Let’s spare a thought for those fortunate Millennials, who’ve grown up in such a tech-centric world that the arrival of 5G might be the least exciting thing they’ve ever heard of.
As a misty-eyed child of the greatest generation - Generation X – I witnessed the spectacle of the first colour mobile phone screen (as many as 16 colours!) and the Earth-shattering impact of WAP internet, may it rest in peace. Today’s teens will never know those joys – nor that there once existed speeds even slower than eGPRS.
However old or nostalgic you are, the eve of 5G is promising the greatest evolution of the mobile network yet. When you consider the volume, speeds and possibilities of the data being shared, the 5G network is potentially transformative.
Let’s confirm the most obvious expectation: 5G will of course be faster than all previous Gs - no surprises there. Yet it’s the possibilities, not the speed itself, that’ll be the real eye-opener. The proof will be in the pudding on those claims of “faster-than-broadband” network speeds, but if the promise is ultimately realised, then tasks once relegated to our home environment will be available from anywhere.
On an industrial scale, projects in the conceptual stage could see their ideas come to life more realistically – with fast traffic updates for autonomous cars (or the adorable delivery robots of Milton Keynes’ Starship Technologies), and remote factory working with latency-free controls.
Upload speeds are also being given a significant boost. While 4G prioritised getting data to your phone as soon as possible, 5G is more about the equal sharing of data. This means that workers, wherever they are, won’t only have superior access to networks and documents – they’ll be able to edit, share and upload in a more collaborative environment.
As with any technology, however, new arrivals bring new complications – and 5G security is still being questioned. As the Internet of Things continues to grow (and the standard of its security remains wildly uneven), 5G networks will need to be able to accommodate a growing list of frameworks, all while keeping their own connections secure. 5G might mimic the speeds of WiFi, but asking it to perform the same tasks while maintaining those steeper security standards might prove taxing.
Naturally, network operators know this, and 5G is being built to significantly more secure standards than 4G. For starters, 5G encrypts data by default, which makes it safer than a public WiFi spot. It also uses three core network processes – radio, transport and core – with operators using a mixture of suppliers over each. Those concerned about the government’s controversial adoption of Huawei for their 5G provision might be reassured to learn that the Chinese tech company will only provide on a radio level – which handles data of little value to cyber-criminals.
For businesses, the new capabilities of 5G could provide some intriguing possibilities. Admittedly, at this early stage, 5G still has plenty left to prove – but it arrives alongside the growing popularity of remote working. As well as making remote working connections more reliable, 5G’s faster upload speeds will make it quicker and easier to share larger documents over shared networks. For those who hold regular remote meetings, VR conferencing would indeed become possible, and add some much-needed personality and presence to team meetings.
All of this could be diligently handled by the new possibilities provided by 5G’s network slicing capabilities -which essentially provides businesses with a personalised 5G network.
It’s fun to speculate, but we won’t know the true benefits of 5G until it’s standardised across the UK – something which isn’t expected to happen until 2022. Of course, that makes now the perfect time to prepare your business’s remote working policy; something our free eBook, The Guide to Successful Remote Working, might make much easier for you.
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