How will 5G affect your business website?
5G is on the horizon and there’s a lot of hype in the media. Journalists are calling it a game changer, a technical revolution. They’re talking about how it will galvanise the delivery of things like driverless cars and lead to surgeons being able to carry out operations remotely. But what does this all mean for small to medium-sized businesses?
We find out below.
5G – a bit of background
While it might sound a little bit like the name of a boy band to the uninitiated, the term 5G refers to mobile networks and the next generation of mobile internet connectivity.
The G stands for generation and the five stands for fifth.
Currently, there’s not a country in the world that offers comprehensive nation-wide 5G coverage. Plenty of countries are gearing up for it though.
In May, Qatar’s Ooredoo carrier claimed to have commercially launched 5G Supernet in the capital city of Doha.
At the start of November, The Korean Times ran an article claiming that South Korea’s telecoms companies were expected to launch commercial 5G services using mobile routers rather than smartphones before the end of 2018.
In Sweden, tech giant Ericsson has planned to open a 5G testbed site in partnership with telephone company Telia and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, where the companies can test and develop the potential of 5G networks.
In the USA AT&T has reportedly “successfully completed the world’s first millimeter wave 5G connection over a live network to what will be commercially available standards-based commercial mobile 5G device.”
It plans to launch 5G in Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; Raleigh, North Carolina; and San Antonio, too, before the end of the year.
In the UK, meanwhile, mobile network Three has said it intends to launch its first 5G services in the UK as soon as the middle of next year. EE has said that it will turn on 5G in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester by mid-2019.
Benefits of 5G
Speed – tech experts believe that 5G could be as much as 100 times faster than 4G networks.
Low latency – 5G users will have fewer and shorter delays if any, when using their devices. In 4G networks, latency is typically around 40-50 milliseconds. With 5G it should be 1 millisecond or less.
Cost – the initial outlay involved in setting up 5G infrastructure probably means that accessing the technology will be costly at first. However, in the longer term, Ericsson estimates that 5G networks should enable a 10 times lower cost per gigabyte than 4G networks.
How to prepare your business website for 5G
Although it’s not thought that the majority of the 5G rollout will happen in the UK until 2020, there are a number of ways businesses can start preparing for the change.
In fact, 5G pioneer Ericsson advises “For first movers, 5G unlocks the possibility of increased market share, better customer experience and improved revenue streams.”
One of the main ways businesses can gear their websites up for 5G is by researching and investing in high-performing video content aka 4K video.
It’s possible to produce 4K video yourself. You just need a 4K enabled camera, which are readily available from brands like Panasonic and Sony on the high street. You’ll also need to ensure your computer is up to date enough to be able to handle large file sizes.
If you’re not comfortable creating video in-house then there are plenty of video marketing agencies that produce 4K videos as standard.
Business owners should also start looking into augmented reality (AR) opportunities, especially within their mobile apps. AR uses software to add artificial elements to real-world images in real-time.
So, if you own a shop or a showroom, you can offer your customers an app that allows them to navigate their way around, showing them tags on areas of the store to help them find certain products.
If you own a café you could create an app that allows customers to discover the calorie content or allergy information of every item in your front counter or cake stand.
Hairdressers can create apps that allow customers to see what they might look like with a new hair colour or cur before they decide.
Developing an AR app from scratch doesn’t come cheap. However, as the technology becomes more in demand and the market become more competitive, prices should become more affordable. It’s at least worth thinking about how your company would use an AR app and researching developers.
In addition, some marketers believe that faster website loading speeds will mean that consumers will use fewer ad blockers. With faster speeds and bandwidths, companies will be able to deliver increasingly interactive advertising campaigns to their customers, as well.
Think of the physical advertising billboard created by Reebok that asked high street shoppers to run past their advert and promised the fastest person a free pair of shoes. Or the Timberland mobile advert that gave customers the chance to colour in cartoon video by rapper Nas.
Of course, Reebok and Timberland are brands with massive marketing budgets, but it can’t hurt for businesses to start brainstorming ideas for interactive advertising and research ways of implementing it when the time comes. There’s time to save up a budget.
A word of caution
There are various challenges associated with ensuring your business website keeps up with technology so that it’s ready for 5G when it eventually arrives.
For starters, as with 4G, until 5G is completely comprehensive, there will be areas in the UK where it’s not available at all or spots where 5G connection is not as strong.
This means that, for a considerable amount of time, your website will need to cater to both 4 and 5G customers at the same time. It’s fairly easily done. If you’re offering customers high res videos, make sure they don’t play automatically, for example, and make it clear in the app store that certain features of your app might not run on 4G networks – to manage expectations.