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The emergence of 5G will change your business

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15 May 2017

Maria Cuevas

Blogs by author:  Maria Cuevas , Head of Mobile Core Networks Research, BT

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Mobile networks are evolving. 5G is increasingly being mentioned, but not everyone is aware of how it can impact customer experience, business agility and connectivity.

We’ve asked one of our researchers how and why improvements in mobility, such as the emergence of 5G, should be on your radar.

Before we get started, what exactly is 5G and how is it different from the likes of 3G and 4G?

5G, or the fifth generation of mobile technology, is a step change in the way operators deliver mobile services to customers. On the one hand this new radio technology supports significantly higher capacity, higher speeds and lower latency, and on the other hand, the end to end architecture provides a flexible way for operators to serve the varying needs of customers.

It’s being driven by some fairly ambitious use cases, like the ability to deliver multi-gigabit speeds to handsets or support for massive numbers of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, together with the support for ultra-reliable and low latency communications.

And how will it impact businesses across the globe?

There’s a number of benefits which impact everything from efficiency to cost savings.

For example, improved capacity and speed means fewer and fewer constraints on the data you can transmit. One example of this is the way 5G provides the bandwidth needed when you’re streaming high definition videos, such as ultra-high definition 360 virtual reality videos. 5G enables businesses to make better use of the communication tools, in ways which were simply not possible before.

Another benefit, stemming from low latency, means there’s minimal delay in the time it takes to perform an action and get a reaction back (i.e. the feedback loop). In some situations this is key, for example where haptic feedback is required. For those of you wondering what that is, haptic feedback is, it uses the sense of touch in a user interface design to provide information to an end user. It’s essential for the likes of driverless cars, remote medicine or industrial automation which will all be using virtual or augmented reality in the future. Delivering it from the cloud rather than expensive user equipment will be a necessity to succeed.

Essentially, having a single network which can support IoT devices as well as mobile broadband can be a huge plus for corporates. It gives greater control and flexibility, and through the likes of networking slicing we can carve out part of the network and dedicate it to a user or an application, in turn delivering different SLA’s.

Why should our customer be on the lookout for 5G demonstrations at Innovation 2017?

Well this theme really highlights how next generation network technologies will help our customers’ businesses stay fully connected, be agile, and reach their customers in ways unimaginable today.

There will be around eight 5G-specific demos available, all highlighting different use cases for the 5G network. But we’ll also have open our brand new EE showcase, which explores future innovative services being made possible by the advent of a 5G network. Some of the demonstrations there include how we’re using drones to provide emergency network coverage, and body worn cameras via the emergency services network to aid security personnel. Plus you’ll be able to see how haptics can be used over the 5G network to provide new innovative touch and control services to the health sector amongst others.

Can you tell us a bit more about the demos on show in the exhibition hall?

There really is a lot to see, but a couple of the really game-changing demonstrations include:

1. Remote surgical diagnosis over 5G – showing how a low latency, ultra-reliable network can enable skilled procedures to be conducted at distance, such as remote diagnosis or pregnancy monitoring.

2. Best available experience – learn how 5G networks will enable operators to combine fixed and mobile networks to provide the best possible user experience, with no manual intervention from the end user.

3. 5G radio – exploring how innovative technology is enabling Gigabit speeds to devices in current mobile networks on route to the 5G future. We’ll be showing how you can benefit from innovative applications which require higher speeds than what’s available today, like virtual reality and augmented reality.

5G is set to transform the way we do business. But with 1Gb/s speeds available now over 4G networks we should be jointly focusing on making best use of what the current mobility infrastructure can provide, as well as preparing for the future.

Innovation 2017 is our technology and innovation exhibition, taking place on 12 and 13 June at our global R&D hub Adastral Park.