5G Networks: What Are They and Why Do They Matter for Your Business?

Sean Connell, Chief Technology Officer

Few technologies have received as much hype and media attention as 5G mobile networks. For a few years now, operators, manufacturers, and equipment vendors have been promising that 5G is on its way and that it will revolutionize mobile as we know it.

And yet, it’s 2019 and 5G networks remain somewhat mysterious.

As leaders in mobile networking fight to win early 5G market share, it’s your job to cut through all the noise and figure out how these innovative networks will impact your business.

In the coming years, 5G networks will become more practical than theoretical. And now is the time to prepare yourself to take advantage.

What Is 5G and Why Should You Care?

5G networks are the next generation of mobile connectivity. The main concept of 5G cellular networking shouldn’t be confused with 5G WiFi or 5G E branded phones. Rather, this is the next iteration of mobile networking that follows 4G cellular service.

In the late 1970s, we had 1G networks that relied on analog radio systems to make voice calls. Then, 1991 brought 2G networks that enabled SMS and MMS messaging. The early 2000s brought the rise of 3G networking that significantly increased speeds and allowed users to make mobile video calls, share files, browse the internet, play games, and more.

And today, innovative mobile experiences as we know them run on 4G networks, which have less latency than 3G networks, higher voice quality, easy access to social media and messaging, and faster download speeds.

But 5G networks promise to deliver significant improvements over today’s 4G connectivity. While carriers like AT&T and Verizon are experimenting with this level of service in certain areas, we likely won’t see larger-scale rollouts until 2022. However, we know that there are three key components to 5G’s advantages:

  • Faster Speeds: The peak speed of a 5G network could reach 20 GBps whereas 4G networks maxed out at 1 GBps. That’s a 20x improvement in cellular speed that can help consumers download even large HD movie files in seconds rather than minutes. Even in a more practical sense, 4G networks can provide around 100 MBps speeds while 5G networks should deliver average speeds of 1 MBps.
  • Less Latency: Speed isn’t everything in a mobile network. Perhaps more important is latency—the time it takes to get a response to transmitted information. Latency in existing 4G networks may be acceptable for something like mobile gaming or messaging but limits more advanced mobile use cases like autonomous driving. And 5G isn’t just reducing latency. With sub-millisecond delays, 5G could nearly eliminate latency altogether.
  • More Bandwidth: Because 5G networks operate at higher frequencies than 4G, they open up a massive amount of data capacity that has never been available. That means we can connect more devices and sensors without bogging down networks to the point that performance falls short of what’s necessary for innovative use cases.

All of these advantages support the “more, better, faster” mindset of modern businesses. But without practical 5G network deployments, it can be difficult to understand why you should care about any of this.

According to an Oracle survey, 80% of decision makers at medium and large enterprises believe these 5G capabilities will increase employee productivity, reduce costs, enhance customer experiences, improve business agility, and generate new revenue streams.

However, you’ll only unlock these benefits by embracing the most impactful business use cases for 5G networks.

3 Business Use Cases for 5G Connectivity

All the benefits of 5G connectivity will be for nothing if we can’t find ways to harness its power to improve business processes and customer experiences. However, 60% of CTOs at the world’s largest telco companies say that communicating business cases is the hardest part of 5G strategy.

While it’s important to remember that 5G connectivity is currently being over-hyped to an extent, the following business use cases should be enough to get any CX leader planning for this new age of mobile networking.

  • Hyper-Personalization: The technical capabilities of 5G networks help you take advantage of “fast data,” which is data that’s collected and operationalized at unprecedented speeds and volumes. By supporting any AI-powered systems with fast data, you’ll be able to generate more accurate real-time insights that help your employees deliver hyper-personalized experiences. It’s not just pushing an ad to a consumer who recently visited your website. Rather, it’s empowering customer service agents with layer upon layer of customer data to eliminate any friction in interactions.
  • Immersive Experiences: Virtual and augmented reality are supposed to be the next big things in customer experience. However, latency on 4G networks makes it almost impossible to take advantage of these technologies. While 4G networks offer around 50ms of latency, VR users will experience nausea with anything more than 20ms. Next-gen VR and AR customer experiences will require less than 5ms of latency—something that 5G connectivity is more than capable of delivering. With such low latency and high speeds, 5G networks will let you design immersive experiences that have never been possible in the past.
  • Internet of Things and Customer Service: We’re already seeing how IoT devices like smart home systems, factory sensors, and smartwatches are opening the door for more innovative customer experiences. But with the reduced latency and greater reliability of 5G connectivity, IoT devices will become gateways for more innovative customer service interactions. One of the best examples is telehealth. By connecting IoT-enabled healthcare devices to 5G networks, providers will be able to collect more accurate patient data, deliver more diagnostic services, and empower customer service agents to proactively address issues with adherence.

These are just a few of the ways that 5G networks will help transform customer experiences and businesses at large. While we’re still in the pre-deployment days of 5G, it’s important to create strategies that will help you take advantage of the new mobile networks when they become available. If you don’t get out ahead of strategic planning, you’ll risk falling behind competitors once 5G networks become a mainstream reality.

If you want help planning for the rise of 5G, contact us today and discover how this new connectivity can fit into your business.