5G has officially arrived in the UK. With O2 switching its faster mobile data network on earlier this month, it means all four of the UK’s major operators now offer 5G services to a greater or lesser extent, with the technology expected to roll out quickly to towns and cities across the country in the coming months.

But what will this upgrade actually offer to users? Many people may assume that the move to 5G will be similar to the transition from 3G to 4G, where the focus was on the speed upgrade that could be achieved.

However, with 5G, the speed boost is just one of the many advantages that the technology will bring to the table. Indeed, for many enterprises, it may not even be among the most important benefits of 5G.

Better speeds just the start

It’s certainly true that 5G will offer a much faster mobile browsing experience for users. At launch, speeds for the technology are slated to be at least ten times faster than those currently offered by 4G services, but the technology could potentially offer download speeds of up to 10Gbps or more in the coming years.

However, this is just the start of the benefits. Another major upgrade for 5G over 4G is the capacity it offers, which means it can allow many more people to connect to the network simultaneously without their speeds being impacted.

Limited capacity is one of the biggest drawbacks of 4G at the moment, and will certainly have been felt by anyone who’s tried to use mobile data services in crowded locations, such as busy transport hubs or sports and entertainment venues. That’s why O2, for example, is focusing its initial 5G deployments on these areas, with busy places like Waterloo station and Twickenham stadium among the first to get the technology.

The third major benefit of 5G will be the reduced latency it offers. This may not be as immediately obvious to everyday users as the speed and capacity upgrades, but for enterprise users looking to transform their mobile operations, it could be the difference between success and failure by enabling a range of real-time capabilities.

The opportunity for businesses

Speaking at the launch of O2’s 5G network earlier this month, chief executive of Telefonica UK Mark Evans said 5G is set to “revolutionise” how both people and businesses use connectivity, and unlock “huge possibilities for our economy and society”.

One of the biggest opportunities for businesses as a result of the introduction of 5G will be the ability to access more data in real time, no matter where users are. The benefits of this can take many forms. 

For example, many businesses may use 5G-connected sensors to monitor critical equipment. This can let them conduct predictive maintenance by identifying telltale signs that failure is imminent, or spot any inefficiencies that are hampering productivity.

Elsewhere, the low latency will allow for real-time communication and control of everything from factory robots to connected cars, while the healthcare sector may benefit from the ability to monitor patients remotely and consult via telemedicine, saving both time and money.

The possibilities for 5G are endless, but the technology is still in its relative infancy. Therefore, we can expect the next few months and years to be a process of testing and innovation for many firms, as they get to grips with the capabilities offered by the technology and how its benefits can be applied to their unique requirements.

Whether it’s workers connecting more easily to advanced mobile solutions on their morning commute or industrial sensors monitoring key equipment, 5G is poised to transform how almost every firm does business, and as its availability becomes more widespread, companies will need to investigate what it can do for them quickly to avoid falling behind.

Find out more about what 5G can offer and how it can revolutionise enterprise mobility in our new white paper.

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