We’ve provided a brief overview of 5G, and what it could mean for you and your business today and in the future.
Do we really need another G? What's the latest with 5G and how will it benefit me?
5G: you’ll have heard the hype, probably seen it backed by Kevin Bacon, and may have bought a 5G device or devices. But how much do you really know about the fifth generation of mobile networks? Are you really getting the benefits of 5G from your 5G device? And apart from ‘better, faster’, what are those much-hyped benefits?
Always keen to provide clarity on trending topics, we’ve provided a brief overview of 5G, and what it could mean for you and your business today and in the future.
What is 5G?
The specs of 5G have been set by telco industry bodies including the ITU and 3GPP. A vast improvement on 4G, 5G will support a number of different use cases which have been categorised and listed below.
The definitions here are a very high-level interpretation – for a more detailed overview, I’d recommend this paper by industry body the GSMA. In the meantime, these categories:
- Enhanced mobile broadband: a better experience for smart devices users, including faster download speeds.
- Ultra-reliable and low latency communications: this will support things like virtual reality (VR) and connected cars, which need very reliable and secure connectivity to function.
- Massive machine-type communications: this will enable a lot of connections in a small geographical area, so things like robotics in smart factories (check out our blog on the IoT for more info).
- Fixed Wireless Access (FWA): this will mean faster connectivity for homes and businesses in areas that were previously difficult to serve.
What’s the state of 5G deployment – where is it and available?
So, that’s what it is, but where in the world is 5G actually available?
As of March 2022, there were 200 5G networks in 70 countries. It probably won’t come as a surprise that China is leading the way in 5G deployment, with the connectivity service available in 356 cities across China. In second place is the US, with 5G availability in 296 countries. Both these numbers dwarf the UK – understandable given its size! – with 5G available in 57 cities.
The 5G race is not only about currently availability, but about rolling out more, better, faster networks in the future. And that requires money – something the United States knows all too well.
This year kicked off with a spectrum auction run by the Federal Communications Commission. Operators put in bids to snap up 5G spectrum in the C-band, with the hope that investing now will deliver returns in the future by attracting new subscribers and delivering new services. These bids totalled a staggering $81 billion for the FCC, with AT&T and Verizon the top spenders.
As for the UK: we’ve had (limited) access to 5G since 2019, with EE, Three, O2 and Vodafone having all launched services in different areas, and all promises more roll-outs.
Is 5G the future? And how excited should I be?
In a word: yes. By 2025, there will be an estimated 1.8 billion 5G connections globally. This will be big money for those involved; telco revenues from 5G are expected to hit $1.15 trillion by 2025.
It’s not only big companies making big money though. In 2020, the mobile industry supported around 25 million jobs directly and indirectly. 5G will open the door to the development and roll-out of new services and products and, thanks to this (as well as increased automation) will also create new job roles.
Another reason to get excited about 5G is the new services and products it’ll enable. 5G’s ultra low-latency and high bandwidth will help move applications like augmented reality (AR) and VR from the niche and not-quite-there-yet, to being fully immersive and ultra-lifelike.
Gaming and consumer experiences might be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of AR/VR, but the benefits will extend much further. Remote surgery, training, and maintenance and repairs will all be made possible, with AR/VR enabling communication and collaboration across vast distances.
Industrial markets like energy, utilities, manufacturing and mining will also benefit, thanks to the ability of 5G to support a very high density of devices in a small geographical area. Think smart factories featuring robotics and automation, all powered by 5G.
What does 5G mean for my business?
Think your business won’t benefit from 5G? Think again. Companies of all shapes and sizes – and across all industries – stand to gain from the evolution to the next connectivity standard.
Faster data transfer speeds will allow larger files to be sent and received with ease, and a greater number of business actions – like real-time data gathering, processing and analytics – to take place simultaneously.
Better network reliability will mean smoother communication and collaboration between colleagues working remotely. In addition to supporting your existing workforce, this also opens the door for businesses to connect with, recruit and train talent from across the globe.
5G might not be ubiquitous quite yet, but that future is near. Whether you’re thinking of embracing 5G to provide richer user experiences or to better support your workforce (or both!), the opportunities are there to be grasped.
AppDrawn has been working with businesses to provide richer user experiences for over 20 years, and we understand the challenges and opportunities new standards can bring. If you’re interested in learning how we can help your business, please get in touch.