Earlier this month Vodafone UK, Ericcson, and Kings College partnered to conduct a 5G test in Central London. This was the first test of 5G where it didn’t rely on an existing 4G network, and the successful test paves the way for 5G networks to be rolled out throughout the UK. This new development will give the UK access to 5G technologies that will allow data to be sent and received more efficiently in densely populated areas. While this is a huge success for the industry in the UK, it will be a long time before independent 5G networks can be established.
This news of 5G testing overseas prompted the question: Is an upgrade to 5G networks worth it for businesses? The benefits of 5G are big, powering the IoT and adding a level of efficiency that is unprecedented. However, that level of efficiency comes with an astronomical price-tag. Manufacturers and software developers could have to spend up to $200 billion a year while this technology is still new to support research and network planning. On top of that, experts predict it could be hard to capitalize on the investment of 5G networks, as the wireless industry in developed countries like the U.S. is already fairly saturated and finding new users right away will be difficult.
Despite these challenges, the way the consumer technology market is moving is making 5G the more popular choice. As we move further into the development of IoT, demand for 5G will grow and telecom providers will move to fill it. As 5G increases the amount of data available to businesses, and cuts down the time that data is in transit, it is likely that businesses (particularly businesses that are heavily reliant on the internet) will soon look to move to a 5G plan. Businesses that want to move to a 5G plan will have to consider how they are going to redesign their digital infrastructure. As providers rush to invest in 5G infrastructure to make it available for business consumers looking to take advantage of those services will need help deciding which providers to go with and how they will organize their own infrastructure to support the usage of their new networks.
It is important to note that the cost of moving to a 5G network should be weighed heavily against its benefits. With all of the money being invested in the race to develop networks to support 5G, the reflected price to customers is likely to remain high for the foreseeable future. 5G is also tending to operate on a smaller hardware network (fewer huge wireless towers, more smaller transmitters on top of buildings) than previous generations, because its transmission is particularly vulnerable to the elements. While this won’t affect certain areas of the country, it might be an important consideration for consumers in areas where the weather varies and makes them vulnerable to outages or interruptions before the technology is perfect. At the end of the day, the move to 5G for businesses will probably be led by companies looking to capitalize heavily on IoT, as they will be able to justify the cost for the benefits that a 5G network can offer them.