revenue boost between £8.3 billion to £15.7 billion by 2025 with the rollout of 5G networks.
Here are some of the major ways Kent businesses can benefit from 5G internet:
1. Increased Productivity with Remote Work
Gartner reported that by 2020, organisations that offer work flexibility will improve their employee retention rates by more than 10%. This reflects the growing desire for flexible working, as 81% believe it will make a job more attractive and 68% of British workers are offered flexible working.
5G’s improved capacities can also help increase productivity in remote work. Transferring large files to and from a business’ cloud network outside the company internet goes by quicker thanks to the faster download and upload speeds.
Also, since mobile data usage drains batteries quickly, 5G is optimised to be more energy-efficient, extending the time that can be spent working remotely.
2. Lower Overhead
With remote work becoming more of a viable option for businesses, there can be less reliance on having dedicated offices. Rent, maintenance, equipment, hardware and software, and amenities add up to a significant cost.
The initial investment in making a business 5G-ready may not be the most affordable, as not all mobile devices are capable of using 5G networks, but it pays for itself over time with lower overhead.
3. Improved Resource Allocation
5G can support up to a million devices per square kilometre connecting to one network. This is especially useful for enterprise-level businesses that require a large number of devices connected to the internet performing demanding tasks. Bottlenecks in digital workflows will be decongested.
5G technology allows for network slicing, which is basically a way to tailor parts of a business’ online network toward specific functions. Multiple virtual networks can be partitioned from one physical infrastructure. Each network can then be optimised for a particular purpose, taking only the necessary resources from the physical infrastructure.
4. More Collaborative Work Opportunities
Businesses do not operate solely on their own. There are strategic partnerships that make certain processes possible, whether it’s manufacturers and distributors with large retailers or the digital platforms where small businesses get started. 5G brings businesses even closer when they can communicate more clearly and reliably.
Lower latency means video calls and conferences can be held on-the-go in high resolution and clear audio with little to no delay. It is also touted to be more stable, resulting in fewer dropped calls. All in all, it makes business communications between remote and office workers much smoother.
5. Internet of Things Innovation
Perhaps the biggest impact 5G will have is delivering on the high-tech promises of smart cities and the Internet of Things (IoT) in a much more tangible way. With greater connectivity between online-capable devices, businesses on the cutting edge of technology such as driverless cars and drones can sell their products and services to consumers and other businesses much easier.
IoT devices are also a wellspring of data for businesses to tap into. 5G can make accessing and analysing large volumes of data generated by such devices much faster. As a result, businesses can further hone their processes and offerings to serve customers better.
5G is also an avenue for increased automation in the workplace. From manufacturing to construction to logistics, 5G technology can be an industry-changer with how it enables remote-operated machines, augmented and virtual reality interfaces, and artificial intelligence.
5G and the Future
The 5G rollout throughout the UK continues, although it won’t be until 2022 when it becomes the default mobile network connection. However, any savvy business owner should be preparing for the inevitable wave of change 5G has for the future. This includes updating their network infrastructure and investing in tighter cybersecurity measures to fully take advantage of the technology’s benefits.