Our recent The Future in 2021 survey shows that 5G is becoming more and more popular among UK businesses. But at the same time, many leaders are still not sure how their company can benefit from it. Or even whether it’s right for them.
Here, our expert John Vickery explores its main benefits. And reveals how 5G will redefine the way organisations operate across all sectors.
If you want to discover more about 5G, watch the above video of John and award-winning business journalist Steph McGovern delving into how 5G works and what it can do for your business.
1) 5G revolutionises video calls
An increase in remote working means we’re more reliant on video calls than ever before. And it looks like it’s going to stay that way. Luckily, the mobile data speed of 5G far outstrips home broadband networks. Just imagine the impact that will have on pretty much any business.
You can say goodbye to grainy picture quality while video conferencing. 5G also supports high-definition (HD) and even three-dimensional (3D) video without delays or interruptions.
2) It improves working on-the-go
Businesses with a mobile or remote workforce are transformed by 5G. There are the obvious and immediate benefits, like taking payments quickly and reliably while out and about. But there’s so much more.
For example, 5G opens a world of opportunity for businesses relying on technicians or engineers. They can now tackle skills gaps by sending lower-skilled employees out in the field and connecting them to remote experts. In a fast and reliable way. All thanks to the next generation of mobile network.
The NHS is another great example. Using the EE network, we installed 5G technology into ambulances – allowing paramedics to assess and treat patients instantly with the help of doctors based in hospitals. 5G doesn’t just improve business processes. It can save lives.
3) It’s unrivalled when it comes to reliability
Since the launch of 4G in 2012, the way we use mobile data has changed. More people are using the network and they’re now using it for things like streaming or downloading HD video. 5G has been developed with that in mind.
An overcrowded mobile network can wreak havoc when you’re using it for work. We’ve all been in situations (particularly in crowded places like stadiums or theatres) where it’s agonisingly slow or you can’t get on it at all.
But by using 5G, you will be using the latest and most efficient radio technology. It provides an extra layer of capacity and allows a large number of devices to can be connected all at once. That way, you can always depend on its superfast speeds, whatever you’re using it for.
And most of all, the low latency (and therefore the lack of delays) makes everything much safer. To give you an idea – 4G's latency is around 50 milliseconds. 5G’s latency is as low as one millisecond. Think about how big a difference that can make.
Driverless cars are the perfect example. If you’re operating a vehicle remotely, the speed of network reaction is essential to guaranteeing the safety of the passenger. Even the tiniest of delays can have huge consequences.
4) 5G takes productivity to the next level
Productivity is something every business wrestles with. If implemented the right way, 5G can improve it markedly.
Let’s take staff training as an example. At BT, we’ve carried out experiments where we trained new recruits using 5G-enabled mixed reality instead of paper manuals or guides. Put simply, we equipped them with a set of smart glasses that, when worn, can overlay digital information on top of the real world.
The results were striking. The team following paper-based instructions found them confusing and hard to follow. Meanwhile, every team member on the mixed reality team was successful, and immediately understood the advantages of the technology.
Plus, 5G helps support:
- Connections between two teams in different locations to collaborate in real time
- Improved processes via hands-free guided maintenance and AR
- Rapid deployment of cameras with video analytics that can detect or even predict potential incidents using AI
- The ability to rapidly re-configure a production line because you have wireless connections you can rely on.
5) It gives you connectivity, wherever you need it
You might ask: “why should businesses adopt 5G when wi-fi does a perfectly good job?” It’s a good question. Wi-fi is fantastic for in-building wireless connectivity – especially on smaller sites or offices. But it doesn’t give you connectivity wherever you or your staff are.
Your wi-fi network operates in a band that’s only allowed to operate at very low power. So, when it comes to adopting mobility in a larger building, factory, warehouse, or campus, then 5G cellular technology is your best option. It keeps an organisation fully connected wherever they are, whenever they need it.
6) 5G creates opportunities you never thought possible
Looking at the way companies are already using 5G in an innovative way can be truly inspirational. Even if they’re in different sectors.
From the ground up, it has already transformed the way some organisations now operate. For example, in agriculture and farming, time-consuming tasks like weeding are being taken on by robots, freeing up the workforce to focus on more productive jobs.
In the mining industry, 5G is being used to protect workers from harm. Guided autonomous vehicles are deployed to keep miners out of the most dangerous situations. And this is only possible with the speed and ultra-low latency that 5G tech offers.
7) It’s always improving
5G doesn’t simply get switched on overnight. It’s being phased in over several years, which is why “evolution” is the right word to use to describe its introduction.
And even though we’re already seeing 5G make massive impact in businesses and everyday life, it’s only going to get better. With each new release comes updated functionality and features. So, as time goes by, customers will see more and more of the benefits it has to offer.
How do I start my 5G journey?
If you’re thinking about adopting 5G, there are some quick and easy steps you can take. Here are our top tips:
Start off by making sure 5G is right for you. Ask yourself the question, how can adoption of wireless technology help my business?
- Look around and see how other businesses in your sector are using it. Many companies are already piloting using it, so they’re a great source of inspiration.
- Explore how innovators are already transforming their businesses. Bear in mind that 5G is much more than SIM cards and handsets. It’s about connecting machines, cameras, wearables, augmented reality headsets.
- Seek expert advice. We’re here to help you make more of emerging technologies like 5G. All you have to do to take the first step is get in touch.
Who is Steph McGovern?
An experienced and award-winning business journalist, Steph McGovern has a long history in covering some of the world’s biggest financial stories.
She made her television debut after winning the title of Young Engineer for Britain, having saved BLACK+DECKER money on a design she created. Following that appearance, she took up a work experience role on the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World, before becoming a part-time researcher while studying at University College London.
After graduating, Steph became the main producer for daily financial news on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. For three years Steph was the lead producer of business news on the one, six and ten o’clock news bulletins. Working with the then-business editor Robert Peston, Steph played a huge part in the award-winning coverage of the credit crunch and recession.
Steph also built her on-air profile, working as a business presenter on Radio 2 and BBC 5 Live. Now a household name, Steph regularly co-hosted BBC Breakfast until 2019, and now presents her own daily Channel 4 show: Steph’s Packed Lunch.
Born in Middlesbrough, she’s a mentor for young people in Teesside, regularly running workshops for children around the North East.
Finally, here’s something you may not know about Steph: she’s a former champion Irish dancer.