If you follow technology at all, you've probably heard rumblings of 5G wireless—a faster, more powerful wireless Internet connection that will change the way today's technologies perform, from drones and autonomous vehicles to gesture control and wearable enhanced reality office communications. But how long before Canadian businesses see 5G? And how will you be able to best leverage its capabilities to increase efficiency and enhance the productivity of your business initiatives?
What is 5G?
Before we delve into a discussion of the enhanced capabilities of a 5G network, it's important to understand what it is. 5G is the next generation of wireless, following LTE and 4G networks.
Unlike LTE and 4G, however, 5G will surpass wireless broadband networks in both speed and reliability. Someday, instead of running fiber optic or coaxial network lines and using routers to deliver WiFi, businesses could connect to a 5G wireless network for internet-based communications, from surfing the Web and streaming video to videoconferencing and operating IoT devices.
You can also receive 5G connectivity through a router. Internet providers in the U.S., where 5G for all is even closer to reality, are delivering 5G through routers. Instead of connecting a wireless device to WiFi, it's connected to the 5G network. The result is download speeds close to 300 Mbps and peak speeds up to 1 Gbps. According to experts, 5G is 30 to 50 times faster than home broadband.1
How soon will Canadian business owners see 5G?
5G mobile networks should start to appear in Canada by 2021, according to experts.2 But it won't happen all at once. Just as 4G slowly replaced LTE, 5G will roll out in major cities like Vancouver first. The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) predicts an estimated 16 million 5G connections by 2026.3
5G in Canadian offices
The average business owner may embrace 5G to bring video conferences to life with 4K resolution and no concerns of buffering. Product development can take place in augmented or virtual reality environments (AR/VR), even with teams that span the country. In the high-tech sector, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will run smoothly and seamlessly.
Consider ways you can use AI to complete tedious tasks, such as sorting big data or continuous monitoring. Use a combination of video and AI to create a two-way, constant and continuous dialogue with your customers. Or, harness it to serve more relevant mobile ads to consumers faster and improve conversions when people are ready to buy.
5G: Embrace the possibilities
While 5G will streamline communications in Canada's office buildings, perhaps its greatest strength lies in mobile applications that can't easily rely on WiFi. Farmers who already use drones in Manitoba and Saskatchewan farms will be able to use remote sensors to collect more precise data in real-time, transmit the data to an AI network for analysis and make accurate decisions based on soil density, temperature, water requirements, and more.
Wearables for oil and gas field workers in Alberta, as well as truckers and other high-intensity professions across the nation, could detect worker fatigue reliably, resulting in a safer, more productive work environment.4 Wearables powered by 5G could also have virtually endless applications in healthcare, where physicians may be able to diagnose and treat illness in real-time from a distance and caregivers for older adults can provide continuous monitoring and rapid care as needed.
What can Canadian small businesses do to prepare for 5G?
When it happens, you shouldn't expect to eliminate your broadband WiFi immediately. Speak to your IT department and your telecommunications provider to explore the possibilities and potential costs.
Since rolling out 5G won't require major infrastructure updates, you won't need to prepare your office in any physical way. 5G networks can be set up in hours, rather than weeks. However, fully embracing 5G will require a shift in mindset. Internet connection speeds and bandwidth will no longer be a limiting factor in technology use. Instead, businesses can begin thinking about what they need technology to accomplish; the capabilities will be there.
With an innovative outlook, there will be few limits to what you can achieve with 5G to increase productivity and profitability.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.