2G, 3G and 4G: many of you will have lived through the proclamation of each of these mobile revolutions. Yet for every problem each has aimed to solve, more seem to have been created. As the capabilities of phones have improved, the growing demand for mobile data and coverage has always outpaced networks’ ability to cope with it. So why will 5G be any different?
With the emphasis shifting more and more to phones and mobile computing, businesses are increasingly operating on the go. In countries where the static broadband infrastructure lags well behind, delivering high-speed internet looks set to fall to mobile. The unique capabilities of 5G are set to fulfil the promise of superfast speeds for everyone – and open new doors in the process.
Broadband speeds are patchy enough in highly developed Western countries, with a quarter of UK businesses lacking a stable internet connection. But when expanding your business abroad, the geography and infrastructure may mean that connections are significantly worse, not to mention more expensive.
Whether you’re communicating with or from these locations, the inability to hold stable video conservations or internet calls can be extremely disruptive. Slow and unreliable connections can cause large, complex file downloads to fail, making it difficult to liaise with freelancers, receive tender documents, or access cloud based data and assets.
One of the great advantages of mobile internet is that it can cover large areas far more easily than cable, which requires extensive (and expensive) roadworks. 5G towers could supercede fibre optic cables as the premier method of getting online, especially as trends continue to shift towards phones and away from static computers. The proliferation of phones around the world has already driven fast adoption of 4G, and 5G has even more reasons to succeed.
Not only is it significantly faster – perhaps as much as 1 Gigabyte per second – the precision and speed offered are also necessary for things like driverless cars. With countries such as India and China boasting world leading engineers, and with some notorious traffic issues, driverless cars could take hold in these locations well before the United States and Europe.
Sales and investment
Whether it’s physical or digital goods, international and online sales are now a core part of most businesses. Online storefronts have to be managed, and often now require the uploading of high resolution product photos and supporting videos.
Customers meanwhile will require support from all corners of the globe, with many businesses using Skype to reduce international phone costs. Deals with stores and suppliers are also more likely than ever to be conducted with digital technology, including internet calls, email and messaging apps. This requires not only fast and reliable internet, but a degree of location independence, with access out of the office being equally important.
Investment in your business can be affected, too. This is not only an issue of communication, but pragmatism: investors will want to know that your internet infrastructure is reliable, as this is such a core element of any modern business. This is particularly important for businesses in the UK, for instance, where international business and communications will be a crucial element of the UK’s roadmap going forward.
Productivity and possibilities
Research in the UK by YouGov/Virgin indicates that slow connections cause small business employees to lose an average of 15 minutes each day, with more than a third convinced that better internet would promote faster growth. Meanwhile, an average yearly internet outage of three days is thought to cost UK businesses £7 billion ($9.2bn).
On a simple level then, faster and more reliable internet saves time spent loading media-heavy web pages and downloading vital files, all tasks 5G is well suited to. But the 5G rollout itself also offers opportunities to start new businesses, particularly in those countries that have less native expertise and experience with online infrastructure.
In the UK for instance, £1bn is currently being invested in 5G and fibre rollout, with £400 million dedicated to assisting smaller internet providers. New ‘fibre to the premises’ projects will also be exempt from business rates tax for five years, making it cheaper to receive high speed broadband, and making it easier to place local 5G antennae for ‘Internet of Things’ devices.
The global 5G rollout will enable all sorts of business opportunities, too. Technologies like the IoT, driverless cars and virtual reality are currently waiting in the wings, having been held back by the lack of instantaneous and fast file transfer. 5G provides this, and should dramatically accelerate work in this field, making these ideas far more palatable to global consumers.
Part of the culture that startups have benefitted from over the last decade or so is the ability to work flexibly. The provision of ‘work from home’ days, allowing time to take deliveries or attend appointments, and allowing employees to work from coffee shops is now a common (and fiercely defended) perk.
It has practical benefits too. More than a third of surveyed employees said that flexible working was essential to their work life balance, while 44% were convinced that it allowed them to get more work done. With a more competitive jobs market also come longer commutes, something that ‘telecommuting’ can cut out entirely, freeing up more of the day for work and pleasure. feeling more relaxed and more productive when they are afforded a better work-life balance.
5G internet offers the benefits of a fibre business line wherever you are, making this even more palatable. Employers can use the presence of fast internet anywhere to strike a flexible working balance that suits them, dividing time between the office and, well, anywhere else. Moreover, the ability to offer home working as a perk can improve employee retention, giving your newly expanded business an edge in attracting the best talent.
This guest posts is courtesy of Heather Landau. Open A European Company.com founder Heather Landau has honed her skills in service advisory from the pragmatic to the practical. With 25 years experience in international business expansion and development, Heather is a leading voice on company formation across the US and Europe, and operates similar services around the world.