5G is the new technology that mobile carriers are all raving about. This blog post explains what it is, why you’d want it for your business users, and when you should consider it.
5G is the next generation of mobile technology. 3G gave us mobile browsing, and 4G gave us mobile browsing that wasn’t frustrating and awful. Now, 5G gives us connections an order of magnitude faster than 4G. For example, Vodafone cites average speeds of 150-200Mbps and peak speeds of up to 1Gbps for its 5G service, compared to 23-35Mbps and peak speeds of 150Mbps for 4G.
To get these faster data rates, 5G networks use higher-frequency transmissions. The trade-off is that their signals have a shorter range, with distances varying depending on the frequency. Objects like building and trees can also block some 5G transmissions.
To get around this, carriers are installing larger numbers of smaller base stations, known as small cell stations. They’re flooding cities with them, putting them on everything from light posts to traffic signals to ensure that the signals get everywhere.
Companies are also preparing 5G networks for the connected device (IoT) era, setting them up to cope with far more devices than 4G networks could. They’re doing this with massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) and beam forming. Between them, these radio technologies support simultaneous communication with far more devices and minimise the interference between them.
Why is this important for business users? If the tech works as it’s supposed to, it will support more connected devices in dense locations without dropping signal quality. Even in a crowded airport or conference hall, you’ll be able to get fast data access and a good voice signal no matter how many other people are connecting at once.
The use cases for 5G, at least initially, are likely to be more of the same but faster. Faster streaming and downloads will be a big bonus for gamers and movie watchers alike, and we’re sure many executives will appreciate those benefits too. Experiences like editing documents with others in real time from your phone or tablet while on the road will also become more reliable. It could also support technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality more reliably, with better performance.
The logistics of using 5G
Installing small cells is expensive, but EE, Vodafone, and Three have all rolled out 5G in select cities and plan to bring more online this year. O2 switches on its own network this month, October 2019, and hopes to cover 50 towns and cities by summer 2020.
Phones that support this technology include the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G, LG’s V50 ThinQ 5G, the OPPO Reno 5G, and Huawei Mate X. For all its whizz-bang software features, Apple’s iPhone is woefully behind the curve. Don’t expect 5G until its next major phone refresh in 2020.
Do you need it?
4G phones will still soldier along perfectly well for the time being, and you’ll probably find the benefits of 5G limited by patchy in-city coverage for the first few months. However, as small cell stations proliferate, high-speed 5G coverage will become less of an exception and more of the norm, in large towns and cities, at least.
It may not be worth rushing out to refresh business phones early just for a bump to 5G. On your next scheduled refresh, though, opting for this new network technology is an easy decision — especially if you plan on keeping your business phones for a while.
Check out the popular 5G devices below