It’s challenging to scroll through your favorite marketing website or daily e-newsletters without coming across the topic of 5G. Many refer to it as one of the next great developments that will impact the marketing and communication world. I, for one, am excited about new technology, and eager to get my hands dirty. So I felt a little investigation was warranted on the actual benefit of this new technology and how it will impact me, our agency and our clients. Here’s what I uncovered…
While you’ll see a “5G” icon near the signal indicator on a few smartphones, the reality is the system as a whole is in its early stages, primarily due to infrastructure and 5G-enabled phone adoption. Regarding infrastructure, it’s not as easy as flipping a switch from 3G/4G to 5G. In fact, as you’ll read below, there is a lot to do, with infrastructure being the tallest hurdle. And when it comes to enabled phones, there are many on the market now, but Ericsson is reporting it won’t be until 2025 that 74% of North America’s phone plans will be 5G enabled.
CONNECTION AND DOWNLOAD LIKE NOTHING BEFORE
As a consumer, the biggest shift in experience will be the connection. Current 4G maxes out at 2 gigabits per second, while 5G maxes out at 20 gigabits per second (10x what you’re experiencing today). Go ahead and say it with me, that’s crazy fast. Access to anything you could ever imagine will be at your fingertips in milliseconds. Operating at its highest performance, downloading a movie via a 5G network will become a breeze. Streaming will be a near perfect experience with no lagging or time-outs of the program. Sharing our clients video content with their audiences will have zero delay.
NO MORE FEELING LIKE AN OUTSIDER
Work today often is loaded with meetings and calls. Fortunately, technology has provided us at Morgan & Co. with tools that keep us very connected with clients, especially those across the U.S., and we can do so without spending hours in an airport. Our routine communication through conference call systems, video conferencing like Skype and even screensharing via join.me, has dramatically changed how we conduct meetings.
The challenge with these platforms has always been connection speeds and bandwidth. Shifting through slides on a screenshare drags for everyone. Annoying delay on that media strategy group conference call causes everyone to speak at the same time.
Well, say goodbye to all that. With near zero latency (the delay between sending and receive between devices), 5G communication is far superior. Back to milliseconds. Peak 5G is expected to have almost real time information exchange, with 1 millisecond of lag. 1 millisecond! Imagine your conference call, video call or screenshare with that level of latency.
INFRASTRUCTURE ISN’T THERE (YET)
Now the not-so-good news. This futuristic world of lighting fast downloads and no-lag video calls is not here yet (but it’s coming). Picking up on the comment above, the biggest challenge is infrastructure. 5G is a different technology, requiring a new backbone of equipment for the carriers and network. Arguably the most challenging is the current cell tower. 3G and 4G have a significant reach, however, 5G has as little as a few hundred meters in reach, requiring smaller cells. Therefore, a new tower needs to be built every few hundred meters (or every few blocks). If you haven’t already, expect to see them going up everywhere – down the street, around the corner. Because of this limit in reach, you won’t be able to miss the pervasive new towers as cities and carriers are scrambling to build as many as possible to get the network up.
The infrastructure buildout will result in major cities being the first to benefit from 5G. So depending on where you live, you might be stuck in the slower lane for a little longer. But let’s be honest, life today with 3G/4G hasn’t been all that bad.
BUCKLE UP FOR THE NEW MONTHLY BILL
Like any shiny new object you just can’t live without, expect to take a hit in the wallet. Even though costs have yet to be discussed, I promise you the providers will get you somewhere, somehow. Through the equipment and the actual monthly service. And this goes for both your smart phone and any 5G service you subscribe to at your house. Additionally, your business may need to purchase 5G hardware to be ready when there is a full-scale launch to this new tech, and potentially invest in professional education to understand its full capabilities.
ADAPT TO NEW TOOLS
While 5G tech will help businesses become more efficient, lead to breakthroughs, and cut cost in the long run, there are measures to consider while prepping for this new innovation. When looking at your 1-year or 5-year marketing plans, keep this new wave of tech in mind. You’ll have the opportunity to collect data at a faster pace with the growth of automation run on 5G. So what new data from your customers will be available with this new tech? Inquire with your ad agencies to ensure they’re with early adapters to stay competitive.
Because things like 5G impact how people communicate, share information and are influenced, we at Morgan & Co. look to ways this type of technology can benefit brands and their marketing efforts, and we’re thrilled for this game-changer. As a media agency, we leverage technology, use advanced audience insight and media strategy to capitalize on those systems for the benefit of our clients. If you manage a brand that is lacking this type of thinking in its media efforts, reach out to us. We’d love to help.