Presented by Dialpad

For the past three years, we’ve heard the call — 5G is coming, and it’s going to change the world. The predictions rolled in, and we all waited with bated breath. We are now 5G ready. We see the 5G logo in the corner of  our phone. And yet, when we check our data speeds, not much has changed. As we look ahead to 2020, let’s separate the hype from the reality of 5G.

The 5G experience

Today, if your cell phone is connected to WiFi, you experience a rich data connection, with quality on par with a computer. The promise of 5G is that you can have that experience on your cell phone all of the time, even without WiFi.

The audio and video experience will be faster and clearer that it has ever been. A mere five years ago, we trudged through slow download times and constant buffering. Today, we can watch videos on our phones as we would our television and use mobile apps for almost all of our business-critical tasks. These experiences, for both personal and professional use, will only get better with the move to 5G.

Every aspect of the mobile experience will be improved by the 5G boon of better connectivity. Developers, designers, and content creators will benefit from the removal of speed and bandwidth limitations. Users will experience cleaner and clearer connections. “Work from anywhere” will no longer mean you have to be in an office to be a part of a team. 5G will power improved collaboration and information sharing. Companies can hire the best talent from anywhere in the world and keep them connected with high-quality internet and connection over their mobile.

The business impact

Workers will also be able to be more autonomous. A recent report by Slack found that employees value autonomy and flexibility as a top priority for employee satisfaction and productivity. Providing the opportunity for a work experience outside the office that is similar to inside will bolster recruitment and retention efforts for top talent.

It is estimated that 72.6% of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones by 2025. This change is already being reflected in how work gets done. Salesforce’s Marc Benioff recently told a Dreamforce audience that he runs his entire multibillion-dollar company from his iPhone. Will 2020 be the year that people finally ditch that expensive desktop computer or office phone and go purely mobile?

As more business-critical tasks move to the cloud, the idea of having people sitting at a desk from nine to five feels medieval. As 5G becomes more ubiquitous, people can be more productive from wherever they are and use any device. Virtually every industry is going to make use of better connectivity and better bandwidth to push more immersive, deeper, and bigger content. And once you can do that easily, everything gets better.

Even the most data-heavy technologies become available over mobile. Think: virtual reality, multi-party video, and even AI. For example, Dialpad offers capabilities like speech-coaching that rely on AI to provide real-time notifications for speakers to slow down or speak clearer. Right now, this is only available on the desktop version. But with more and more mobile connections to 5G, complex features like Voice Intelligence can be pushed into the mobile solution, freeing people from their desks.

We are also going to see what’s possible once we remove limitations on UI and design for mobile devices. There will be real innovation around how we do more complex functions on a screen a tenth of the size of a 12-inch laptop. Does your company employ a remote or distributed workforce that needs to collaborate and integrate workflows? 5G opens up the possibility of a seamless screen share or a fifty-person video call from a mobile device. An increase and availability of faster data means our conversations will happen faster and more seamlessly. These things haven’t happened before, not because of design, but the constraints imposed by our current network capabilities. Once those constraints are removed, the sky’s the limit.

2020 and beyond

The proof will be in the application. Currently, coverage is limited to only a few areas in certain cities. Every major carrier has announced that it will expand to cover high-population areas in 2020 first, before rolling out more broadly. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, by the end of 2024, 5G subscriptions will reach 1.9 billion, 35% of traffic will be carried by 5G networks and up to 65% of the global population could be covered by the technology. Such a massive  impact to infrastructure will require upgrades to legacy hardware. This won’t happen overnight, and there will be kinks along the way.

However we get there, 5G won’t be the end, it’s the beginning. Producing that kind of modern architecture at scale allows us to take advantage of future innovations that much faster. We can now anticipate the next wave of perpetually improved networks, computer processing, and mobile chip sets and be ready for 6G, 7G, 8G, and more. And, businesses that anticipate and embrace this change will see positive impact in 2020 and in years to come.

Craig Walker is CEO of Dialpad.

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