You would be forgiven for thinking 5G is just another wireless mobile technology. We all experienced the introduction of 3G and then 4G, and while these delivered improved coverage and speed, their impact fell short of being revolutionary. While data-loving users might argue the difference between the way they use their mobiles now and 10 years ago is tremendous, the truth is, it’s been a steady road to glitch-free usage.

5G tells a different story. Anticipation across the technology sector is building and expectations are high. Quite rightly so – if it delivers everything that is promised, we’re looking at the introduction of truly transformative technology.

Theoretically, 5G can support up to one million devices per square kilometre – 4G can support 4,000 – and its potential capabilities are endless.

Want to see how an outfit will look, without trying it on? 5G and real-time AR technology can make that possible. Stuck in traffic? 5G sensors can manipulate lights to reduce congestion. Ever struggled to get a signal at a large-scale event? With a 100-fold increase to traffic capacity, that could soon be a problem of the past. You could even stream HD holographic live concerts directly from your living room.

Whether a business owner, or a consumer, we’re talking about having technology at our fingertips which will have a huge impact on our behaviour and the decisions we make.

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But, take a step back for a moment. How much do we truly know about 5G and the opportunities it presents? For those of us immersed in the technology sector or abreast with development, we may think it’s a fair bit, but for many businesses and consumers 5G is still just a buzzword.

How will 5G benefit me?

With 2020 earmarked as the year 5G’s potential is fully realised, the question a lot of people will be asking is: how will 5G benefit me? And, while online guides and printed collateral may well summarise the benefits, research has shown that the best way to engage audiences around new tech is to take a ‘hands on’ approach.

A technology of this scale has to inspire its users. If consumers and businesses are to fully embrace 5G and its capabilities, they need first-hand experience of just how much it can do. For network providers, this marks a massive opportunity to not only attract new customers but maintain and future proof their current base.

The business

Take business customers as a starting point. Creating an immersive smart factory experience for industry professionals could truly bring to life 5G’s capabilities – demonstrating how it can open up new revenue streams and technologies such as automation, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT). In reality, this could showcase the instant reactions of production machinery if something goes wrong elsewhere in the process or demonstrate how to use augmented reality headsets for troubleshooting.

‘In-situ’ live demonstrations could work for the more traditional office businesses too. With flexible working and the need to work from just about anywhere increasingly important, demonstrating 5G’s download speeds and communication response time is a no brainer. Take a leap further and there’s even scope to show how virtual reality could be used to host a board meeting with avatars that can appear in a conference room anywhere in the world!

The consumer

Consider the consumer market, and network providers can get really creative. Why not target consumers at some of the UK’s largest festivals? As notoriously difficult locations to get signal, there will be huge appetite from eventgoers to experience uninterrupted usage. From 5G ‘hubs’ which allow people to send and receive messages instantly, to a virtual reality live streaming experience to demonstrate the transformational shift that is coming for social media, there’s an opportunity to bring engaging 5G experiences direct to existing and potential customers.

The ‘smart home’ is a prime example where brands have already taken the approach of bringing live educative experiences direct to consumers. You can see how this could be built on to demonstrate how smart homes will evolve with the introduction of 5G – whether it’s the capacity to connect to a greater number of home smart devices on the go, or to actually achieve a fully IoT-integrated living space.

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The time is now

With the 5G rollout already underway in towns and cities across the UK, there’s a real need to educate the market so it doesn’t become a missed opportunity. The key thing here is giving business leaders and consumers alike the opportunity to step away from their day and immerse themselves in a true 5G experience. For network providers looking to capitalise on all that 5G has to offer, it would be a miss not to invest time in truly engaging the wider public.


Read more: Ericsson: We’re beating Huawei on 5G deployment