In this blog, we’ll help you make sense of it whilst providing you with some industry expert opinions on the potential implications of 5G.
Currently, events and meetings are heavily reliant on the strength of the Wi-Fi and the amount of bandwidth available. Bandwidth is a fundamental element in the success of events so be sure to calculate your needs via below before your next event.
That being said, 5G is not the be all and end all of connectivity considerations for event planners. Having an understanding of connectivity is increasingly important for event planners. Mobile networks and wireless connections are developing at unprecedented rates, so it’s never been more important for event planners to embrace and incorporate these changes into future events. But yet, connectivity advances should be considered with a pinch of salt - a good test for their benefit is whether it promotes ‘automation’ or ‘innovation’?
What is 5G?
5G is short for ‘fifth generation mobile networks’. It’s the next generation of mobile internet connectivity. It’s often referred to as “the networks of networks” because unlike with previous iterations of mobile networks (3G, 4G etc), it will bind together multiple existing tech and future standards.
Having said that, 5G is not without its critics. Many are sceptical about 5G’s predicted impact on the events industry - will it really be the perfect answer to all our connectivity issues? Even though we can’t give a definitive answer just yet, there is still excitement with “what it can do on an infrastructure level to improve the experience, whether it can 'automate' the mundane, and deliver frictionless personalisation” as by Robert Dunsmore.
What are the benefits of 5G?
Here are the three biggest benefits
The primary benefit of 5G for event planners is speed. Whilst predictions vary, 5G is expected to reach speeds in excess of 10Gb/s. It’s only when you compare it to existing 4G speeds that you realise just how quick that is. That's 100 times faster and quick enough to download a HD video in seconds!
A secondary benefit that may have a larger implication, especially for events, is the capacity of 5G. This is because 5G will have access to more and higher frequencies. Without getting bogged down, this means that networks will be able to cope with higher demands all at once.
I’d hazard a guess that everyone has been in a scenario at a stadium where you are unable to get a signal. This is usually due to there only being a finite amount of capacity within an area. 5G won't have this problem so it will likely lead to a decreased dependence on Wi-Fi.
A major benefit of 5G is the reduced latency.It might take us longer to recognise the benefits of reduced latency because it is heavily reliant on other technology - virtual and augmented applications. 5G’s low latency and higher capacity enable advanced processing to be handled remotely as opposed to locally on devices and headsets. This might lead to an increase in the use of VR and AR at events.
How will 5G impact events?
Well, that depends on who you ask.
Increased use of VR & AR
“Increased bandwidth and reduced latency will make virtual reality and augmented reality feasible in the context of an event. It will also reduce the need for Wi-Fi, particularly at large events.” Andrew Scheivachman - Skift
"One of the key benefits of 5G networks is that they enable a technique called 'network slicing'. This is where a proportion (or slice) of the available bandwidth is allocated to specific applications. This is applicable in events which require reliable connectivity for the broadcast of live video direct from the venue, such as concerts. Broadcasters require sustained and guaranteed bandwidth in order to produce audio-visual content at the defined level of quality, so their ability to harness 5G network slices will be invaluable." Simon Forrest of Futuresource Consulting
Increase in Content Stream and Live Interactions
“5G will make online content streaming and live interactions more streamlined during large interactive speaker sessions. This new generation of wireless is much faster than 4G and is designed to support 3D content on augmented reality and virtual reality”. Brian Friedman, vice president of digital innovation - Aventri.Incr
“Every new technology predicts the death of the older technology, whether it’s wireless predicting the death of ever needing wires again, or 5G predicting the death of WiFi. Essentially they all end up working together: as 5G gets faster, so does WiFi. We expect 5G to allow more engaging event applications, video delivery, larger coverage areas, and more. Things you can do today only with a large budget will become more accessible to all events.” - Cliff Skolnick of RightRound.
“I'm really excited to see whether 5G begins to take off in 2019. It has the potential to enable a huge range of cutting-edge technologies and interesting creative options, by making high-speed bandwidth as accessible as hot and cold running water.” - Mike Piddock - CEO of Glisser
“To the question of 5G – well it's not here yet – but when it is “what can’t it be used for..” Connectivity beyond our current experience via a simpler, more robust network – response times 20 times quicker with no discernible latency. The entire event delivery chain can be re-shaped, audience accessibility to one another with breath-taking connectivity – and the time saved by automation can be used for genuine innovation. Get it right and events will probably be the best media channel in the world” - Robert Dunsmore - Live Events Native
“Our community of In-house Corporate Event (ICE) planners are eagerly adopting technology to enhance their event experiences and outcomes. Their challenge lies in focusing on their event objectives and not being sidetracked by tech gimmicks. The introduction of 5G, with its enhanced speed and connectivity, will give event planners fantastic opportunities to offer delegates even better environments with real-time virtual experiences, increased security and attendee insights.” Anita Howard - ICE Awards
What can you do as an Event Planner?
Whilst 5G networks are not expected to roll out until 2020, it’s important for event planners to understand the implications of 5G at events and how they can be harnessed.
For example, 5G can be used to optimise potential event revenue:
With increased connectivity speeds, the WiFi allocation in event budgets can be slashed or even cut completely.
With recent developments in connectivity, there is no reason for even planners to shy away from live streaming in events. Live streaming is a cost-effective way to increase the virtual attendee size without also increasing the size of the venue leading to increased ticket sales.
With increased virtual attendees, you could boost event personalisation via VR content. This has been identified as a major positive factor in the overall attendee experience so harnessing it can increase the likelihood attendees will attend (whether physically or virtually) the next event.