The digital revolution is driving profound change in our world, as innovation and technological advances are transforming the way we live, work and do business. Now we will need to add the benefits of 5G wireless technology into our website and digital marketing strategies.
In 2018, mobile tech extended its reach in ways we couldn't have imagined. In 2019 you can expect the invasion to get even deeper with the arrival of fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless technology. Over the next couple of years, what could be the most significant disruption since the debut of the smartphone itself will bring with it a host of changes, including much faster speeds and better connectivity. With leading global smartphone brands and the nation's top wireless carriers (Samsung, Apple, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) all gearing up and jockeying for the 5G rollout, it's tie to start thinking about the benefits of 5G and the impact the new technology will have on your web presence and online marketing efforts.
Here are six things you can expect:
- 5G Will Come in Waves
Although 5G networks have already begun rolling out, much like the current 4th generation, or 4G, technology, 5G will take time to reach most people (i.e. your customers and clients). The technology will initially be available in a small number of larger markets.
- AT&T has announced plans to offer coverage in a dozen cities by the end of this year, before adding seven more in the first half of 2019 and completing its national network in 2021.
- Verizon is slated to launch 5G service in a handful of markets next year, along with supported devices.
- T-Mobile is planning for a nationwide 5G network in 2020.
Many industry analysts are less optimistic, forecasting that higher-speed networks won't likely be widely available until the middle of the next decade.
- There Will (Initially) Be Limited 5G-Compatible Devices
Samsung has partnered with AT&T to release a 5G-compatible smartphone in the first half of 2019. Sprint's first 5G phone , an LG-built model, will also debut in the same timeframe, but will only support 5G speeds in just nine markets before rolling out to more areas. Apple, which typically waits until networks mature before developing devices for them, is eyeing a 2020 5G iPhone release.
Smartphones will have to be outfitted with faster chips to handle 5G's lightning-fast capabilities (mobile data speeds as much as 100x faster than current 4G networks). And mobile carriers must fine-tune and work out any kinks in the systems their networks will use to capture these higher speeds.
- 5G Will Allow for Faster Video Streaming
Some experts predict that 5G will be anywhere from 10-100 times faster than current cellular connections and even faster than hard-wired cable-based Internet. If that's true, faster speeds would present a great opportunity for websites to add high-definition videos to highlight and complement products and services, which can be a powerful tool for reaching and engaging consumers and is a huge benefit of 5G technology.
- Ads Will Load Faster and AR/VR Will Reach Its Full Potential
Since 5G-equipped smartphones will have the ability to consistently stream ultra-high-def video at gigabit speeds, online advertisements will load faster, providing a richer and more interactive experience. In the case of immersive virtual reality and augmented reality, 5G's high-speed connection, increased network capacity and minimal delays will fully bring AR/VR to life.
- 5G Will Increase Mobility and Remote Access
Having access to 5G-enhanced mobile Internet means more users (consumers) will be visiting your website and social media channels on the go. Vehicle passengers will have the ability to stay reliably connected, making it easier to work during their commutes or shop while traveling. A faster and more reliable Internet will create a greater ability to access and change almost everything Web-related in real time, making it easy to customize your website, manage your inventory or manage your digital marketing campaigns on the fly, from virtually anywhere. Another benefit of 5G, super-fast, wireless Internet also means being able to use smart devices to optimize how your website works with your brick-and-mortar location. And more reliable connectivity will give your customers the power to share your content, products and their experiences (and reviews) from virtually anywhere.
- 5G is About Much More Than Just Speed (and Your Smartphone)
5G will make it possible to universally connect almost unlimited numbers of wireless devices that have the potential to transform the capabilities of millions of devices that will be connected to the next-generation cellphone network—from smartwatches and other wearable tech to sensor-embedded products. With the ability to go online anytime from anywhere, 5G-capable devices will significantly impact our daily lives, changing how we interact at home, in our vehicles, on the job and in our communities.
Although both home and on-the-go Internet speeds will improve over what's currently available, some experts say the systems being put in place aren't yet ready to handle the level of speed being promised. In all likelihood, 5G probably won't be perfected for a while, and you probably shouldn't count on the benefits of 5G anytime soon.
Though there will be early adopters, mobile carriers, web designers, app developers and digital marketers will need to show the average consumers more than just faster downloads and streaming video if 5G phones are to become must-have items before the next-generation network is available nationwide. That being said, now is still the time to start planning ahead for the day when we fully feel the disruptive power of mobile's latest incarnation. The technology may not be fully matured tomorrow, but now is the time to prepare for what is certainly just beyond the horizon.