5G’s potential has had widespread coverage in the run-up to its official launch, with two benefits standing out in particular.
First, users can expect speeds of between 10 and 100 times faster than 4G, the latter of which is almost incomprehensibly quick.
Second, it will offer far greater device connectivity, with enough bandwidth for millions of simultaneously connected devices.
For many, the most exciting aspect of 5G technology is the pivotal role it will play in maximising other technologies – such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, automation and cloud computing. Autonomous vehicles no longer seem such an unfathomable concept, for example.
In the world of business, many are excited about the possibilities 5G will open up – particularly in terms of enterprise mobility. But some are sceptical about how much difference it will really make, believing that the capital investment required to switch their mobile infrastructure to 5G is not worth it – at least not yet.
So, in practice, how can we see 5G actually impacting the UK’s business landscape?
Here are four effects we expect to see.
1. Better tech infrastructure for smaller cities
Before 5G, established business ‘hubs’ such as London, Birmingham and Manchester already had sufficient technological infrastructure to attract large commercial organisations, which in turn enabled further economic growth in each city.
Smaller cities, meanwhile, had comparatively basic infrastructure – making them less attractive and therefore limiting their growth potential.
Once all the 5G roll-out phases are complete, with the same infrastructure across all UK cities, we should find that there’s a more level playing field, paving the way for growth and investment in smaller cities over the coming years.
2. Even more remote/mobile working
Today’s workers want the freedom to fit their work around their lives, rather than vice versa.
The “9-to-5 in the office” setup has already started giving way to flexible and remote working options, with many professionals now able to work from anywhere, provided they have their laptop and/or a mobile and a sufficient internet connection.
5G will give them an even stronger argument, and – crucially – it will also help to reassure employers that remote working is indeed feasible and efficient, both in terms of staff productivity and cost.
3. Greater choice in recruitment
As remote working becomes increasingly feasible and popular, employees will not necessarily have to live within easy reach of the office. If equipped with the right technology, they could theoretically live on the other side of the country and be just as productive and effective as an office-based colleague.
Employers will thereby have more candidates to choose from for any given role, which should prove especially valuable when hiring for positions that are specialist or senior (or both).
The upshot? Both employees and employers can be more selective.
4. Increased reliance on cloud technology
5G’s extremely low latency allows mobile devices to connect to the cloud far more easily than previously. This will likely result in wider adoption of cloud services, and less reliance on in-built device storage – with future mobile design rumoured to reflect that.
Many UK businesses have already migrated their IT infrastructures to the cloud, because it allows them to go infrastructure-free but also enhances their enterprise mobility, so the arrival of 5G should encourage more organisations to follow suit. In a world where employees are increasingly working from home or on the move, or spread out across several offices, the cloud offers a cost-effective way to centralise your business documents and data, and truly connect your workplace.