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Roll on! Businesses set to benefit as 5G looms

Belfast is among the top UK cities to benefit from new 5G technology in 2019, creating new opportunities and efficiencies worth millions to the local economy

There are few certainties in today’s business and economic climate, but there’s one great technological benefit on the way which is set to benefit businesses of all sizes across Northern Ireland, creating new opportunities and efficiency gains not possible before.

With faster speeds, greater capacity, more reliability and flexibility, fifth-generation mobile wireless broadband – or 5G – is coming to Northern Ireland this year and Belfast is among one of the first cities in the UK and Ireland set to benefit.

It is estimated that 5G could be up to 1,000 times faster than the current 4G technology. Peak data speeds could potentially exceed 10Gbps, making it much faster than the highest broadband speeds available today – that would mean that a 1GB file could be downloaded in less than a second.

To underline the significance of the 5G rollout, Mark Evans of O2, one of the two companies to launch this year, said mobile was “one of the UK’s most powerful opportunities to strengthen our economy” and that 5G was a “significant milestone for the nation.” Mobile operator EE is also planning a Belfast rollout in 2019 as part of a limited city grouping to include London, Edinburgh and Birmingham.

The early signs are good. A new report by Barclays Corporate Banking said the introduction of a 5G mobile network could boost Northern Ireland’s economy by up to £238 every year by 2025. However, it also warned that business leaders still didn’t know enough about the benefits of investing in this new technology.

So what will 5G technology mean for your business?

The greater download speeds, reliability and response times of 5G will mean much more than that for many.

At a basic level, from responding to customer queries to communicating with workers on remote access software, fast and reliable communications will increase productivity, profitability and success.

If you operate a business relying on network-related tasks, such as online sales or sharing of documents and files across the cloud, having access to faster internet speeds means your business will get things done quicker.

There are greater, more significant benefits and to come too as the extra speed and capacity drives new levels of innovation across a range of sectors. Industries as diverse as the retail, health-care, manufacturing and creative sectors are expected to lead in adopting 5G technologies

The advanced systems associated with 5G networks are expected to drive forward a new generation of communications and the internet of things, from which businesses will also benefit. Driver-less cars and trucks are just one part of a spectrum of new products, applications and services that are expected to use 5G.

It will also be the medium of choice for new Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) tools capable of enhancing customer experiences and bringing new levels of immediacy to video conferencing and other enterprise communications.

Although we’ve only months to wait to experience 5G for ourselves – and we’ll be among the first in the world to experience it – it’s important now to learn more about what it could do for your business and the changes it will bring.

As network operators, government and big business moves forward with the technology, local business need to make plans to ensure that their current and future technology is able to leverage the 5G benefits and make the most of the opportunities it will bring.

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