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4 practical benefits of 5G for small businesses

Alongside ‘AI’ and ‘machine learning’, 5G has become one of the tech sector’s hot topics in the past two years. There’s been a huge amount of excitement around the technological capability of this next generation mobile network, and for good reason: faster, more reliable and higher bandwidth mobile connectivity could unlock new levels of productivity, flexibility and opportunity for small businesses. What’s more, with our 5G coverage now available in over 450 towns and cities across the UK[1], now’s the perfect time to take a look at some of the practical benefits this technology can offer small businesses.

1.    5G will empower even more flexible working

The ability to be flexible has never been more important, particularly in light of the current shift towards more permanent hybrid working models. Small businesses have had to rapidly adapt to significant changes, whether that’s helping team members make remote working a long term success, or collaborating effectively with clients who now prefer video calls to in-person meetings. When it’s no longer possible to only rely on home, on-premise or office broadband, 5G can provide a fast and reliable connection that businesses can use just about anywhere. Need to share an important file or presentation? A 5G connection will let you do that in seconds. Got an important video call to make? 5G will ensure a crisp, high-quality connection, even when you’re on the go. Being able to get more done with a mobile connection means that you and your team aren’t tied to an office, but are free to work wherever and whenever suits you.

The benefit in one sentence: Faster, more reliable 5G mobile connections means you and your team can work flexibly and still stay super productive.

2.    5G can transform customer experience

The way customers interact with businesses is changing rapidly, accelerated partly by the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, 74% of UK shoppers have said they will continue to prioritise online shopping over high street stores, pushing retail businesses to improve their ecommerce experience[2]. An increasing majority of consumers now expect a near-seamless digital experience, even when interacting with smaller businesses. This means everything from being able to order online and collect in store, getting live updates on stock levels and submitted orders, right down to using contactless payment at cafes and pop-up food stands. All of these digital processes require a fast, reliable connection to provide a great customer experience, which is exactly what 5G offers.

The benefit in one sentence: 5G networks allow small businesses to join up the dots with their customer experience, both online and offline.

3.    New technology is made accessible through 5G

In itself, 5G might not seem like a spectacular new technology – after all, it’s more of an upgrade to existing mobile networks, rather than a brand-new idea. However, this faster, higher bandwidth network has the potential to make lots of other new technologies far more accessible to small businesses. An interesting practical example of this is augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR). Without getting too technical, one of the big barriers to the widespread adoption of these technologies is having access to a network connection that’s both superfast and offers extremely low latency, allowing VR and AR content to be delivered to users seamlessly. This kind of connection is exactly what 5G offers, making it a key piece of the puzzle for organisations looking to accelerate the adoption of AR and VR technology. With tech giants like Apple already teasing AR glasses  and selling AR ready devices, small businesses should be thinking about the possibility of creating and promoting AR led content in the not too distant future!

The benefit in one sentence: AR and VR technology could become far more accessible to small businesses, thanks to 5G.

4.    A world of opportunity through 5G

At the top of this article, we promised 4 practical benefits of 5G to small businesses. The slight problem with this is that as a relatively new technology, no one has really explored the absolute limitations of 5G, or what might be possible as it becomes even more widely available. However, we can point to some of the inventive, ground-breaking ways 5G is already being used by businesses across the world. From automating farming processes, to the usage of drones and autonomous vehicles, even pioneering remote surgery, there are thousands of ideas built on the connection benefits that 5G can provide. For many small businesses, 5G is still full of untapped potential, but as it becomes more accessible, we’re certain to see new opportunities and innovations open up for small businesses right across the UK.

The benefit in one sentence: 5G is already transforming automation, logistics and connectivity across the globe, and looks set to do the same for small businesses in the UK.

[1] O2’s 5G network is available in 450 towns and cities across the UK. In these areas, there is over 50% 5G population coverage.

[2] ‘74% of European shoppers have no intention of scaling back online shopping, study finds’ Internet Retailing, 16,06.2021, https://internetretailing.net/payment/74-of-european-shoppers-have-no-intention-of-scaling-back-online-shopping-study-finds



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