The UK has taken great strides in developing its network infrastructure to support the ongoing rollout of 5G this year.
Despite widespread coverage not expected until at least 2025, consumers have been fed the benefits of 5G through advertisements from communications providers for some time now.
This could lead the average viewer to believe that the advent of 5G is little more than a more reliable connection for their mobile phone. In reality, its potential is far greater, and tech experts believe that, with significantly faster upload and download speeds, 5G has the capacity to revolutionise how we live and work.
We spoke with Oliver Rowe, founder and CEO of telecoms company, Fusion Communications, about the introduction of 5G and the benefits businesses should expect to see with the continued rollout.
What are users currently lacking with 4G, and how can we expect 5G to fill these wants and needs?
“In light of the pandemic, companies have expanded the technology they use, and the demands on traditional 4G have stretched it to its limit. A few years ago, 4G networks overcame the connectivity and speed issues encountered by previous generations [2G, 3G], and accelerated person to person communication.
“While 4G networks were primarily designed for phones, 5G networks are designed for more flexible use, replacing the need for multiple special-purpose networks. 5G technology opens up radically new business opportunities that were not previously possible.
“5G is more than just a faster network. It works by bringing together different technologies that have emerged since the advent of 4G, and connecting them to people, machines, and global cloud infrastructures to create an enhanced solution.”
5G promises faster connection speeds and a higher device capacity than its predecessor. What does this mean for businesses?
“5G is undoubtedly faster than its predecessors. 4G has a peak speed of 1GB per second. In theory, 5G is expected to be 20 times faster than 4G LTE, resulting in the potential to achieve speeds of 20GB per second.
“5G offers businesses the connectivity they need, both now and in the future, and can support an estimated one million connected devices per 0.38 miles. In comparison, 4G supports only 100,000.
“Greater device capacity, and faster connection speeds allow for simultaneous connection of thousands of enabled devices. Businesses will also be able to move vast amounts of data, including simultaneous data transfers, without network issues.
5G technology offers an extremely low latency rate, reducing to only 1ms from 4G’s 200ms. What are the advantages of lower latency?
“With businesses’ increased reliance on technology, latency periods have become more than a minor inconvenience, especially for those that utilise IoT [Internet of Things] within their model.
“Lower latency results in less delays and lag when using the network. With latency of 1ms or less on 5G networks, businesses can transfer data in a split second for smooth and immediate feedback, increasing productivity and bringing a great deal of agility into their workflow.”
The IoT [Internet of Things] is rising, with the number of connected devices set to rise from 700 million to 3.2 billion in 2023. What effect will 5G have on IoT?
“IoT’s success is tied to its performance, which is dependent on how quickly it can communicate with other IoT devices, smartphones and tablets, apps and more. 5G’s greater bandwidth allows for better connectivity of multiple IoT devices and will go a long way towards improving their productivity and reliability.
“A reliable and stable network is important for any IoT, but especially for businesses that utilise connected devices such as security cameras, locks, and monitoring systems that depend on real-time updates.
“5G technology has improved connectivity for businesses that are built around an IoT, taking them closer to the millions of consumers that currently use 5G enabled devices.”
Can you explain what is meant by 5G’s promise of network slicing capabilities?
“Until now, the same physical infrastructure had to serve a wide variety of use cases, despite having different requirements.
“Network slicing can be defined as a network configuration that allows multiple virtualised and independent networks to be created on top of a common multi-domain infrastructure. This means each slice of the network can be allocated based on the specific needs of application, use case, or customer.
“Network slicing is one of the most important technologies within the rollout of 5G, and will support new services with differing requirements, whether it be a connected vehicle to a voice call, each of which require different throughput, latency, and reliability.”
What are the advantages of network slicing for businesses?
“5G’s capability for network slicing will alter the landscape of remote and hybrid working, as it offers the ability to dedicate a piece of bandwidth for specific application. In essence, businesses will be able to prioritise their meeting software, meaning they won’t sacrifice quality or lose connection, no matter what else is putting stress on the network.
“Additionally, network slicing offers the potential to add extra security measures to particular slices that handle more critical applications, something not afforded by Wi-Fi, making it more resilient to cyber-attacks since breaches can be contained in one slice and prevented from affecting other parts of the network.”
While widespread coverage isn’t expected until 2025, why should businesses looking to adopt 5G begin preparations sooner rather than later?
“The 5G rollout is happening now and quickly. At present, many businesses are unaware of the game-changing opportunities the technology presents for operators.
“Now is the time for businesses to prepare by developing their own 5G strategies, as preparing now will give them the best chance to understand the capabilities and how to benefit from them as 5G becomes more prevalent.
“Organisations looking to future-proof their systems and products must recognise the new network’s potential. They can begin to plan for a truly universal wireless user experience, eliminating the need for physical cabling, and reducing infrastructure costs, all while improving employee satisfaction and connectivity.”
According to the CCS Insight report, this year, global 5G network connections are expected to reach 1.34 billion. How will this expansion affect telecommunications technology?
“The benefits extend beyond businesses to the telecommunications sector itself. There is the opportunity for new revenue streams, specifically by supporting service providers relying on 5G, in addition to end users.
“5G will allow telecommunications companies to begin monetising their networks and adapting delivery to suit a wide range of cases.
“To achieve this, they will need to focus on maximising country coverage by focusing on 5G services that are already compatible with 4G core mobile networks, followed by expanding high-speed availability, before finally reimagining their products and revenue streams with new business opportunities.”