What 5G means for business

The 5G network will offer revolutionary speed and much more

by Robert Boyanovsky, Vice President of Enterprise Mobility, AT&T Business

People from some of the world’s most influential businesses visit our Executive Briefing Center in Dallas every day. The center is a place for us to showcase our latest innovations.

When I get the chance to talk to these customers, often the conversation quickly turns to 5G. These are the most frequently asked questions:   

  • “When is it coming?"   
  • “How fast is it, really?”

One of the first questions is almost always about speed. No question, 5G will be fast. Ultrafast. We’re already putting that speed on display in our mmWave fixed wireless trials in markets across the U.S.

However, 5G will offer businesses so much more than just faster speeds. One of the biggest tasks my team has now is to educate businesses on all the expected capabilities of 5G – and what those will mean for them. That’s when the light bulb goes on.

Once we start talking to them about their business-specific applications and services, they realize the benefits. 5G will not only allow them to modernize their businesses, but also disrupt their industries.

Experiences of the future

We expect 5G to unlock experiences of the future like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), automated cars, telemedicine and connected buildings in smart cities.

Imagine if firemen could see the layout of the building in their helmets to find those in need much faster. That’s something tomorrow’s 5G could enable. In some cases, it could be truly life-saving. In addition to speed, the following characteristics make the future 5G network special:   

  • Massive device connectivity – We expect it will help handle the Internet of Things (IoT) and manage the “massive IoT” explosion. IDC predicts more than 30 billion devices will be connected to networks globally by 2020.   
  • Ultra-reliability – This is especially helpful for industries that use robotics, like healthcare and manufacturing. A 5G network will be one you can depend on.   
  • Ultra-low latency – Latency is the amount time that passes between when you tell your technology to do something and when it does it. The industry expectation for 5G latency is less than 5 milliseconds. It probably took you about 4,000 times longer to read this sentence.   
  • Better capacity and coverage – More connection points in a smaller area – along with using small cells and unlicensed spectrum – will improve capacity. That means a better customer experience.

Consider what kind of difference these benefits could make. We could know how likely it is for a football player to have a concussion, based on the data from the force of an impact. Or in manufacturing, the capabilities of 5G will save time and money by helping to identify machine defects sooner.

There are so many possibilities. What excites me most are the ones we haven’t yet imagined.

At AT&T, we’re leading the evolution to 5G. We’re always evolving our network and looking forward to what’s next. The work we’re doing on our network today is laying the foundation for 5G tomorrow.