‘The future is here,” scifi writer William Gibson once said, “it’s just not evenly distributed.”
It’s a line I thought of while travelling through London this week while looking at an advert for 5G on the back of the Evening Standard.
What is 5G?
In a nutshell, it is the new mobile network that predicts hugely ramped-up connection speeds not just for mobile devices but for all internet connections. It is a UK government target to have the country entirely 5G by 2033. We’re behind on broadband so we’ll catch-up through 5G is the plan.
How fast will 5G be?
To download a full HD film, the timelines are:
- More than a day at 3G.
- Seven hours 4G.
- Four to 40 seconds at 5G.
Of course, what you find is often slower than what the poster offers. But even so.
This week, I spent a few hours reading-up on 5G and what it may bring. It’s a mistake to think this is just a quick way to watch movies on your phone. It meant reading through a list of new technologies.
The advent of 5G is predicted to lead to massive changes for how organisations operate. There’s a whole new babble of new technologies that 5G can open up. Reading through them is mildly mind blowing.
What’s the upside for comms?
Marketers will love what the platform can do as it will supercharge many of the things they struggle to do. Internal comms will need to understand it so they can explain what’s coming. Comms people will see how they need to adjust their communications.
This isn’t just a quicker way to download blockbusters. This could change a lot of things.
Video gets bigger. Even bigger
As download speeds increase, video becomes an even more important part of the way people consume content. Especially on mobile devices. The kid on the bus heading home can download a feature film in seconds will do so. They’ll also be able to create and post video even faster, too.
A two speed comms strategy short term
If you live in London and key British cities where there’s a patchwork 5G roll-out then you’ll be fine. Outside of those hotspots people will be disadvantaged until they roll out across the whole of the country by 2033. You’ll also need 5G-enabled phones to make the most of it. Short-term while it is tempting to make lots of lovely video content for new 5G areas and their high speeds there may need to be super-aware of audiences.
But that’s just looking at existing comms.
Virtual reality and augmented reality can happen
I’ve blogged before about virtual reality and how comms can make more of it. With the platform to more easily serve it the ability to stream VR content gets easier and it gets more of a proposition. So does augmented reality.
This will lead to innovation… and internal comms
As 5G evolves, what organisations can do with technology will change. Intelligent automation is a phrase you’ll hear more of. What’s this? This is a blend of automation and artificial intelligence. It is software that replaces tasks but it can apply some thinking to those repetitive tasks. Self driving cars is one use. So is voice recognition. But so is a system to serve marketing based on the user’s previous choices.
All of this is going to need communications to explain it to customers, service users and residents as well as the staff who will be deploying it. It will also make for less members of staff. So, it will be useful for comms people to understand exactly what intelligent automation is.
And an end to big rooms with servers in
5G can allow for cloud computing. Cloud computing can do away with traditional networks. So, the organisation can run without rooms full of servers. It’ll take some time for the public sector to feel comfortable with this approach and some parts won’t ever be cool with it. There is a risk the cloud-stored data will be hacked or stolen. But where the technology exists, the carrot of saving money may be enough to shift some organisations. I’m reading that 5G also leads to mobile edge technology. There’s a limit to what you have to know in detail. To a comms person like me it means less servers in the server room.
Prepare for those cloud computing data breach media queries, comms people.
Marketers will love it
Reading through what’s out there I kept reading about ‘closed loop analytics.’ In plain English, this is the ability to see what your customers did before they made that transaction. There’s a handy Hubspot guide here.
Good news, bad news…. comms people will need to read and get up to speed more
In every day use, comms people are plenty busy as they are. Bad news is that they’ll need to keep abreast of the changes. Good news, is that comms people will be key to explaining and exploiting the 5G changes. DCMS are sponsoring a network to encourage innovation and industry which you can join here.
Comms people will need to think through the business case to upgrade their equipment.
And there’s a danger
Working in and around the public sector for the past 14 years I can see there’s a real mile-wide risk. Predictions for what 5G can bring are bold and imaginative. But is there the funding to transform? Not just in communications but across the organisation? I’m not convinced. I’ve seen too many comms people with dated phones to cope with 4G let alone 5G.
Let’s see, shall we?
Picture credit: istock