Those old enough to remember the switch from 3G to 4G should know that with the emergence of 5G technology, mobile networking is about to feel a whole lot faster. According to Business Insider, 5G has already reached speeds of up to 500 megabytes per second, which is a tremendous increase from the average 6.5 megabytes per second internet speed in 2016. The difference between 4G and 5G is similar to that of a wheelbarrow relay and a drag race.
5G Really Is That Good
5G's immense speed increase will affect the nearly 4 billion worldwide mobile internet users, according to Statista. But speed isn't the only benefit it brings. CNBC notes that 5G technology also represents the first time a mobile data solution truly offers the scale and bandwidth needed to serve as a viable replacement for home/business broadband, generally served over ethernet. No more sharing a single 4G modem among a household of five users. 5G allows multiple users to stream 4K media on a single connection, CNBC reports. That's a mind-blowing improvement.
Of course, home use is only half the story. Business matters just as much or more, especially where remote workers — a growing class of professionals that includes everyone from mobile sales reps to work-from-home employees to flex workers — are involved. Companies with an increasing number of remote workers should understand that 5G is unequivocally worth the legwork.
Gone are the days when tech parity meant comping a 4G modem for sales reps; 5G allows work-from-home personnel the same performance as field-based traveling reps and standard office dwellers.
5G: Giving Remote Work an Upgrade
The best way to understand 5G's transformative value is by looking at the role its precursor, 4G, has played in remote work. 4G has allowed us to make video calls and transfer data pretty quickly, but it's also been a stopgap. In short, it's been good enough but not great. Ask a remote sales professional whether they'll take a dedicated broadband pipe or a dedicated 4G modem for teleconferences with their most important client, and the wireline wins out every time.
Not so with 5G. 5G is equipped to supplant the physical connection superiority of old — and all of the baggage that comes with it. A remote employee will no longer have to wire up to the business's apps or deal with 4G delays in connectivity. When the organization moves its app to a cloud-based, cellular data distribution model, it only needs 5G technology availability and an inexpensive modem to get cooking. When that employee needs to tap into a video conference, they'll be glad they have 5G to carry crystal-clear voice and video.
These remote work capabilities alone make 5G technology a huge upgrade for most businesses.
5G's Business Value
5G affects remote work capabilities — and the overall business — in several other ways, including:
- Providing better performance without the price tag: 5G pricing plans aren't that much more expensive than 4G — and the paltry $10-$20 increase many carriers pose still represents a significant savings over wireline technologies. When the network enables efficient remote work, the business saves even more.
- Enabling cloud: Cloud is a tech monolith on its own, but certain use cases — video conference apps and transferring files via a proprietary app, for two examples — don't get along well with 4G's rather narrow upstream. 5G, meanwhile, effectively allows true cloud to flourish anywhere, making remote collaboration simple.
- Empowering flexibility: The more data a mobile network can carry, the more control a business has over its remote work options. Gone are the days when tech parity meant comping a 4G modem for sales reps; 5G allows work-from-home personnel the same performance as field-based traveling reps and standard office dwellers.
The Momentum Is Only Building
Some of 5G's critics point to limited market availability and selection of compatible devices as the biggest setbacks of the tech. But these are natural features of a new network rollout that will vanish as the tech reaches maturity. The fact that 5G's coverage distance is often less than 4G's, due to the way network frequencies work, might be a bigger problem.
Even so, a technology that comes with as much hype as 5G is rare. With organizations in some markets already adopting the technology, it's about time for businesses elsewhere to know what's coming — chances to get a leg up on the competition like this don't come often.