• 5G paved the way for the UK's first holographic phone call, but the technology's improved speed and reduced latency will bring more everyday benefits for business owners.
• 5G promises to eliminate awkward video conference calls, making for a more relaxed, intimate experience when dialling into the office.
• The technology should also cut your commute time by allowing cars to talk to each other and with traffic lights in newly connected 'smart cities.'
That sinking feeling when you're halfway through an important video conference call, the picture drops out or the sound starts to go, promises to be a thing of the past with the benefit of 5G's connectivity.
Vodafone's first live holographic phone call — allowing England Women's Football captain Steph Houghton to appear as a hologram on stage and start sharing tips with young fans — dazzled its audience back in September 2018.
But industry experts explain how the connectivity of 5G promises more everyday benefits for customers and business owners — not least eliminating those stressful video conference calls through improved speed and reduced latency. Experts say it will provide a more relaxed, intimate experience when dialling into the boardroom.
"At the moment, if you have a video conference call planned, you're thinking, 'Oh, I need to find a good signal,'" explains Bill Ray, senior director analyst at Gartner. "The first thing you say to a customer is, 'I'm on the move, I may fall out,' and it's stressful for both of you. With 5G, all that goes away."
Because nobody will be worrying about drop-out, a video conference call promises to be a more relaxing experience, according to Paul Lee, head of telecoms, media, and technology research at Deloitte.
"If you're looking at someone pixelated, that's more work for the brain, but if you're looking at somebody who looks like they do in real life, that's easier on the brain, and allows for better communication," he said.
Regarding possible uses for small business owners, Lee cites the example of a builder video-calling different customers.
"If your client wants to look at a problem roof, you will be able to continue videoing the area as though the client were next to you. It's an upgrade of WhatsApp and photos, which is itself an upgrade of describing a situation in words," he says.
"All the time, we're moving to richer and richer ways of communicating. It's simple things like that where 5G will come in. It's not glamorous, but it is effective."
Away from the office, 5G promises to make our commutes to and from work quicker, safer, even healthier.
"Vehicles will start communicating with each other," explains Ray. "Even with only two vehicles, they will be able to communicate. One car brakes, sends out a signal saying 'I'm going in this direction and I've just braked heavily,' the other car further back can receive that signal, brake as well, and suddenly you've broken that chain of hard braking, improved the traffic flow and that's with just two cars being fitted with the technology.
"When all cars have it, you can know where traffic is, you can arrange your journey to be with green traffic lights, those lights can respond to waiting cars, adjust timings to suit the queues, even adjust lane control, filters, right-hand turns."
This move to 'smart cities' is where wider improvements will really kick in. As well as shorter individual journey times, these connected metropolitan areas, which rely on the internet of things, promise improved road safety and less pollution.
And 5G has the potential to make us healthier, too. According to Lee, one of the trends which will be supported by 5G is a move towards smart commuting, including better mixtures of travel options.
"In lots of European cities, the car dominates, although that's not the same in London where it's not possible to get around. You can't have a huge number of cars and a huge number of people all in the same space.
"5G will support more specialised apps like City Mapper, making people aware of different options, commuting partly by bus, by tube, by walking, and thinking of the health impact this will have on you. These mobile applications can all nudge you, motivate you and berate you into having more mobile lifestyles."
Compiled by Olalekan Adeleye