The arrival of 5G this year will mean improved internet connectivity, more robust mobile applications, and new immersive experiences with the potential to change the business landscape for Colorado companies and their customers.
Enhanced mobile speed is just the beginning. 5G will disrupt the marketplace on many levels, and will facilitate new business models and new interactive experiences.
Enabling a remote workforce
The fifth generation of cellular wireless technology represents a major change in which a better wireless interface for smartphones is just the tip of the iceberg. The 5G standard will increase connectivity speeds by about 10 times over current levels. It also offers higher reliability, and — importantly — the ability to connect massive numbers of sensors and smart devices within a network, explains a Deloitte report.
One of the key benefits 5G offers to Colorado companies of all sizes is the ability to use technology to facilitate flexibility for workers. Improved mobile connectivity will, for example, help make video conferencing an industry standard.
The speed and reliability of the new telecommunications standard will facilitate engagement with customers who are located throughout the state. For example, an accounting firm based in Denver will have reliable technology that allows employees to telecommute from anywhere — which will vastly expand their talent pool. No more long drives for those workers, and one less car on the highway during rush hour.
Remote collaboration on steroids is on the horizon, too. Virtual reality, for instance, may become a common feature in online meetings. Today's online meetings are largely one dimensional, featuring talking heads and, maybe, slide presentations. VR will enable members of a remote workforce to attend meetings in a virtual conference room.
Benefits for businesses
In a branded content piece in the Washington Post, AT&T – which has already started to roll-out 5G – highlighted several examples of how the new wireless standard can benefit small businesses, from HVAC companies and micro-breweries to professional service providers and small retailers.
A retail store in Grand Junction, for example, will be able to use 5G to provide simultaneous connectivity for hundreds of customers at a time — without the delays that sometimes occur with today's more limited bandwidth. That will give retail marketers new opportunities to engage with buyers who opt-in for promotions. Stores with loyalty programs, for instance, will have the ability to use 5G-connected sensors to recognize when a customer passes by their storefront. They can then send that person a text message offering them a discount if they come into the store to make a purchase.
That's the power of 5G, and it promises to benefit every business in Colorado. A Colorado-based heating and cooling company with 10 employees, for example, will be able to use 5G connectivity to optimize service calls by tracking the availability of its technicians in the field. What's more, field personnel will be able to use the internet in real-time to identify parts and equipment, and to diagnose problems. Adding to that efficiency, the technician will be able to order replacement parts while he or she is on the job site. That means technology will help improve efficiency and productivity. For a small business, that's going to translate into higher profits.
The rise of 5G also will boost the state's economy by helping Colorado tech companies put artificial intelligence (AI) to work. Colorado has an AI Accelerator program to promote innovation, and AI is playing an increasingly important role in many of the state's leading industry sectors, including aerospace, advanced manufacturing, bioscience, electronics, energy and natural resources, clean-tech, infrastructure engineering, and technology and information.
Hans Vestberg, the CEO of Verizon, calls 5G the “general-purpose technology" of the 21st century. A critical part of being ready for 5G is having a digital roadmap that identifies the software, networking, and security infrastructure a company needs to benefit from this new technology.
“In an era that's all about fast, clear connections — between people and people, between people and devices, and between devices and devices," Vestberg says, “the connective network is the universal enabler, the essential platform."