SME solutions
    28 April 2020


    5G: What is it and what can it really do

    You don’t have to work in the technology industry to have heard about the hype surrounding 5G. But what exactly is 5G, and how can it help your business?

    In a nutshell, 5G is the next generation of mobile internet connection. It offers much faster data download and upload speeds (up to 100 times faster than 4G), latency as low as a few milliseconds and greater bandwidth than ever before.

    Latency is the time it takes to get a response to information sent. Many describe 5G as having an almost ‘real-time’ response, with the transmission about as fast as standing next to each other in person. Bandwidth is the maximum rate of data transfer across a given path – the more you have, the more devices can be connected and data transmitted.

    Think back to the early 2000s, when 3G launched and made it possible for people to surf the web on mobile devices for the first time. Then, the introduction of 4G in 2013 meant increased speeds and reduced latency, which resulted in hi-res videos, audio streaming and instant maps becoming a daily reality.

    While 5G improves on these measures, with no lag time for gamers and even quicker streaming of films and TV on the move, this generation of the network has the power to do much more. It will transform the way we live and work, leading to innovations that many businesses haven’t even realised exist yet. This is why it’s imperative for businesses to start understanding and implementing this technology now.

    So, what could 5G be capable of in the future?

    The future of 5G


    Take healthcare for example, with latency down to a few milliseconds, doctors could treat patients from thousands of miles away as if they were in the same room. This would mean that even the most remote communities could benefit from video consultations and procedures conducted by specialists living on the other side of the world. It also means that the control centres used by the emergency services could benefit from remote diagnosis which could inform hospitals about incoming casualties before they even arrive.

    In the classroom

    When paired with other technologies, 5G will allow new ways of teaching. Immersive lessons through Augmented Reality will give students the opportunity to explore concepts via gestures such as touch, pinch and zoom, while Virtual Reality will enable them to tour the human body or even visit other planets. When paired with the Internet of Things, administrative tasks could be completed automatically and robotic teaching assistants could give children with disabilities extra support.

    Remote working

    Augmented Reality could also become part of our working day and, with virtual experiences that feel so real, people will no longer need to be based in one place to work together. Imagine an engineer looking at a virtual system and being able to fix it remotely. Or dipping into a virtual database of knowledge to diagnose a fault in seconds. This will increase worker safety and boost productivity.


    Day-to-day, connected, autonomous transport could ensure commuters arrive at the office safely and efficiently as 5G’s responses are fast enough to coordinate self-driving vehicles. Also, if vehicles have cameras installed capturing continuous video footage, accidents could be relayed to a central database and used to help assess and prevent accidents. These videos would not just be collected by the cars involved, but by all the vehicles in the area at the time.

    At Vodacom Business, we’re passionate about helping businesses of all sizes understand how innovative technologies, such as 5G, can help carry them into the next phase and make them ready for the future, whatever that may look like.

    Vodacom Business

    By connecting people, places and things, Vodacom Business helps organisations succeed in a digital world. With our expertise in connectivity, our leading IoT platform and our global scale, we can deliver the results you need to progress and thrive. Find out how we’re helping businesses of all sizes and sectors connect for a better future.