As small business owners, we’ve been hearing a lot about “5G” over the past few years. But in the end, what is it and what’s so great about it? As a small business owner, is it really necessary to upgrade? I’m sure you have similar questions. So here’s what I found.
For starters, 5G is the fifth generation of the standards used for broadband cellular networks. It is the next step up from 4G, which we see on most of our phones and networks. “G” stands for gigahertz, which is the speed of the network. 5G is simply faster than 4G. How much faster? About 100 times faster, according to GSMA, an industry trade group. That means that downloading a high definition film only takes about nine minutes on a 5G network compared to about 50 minutes on a 4G
So what does this mean for the small businesses like yours and mine who adopt 5G technology? In the end, there will be five big benefits.
1 – We will be better prepared to handle the new, post-pandemic online world.
The pandemic has forced many of us to accept what we’ve been resisting: that the cloud is there, it works and it’s productive. Many small businesses have become mobile businesses. Work from home is now a reality. Virtual meetings are the norm. The usage of cloud based customer relationship management, accounting, human resources, communications and collaboration applications has exploded. All of these technologies are moving countless bits of data and are being accessed on a multitude of platforms and over different broadband networks. The faster and more securely this data is received and transmitted, the faster work gets done, wherever employees are. A faster 5G network is the backbone of the transition to virtual and will continue to play an important role in our online journey. Mobile businesses need mobile business broadband. That’s now an undisputed reality.
2 – Customers are buying a LOT more online and they want speed.
According to the AT&T Going Virtual Playbook for small businesses, U.S. Department of Commerce data shows that e-commerce sales were up 30.1 percent in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 and that online spending represented 18.6 percent of total retail sales in the first two quarters of 2020. Clearly, and again thanks to the pandemic, e-commerce is exploding and with it comes expectations. Customers don’t care where the products are coming from or where the work is being done. They’re not interested in how “fast” your network is or how your employees are completing their requests. They just want answers. They want their orders shipped. They want their payments processed. They want their information right away so they can get back to their lives. They expect your systems to be the fastest available. They expect your company to be using the latest technology that maximizes speed and productivity. 5G is the latest and the fastest broadband network. A mobile business requires this type of mobile business broadband.
3 – Our new devices will require more data.
Sure, your employees will have desktop computers. But they will also have laptops, tablets and smartphones. I say “also” because we live in a multi-device world. The typical consumer owns 3.2 connected devices and that number will continue to expand in the coming years as inanimate objects from elevators to manufacturing equipment to the raw materials on your shop floor are tagged with smart labels and tags that make up the world’s “internet of things.” It’s an increasingly big data world and the big data created by this trend will require big networks to move this information around. The smallest of mobile businesses won’t be excluded from this development. Your mobile business will need fast mobile business broadband to support all of the data on all of your company’s devices and “things” if you’re expecting to operate as a 21st century organization. 5G will be critical to this effort.
4 – Our use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) needs more bandwidth to be intelligent.
Just about every major business application has AI built and more is coming. Lots more. Workflows and bots are enabling businesses to carry on conversations with customers, accept payments, ship products, answer questions, place orders and update records…all without human involvement. To do this, complex algorithms must be processed and data must be delivered and received instantaneously over networks. A lag in these processes would undermine the very benefits inherent in AI, and that’s an unacceptable outcome both for software developers and your customers. These algorithms will require
the fastest mobile business broadband services – 5G – in order to do what they’re meant to do as fast as possible.
5 – Our customers’ demand for video cannot be ignored.
According to recent statistics, more than 85 percent of internet users in the U.S. use their devices to watch videos. YouTube alone has more than 2 billion monthly logged in users watching the more than 500-plus hours of content that’s being uploaded every minute. Video is a critical communication form that companies, big and small, rely on to get their messages and marketing to their audiences. To make video work requires a fast, fast network. Latency – the kind of thing that causes videos to pause and blur – has become unacceptable to the consumer. Delays in video communications will reflect poorly on the company making those videos. A fast mobile business broadband network is needed to ensure that
videos are delivered seamlessly to a company’s end users.
The bottom line is that 5G isn’t a choice for businesses like yours and mine. It’s a necessity for any business that plans on growing and succeeding in the next decade. It’s about speed, security, performance and productivity. It’s about profits.
This post was sponsored by AT&T Business, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent
AT&T Business’s positions or strategies.