By Damian Hanson, Co-Founder & Director of CircleLoop
The rollout of 5G is well underway and is promising big changes to connectivity. The fifth generation of mobile internet technology is designed to increase speed and reduce latency for all, and savvy businesses are jumping on the potential of this technology to reap the benefits in the near future.
Businesses are already partnering with telecom firms to develop commercial private 5G networks for the UK market, so what opportunities and challenges will present themselves once a widespread rollout begins?
According to research from national innovation network UK5G, 7 out of 10 UK businesses are already using or planning to deploy 5G to deliver a competitive advantage. This suggests that, despite 5G technology still being in its infancy, the huge potential of 5G in business has already been noted. Not having to work with an operator to ensure optimum connectivity is hugely appealing to business leaders.
Could this mean WiFi has finally met its match? Absolutely. Private 5G can offer businesses far greater control of how they manage and distribute their networks than WiFi can. The connectivity is more flexible and security policies are able to be designed and managed internally, allowing businesses to customise their network to how they want it.
But while Wi-Fi might finally have some competition, it’s still unlikely that the emergence of private 5G networks will replace wired connectivity for businesses. I believe this will always be the backbone of reliable communication in the UK, particularly with the amount of investment put towards it over the years.
Wired connectivity isn’t going anywhere, but private 5G networks will undoubtedly have an edge on WiFi. Businesses that have never truly felt their WiFi was providing them with exactly what they needed have an opportunity to look elsewhere, and 5G networks might be the solution.
The pros and cons for businesses
Private 5G networks will be particularly useful for businesses that don’t work from a dedicated office or that are based in remote locations or environments such as warehouses, factories, or larger sites where security and ultra-low latency connectivity are crucial.
A business that usually runs analytics, communications and IoT will need 5G to meet the high demands of data-hungry services and applications. Unified communications such as voice calling, chat, video and screen sharing will likely make great leaps in performance improvements thanks to 5G usage.
SMEs looking to improve their internet connectivity with 5G should also consider improving their business communication by transitioning to a cloud-based phone system. The benefits of 5G align perfectly with the requirements of cloud-based services and greatly improve their performance. Investing in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a flexible and cost-effective alternative to traditional phone systems that rely on a landline and will be ideal for those considering the switch to a private 5G network in the future.
Despite the numerous benefits on offer for SMEs adopting private 5G networks, there are of course risks for businesses to consider. When wider implementation of these networks gets underway, it will be essential for businesses to have the best security systems to ward off cyber criminals looking to take advantage. Firewalls, VPNs, malware software and more should all be in place and sufficient training in 5G technology will be required for technical staff.
Is your business ready for the 5G revolution?
TECHnalysis Research reported that 78% of respondents planning to deploy a private 5G network said they would like to partner with telcos. This is second to the 81% of respondents that said they would like to partner with cloud computing providers.
The data certainly suggests future partnerships are a way forward to get ahead in this space. Working with a tech-savvy partner that can provide the right advice and guidance on implementation will be important for businesses looking to leverage the benefits of 5G.
With 5G connections predicted to surpass 1 billion in 2022 and 2 billion by 2025, there’s a massive opportunity for business growth, especially for those early-adopters of private 5G networks.
A new era is dawning and as 5G advances, many businesses are getting ahead of the curve and investing heavily in this new technology. The question is; how ready is your company for the 5G revolution?
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