Our 5G world is coming together — although we’ve got a long way to go to fully realise its potential. In fact, I doubt whether we have even imagined all its possibilities yet.
But, even allowing for a certain amount of hype, 5G is evolving fast and I believe this year and the next, will see big developments. From network roll outs and increased coverage, to a proliferation of 5G-enabled devices, these developments offer incredible potential for all types of organisations.
I say ‘all organisations’, because it’s easy to fall into the trap of only thinking of the headline use cases. More often than not, we hear how 5G is underpinning the smart factories of Industry 4.0, making autonomous vehicles possible, monitoring assets in real-time and supporting the augmented reality that lets remote experts guide maintenance on the ground. I’ve been talking to a lot of professional services businesses recently, and it’s struck me that they’re a prime example of a sector where 5G could transform so much.
Using 5G to underpin critical collaboration
Professional services companies, like so many organisations, have had to find new ways of working over the past year, moving most of their client contact to virtual channels. The ability to collaborate is crucial if businesses are to build and maintain client trust remotely, and offer the same level of service they did when in-person meetings were possible.
Businesses need to be able to engage with their customers in a natural, productive way and low latency connectivity is essential. We know that any delay of more than about 20 milliseconds really interferes with communication. It becomes obvious, annoying and unworkable – and makes forming collaborative relationships and getting the job done harder.
5G is designed and built to reduce delay, to deliver fluid, reliable connectivity. This makes remote working a better experience, whether it’s helping disparate teams to collaborate, getting new starters trained up, or giving your customer that feeling of being in the same room.
And now it’s looking like these working changes could well be permanent, and so many professional services firms are going virtual, 5G is the logical step to secure effective collaboration.
Taking the initiative with 5G
Businesses don’t need to wait for a widespread 5G network to take advantage of 5G’s benefits; they can be masters of their own destiny by improving the coverage in their indoor environments.
5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) is transforming how many professional services companies deliver the connectivity they need to thrive and collaborate. Essentially, FWA is a new type of ‘plumbing’ that’s quick to install and is a strong alternative to wired broadband connections. In this new age of home working and scattered teams, it’s proving a popular and fast choice for the high download speeds and latency levels essential to remote collaboration; MPLS services that have historically connected businesses can take six months to install, but 5G FWA can be self-installed and up-and-running instantly.
Other organisations are deploying private 5G networks to underpin communication within and between sites, recognising 5G can be a better option than wi-fi, offering dedicated coverage, stability and quality of service. Again, it comes back to protecting the all-important real-time, easy collaboration.
And where private networks aren’t the way to go, professional services companies are using 5G in-building spots to improve coverage in their offices, boosting network performance and capacity. Plus, to make sure both staff and visiting clients can benefit, they’re stipulating that their solutions are multi-carrier capable.
Planning for a 5G future
A collaboration-centric business needs a 5G strategy that flexes. If you’re on the move, working from home or based in the office, different connectivity contexts need different approaches. For example, someone working on a train might use a MiFi hotspot device to tap into the 5G network. But when they get home, they might put the hotspot on the windowsill (where it gets the best coverage) and connect via wi-fi for optimum connectivity.
Now is the ideal time for organisations to work out where their upcoming investment decisions intersect with 5G. A great starting point is to build an ecosystem of partners that can help the enterprise maximise the benefits of 5G. The right combination of technology companies can unlock far more value collectively than if an organisation works with them separately. Many companies are already considering their IT budgets and setting up procurement programmes to upgrade laptops and phones to 5G-enabled models, so when 5G services are ready, nothing will hold their businesses back. Others are also working on bringing 5G to their office and homeworking environments.
Forward-thinking organisations are pushing 5G as far as it can go right now from every angle, and are leading by example, showing their clients what their future could look like.
If you’d like to find out more about the possibilities of 5G, please get in touch with your account manager.