The arrival of 5G in the UK offers the promise of completely transforming how businesses and consumers in the country interact with mobile services and the internet of things. Far from simply providing a speed increase over existing 4G mobile data services, the improved capacity and latency of 5G are set to open up a wide range of new opportunities and business mobiles contracts.

But what will this look like in action? While 5G is still a very new technology and users are exploring the possibilities it can bring, there are already a range of key applications for the technology that many businesses in the UK stand to benefit from.

Here are five ways in which 5G could change how companies do business

Real-time information

A key feature of 5G is its low latency – around 1ms compared with up to 70ms for current 4G services. This may not sound like a lot to the average consumer, but for businesses, the improvement could be critical. 

Lower latency should enable the use of 5G to support truly real-time services – from smoother real-time gaming for consumers to controlling autonomous drones and even self-driving cars, where even a fraction of a second delay between a command being given and it being carried out can be disastrous.

Supporting IoT – Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is another area that stands to benefit greatly from 5G. As well as the fact low latency allows for remote operation of tools like industrial robots. Its capacity can also support a huge number of IoT devices such as environmental sensors, security systems and smart energy meters.

This could be hugely useful in manufacturing, for instance, in helping spot potential maintenance issues before they arise. Meanwhile, it can also help control smart buildings that can automatically adjust HVAC systems, turn off lights and send back detailed information to utility providers about periods of high and low demand. All of this can only be made possible with high-capacity, real-time 5G services.

Enabling AR/VR

Augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) have been much-hyped technologies for years, but many people consider their applications to be primarily entertainment based, whether its Pokemon Go or virtual reality headsets for games consoles. However, there are also many enterprise applications for this technology, and these will often depend on 5G to be successful, because of the large amounts of data required. 

One way in which AR could prove hugely useful is by enabling field workers to access crucial information while they work, without the need to refer back to written manuals or download information at the start of the day. AR-enabled, 5G mobile devices or wearables could also be used for training or to help visualise new designs before they become reality.

Flexible and remote working

The speed of 5G can also transform how businesses handle flexible and remote working. As well as making it much easier to keep up and interact with critical business applications wherever a user is, it can enable much smoother, more reliable video conferencing, for example, that ensures a lag-free experience wherever a person is located. Because of its high capacity issues, there will also be no slowdown in crowded locations, such as railway stations, which could be useful for commuters.

Supporting fixed services

In many places, the speed delivered by 5G could be significantly higher than what is available for fixed-line services, or be much easier to implement, which could make it highly useful for augmenting or even fully replacing fixed-line broadband connections where it could provide a faster, more reliable service.

Deploying 5G routers could also be highly useful for less permanent working environments, such as construction sites, for example, or where it would be too costly or time-consuming to run cables. At the moment, the 4G options for such environments are limited in their speed and capacity, and may often have restrictions on how much data they can use; 5G alternatives will remove these drawbacks.

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