Throughout the evolution of the internet and cellular networks, people have usually not been privy to the characteristics of the different generations of networks. Locally I would say people started showing widespread interest and awareness when we transitioned from 2G to 3G and subsequently to 4G. It’s unfortunate that due to limited infrastructural upgrades or development most places still don’t have 4G whilst some even don’t have 3G coverage. This is quite disturbing considering that other countries are already establishing 5G networks which are the next big thing. Let’s take a look at what 5G is and what it’ll do for businesses.
What Is 5G?
5G (fifth generation) is the latest generation of mobile/cellular networks on the Global Standard for Mobile (GSM) standard. However, 5G is revolutionary in that it goes beyond just cellular and spans across the whole spectrum of internet networks and devices connected to it. 5G is postulated to be the single most powerful force that is going to drive the expansion of the 4th industrial revolution.
Characteristics of 5G
5G is said to be able to offer faster speeds ranging from 1.5Gbits to 5Gbits per second with some very astounding projections indicating speeds as high as 10Gbits per second. Speeds of this magnitude will imply that you will be able to download, for instance, a 2-hour HD video in roughly 5 to 10 seconds. Currently, speeds that have actually been empirically achieved are averaging 1Gbit per second. Comparing this with 4G LTEs 1Gbit per second and 3G’s 2Mbits per second maximum speeds you get a feeling of what the fuss is around 5G.
Latency simply refers to the time that elapses between the departure of a data set from a sender and its reception by the intended recipient. 5G will be characterised by substantial decreases in latency – thus, the time lag will be greatly reduced.
It is apparent that technology innovations are so fast-paced and they will continue to be. This means it will be essential for current innovations to have the capacity to adapt to any future advancements. So it is said that 5G will have the capacity to accommodate any future tech innovations that might not be even fathomable now.
How Businesses Shall Be Impacted
The latency issues I highlighted earlier will immensely augment artificial intelligence and automation systems – which are central to most businesses. 5G will expand the capacity and expanse of the IoT (internet of things) meaning that diagnostics, data analytics and decision support systems will become super-efficient. The high processing speeds and reduced latencies brought about by 5G will increase productivity. This means that production time will be reduced thus ensuring that goods or services are timeously made available. Network slicing will play a major role in enhancing productivity. 5G will effectively allow the breaking down of one network into numerous virtual networks. This will go a long way in abating congestion and strategically allocating or scheduling network resources based on necessity or demand.
Enhanced Business Value
Due to increased speeds for data exchange, collection and processing, online communications will be greatly enhanced. 5G will enable businesses to adopt competitively affordable prices for goods and services. This will lead to growth and profitability. Here is how: 5G is going to significantly eliminate the need for physical entities (which tend to be expensive to acquire or maintain) in their business operations. Cloud computing will become the mainstay of business operations and that will reduce overheads costs significantly. 5G has the potential to completely remove the reliance on brick and mortar facilities thus giving rise to more e-commerce and remote working. This ultimately gives businesses the liberty to offer very affordable brands whilst making huge profits. An example is how mobile gadgets can be so impacted by 5G. Experts say that 5G will lead to a reduced requirement for high onboard storage capacities and will enhance battery performance due to fast speeds and the leveraging of cloud computing. That translates to a pricing regime that makes mobile devices more affordable. Another reduction of overhead costs will stem from the widespread adoption of virtual meetings. Enhanced virtual meetings (video calls, video conferencing, or live-streams) will supplant the need to incur travel and accommodation costs for physical interactions.
Data Security & Privacy
We are already seeing the wave of the blockchain technology that’s sweeping across the globe. Blockchain technology promises to guarantee the security and transparency of a wide array of business transactions. With the exceptional attributes of 5G, blockchain will become easier to implement and advance. Issues of data security have always been a major consumer concern and thus any headway in ensuring it will create a positive public perception for any business.
Creation Of New Frontiers
5G will foster the development of new products or services in unexpected ways. Businesses will notice the need to shift their value propositions and redefine their business strategies. Things like augmented reality or virtual reality will become pivotal in aspects like retail services, gaming services and productions lines, among many others. Businesses will have to brace for and anticipate the emergence of new jobs or the need for new skill sets. Training and consultancy will be very important for any business as 5G becomes mainstream.
Enhanced Mobile Experience
This is going to result from most of the 5G attributes I explained earlier. It’s now the norm that businesses are heavily dependent on online digital marketing because that’s where most people are easily reachable. With stats showing that most people access the internet and social media using mobile devices, it means businesses will benefit a great deal. Marketing efforts of businesses will be boosted and their cost will be significantly reduced.
The Finance minister recently indicated that they are in the process of trying to lure investors to roll out 5G networks in Zimbabwe. Considering that we overall lag behind in terms of internet and mobile infrastructure it’s going to be a long haul before 5G gets established locally. Regardless it’s still a step in the right direction if we are to stay abreast with current developments in the 4th industrial revolution.