What 5G Means for Communications

— Laura Gillen, Head of Technology & DXT, UK 

It’s likely you’ve heard about 5G, and if you’ve been reading any MWC coverage from the past week, you’ll see it’s been THE topic of conversation - with many big announcements reporting that it’s finally here (after  years of it apparently being “just around the corner”).

As someone who  has been working in telco and tech communications for the past 12 years, I’m no stranger to talk of faster and faster speeds and feeds. I actually remember (circa 2006) being in an all-agency PR meeting with a very big operator trying to work out why on earth consumers would ever really need super-fast broadband. Now, the prospect of us not having it is like announcing that Starbucks is out of coffee, or that a certain chicken shop has run out of chicken (surely an unthinkable impossibility)…

We actually saw 5G in action at the Winter Olympics last month, where the technology was used to ward off the “porcine pests” from the local mountainous region with fast-acting systems that shoot rays and emit tiger roars. Connected shuttle buses also ran with no humans at the wheel, and 360-degree real-time images showed competing figure skaters as they glided around the ice. Pretty diverse use cases.



Ultimately though, 5G is all about speed – it will be about 100 times faster than 4G. In its fullest form, 5G can stream a feature-length HD movie in seconds. More importantly, it is also paving the way for a more connected life, where devices from refrigerators to traffic lights and dog collars will talk to each other.

I, for one, am fascinated to see where 5G will go; how I will use it as part of my daily and working life and what it will enable me to do as a communicator.

If I look back to that world of 2006, I didn’t even have a laptop, and only talked to clients on a landline or via pretty slow emails (on a desktop computer that crashed a lot). Now I can talk to clients in real-time on WhatsApp and Slack, which is speeding things up and making it so much easier to build relationships in my view (there’s often time for lots of joking and gifs!). But, what’s next?



Faster speeds will mean another shake up in how we do comms. Again, looking back to 2006, I didn’t even have a Facebook account, let alone a smartphone, and nearly all the coverage I secured for clients was in print. Now thanks to the speed of technology, we run so much of our comms activity online, from sending out campaigns on social channels to targeted audiences, to bringing things to life via virtual reality, and having the ability to reach really niche spaces through blogs or new IPTV channels.

So, when we think ahead to the next 12 years, what else could we be doing thanks to this initial development of 5G? Will we have virtual colleagues, borderless offices, robot journalists, or dare I say it (finally) a wireless workplace? The possibilities are endless.  Not sure about you, but I’m excited!