How marketers can benefit from 5G network roll-out

Dave Gurney, CEO, AlchemetricsThe fifth generation of mobile technology is on its way. Ericsson predicts that 1.5 billion users – 40% of the global population coverage – will have access to a 5G network by 2024. So it’s not just for urbanites, but for those in the countryside too, many of whom still struggle to access 3G; let alone 4G.

Last week, Chancellor Sajid Javid announced he was pumping £5bn into rolling out 5G, paying close attention to rural areas.

However, some of Britain’s country residents are not exactly jumping for joy. In fact, householders in Totnes, Devon, have successfully persuaded council members to block the installation of 5G masts by Vodafone, EE, O2 and other networks on the grounds that they pose a serious health hazard.

The reason for this is that 5G transmits data through the air, rather than through cables or telephone wires. It uses a 5G New Radio interface, along with other new technologies, that utilise much higher radio frequencies. Radio frequencies result in high frequency radiation, which, according to some scientists, are possibly linked to increases in cancerous tumours. Many other scientists disagree. The jury is still very much out.

Evidently there are some issues regarding the roll out, but there is significant investment behind its implementation, so once it gets here what does 5G actually mean for marketers?

Quite a lot. 5G isn’t just a faster 4G (like 4G was to 3G), it is a seismic change. It is smarter and more efficient. Yes it promises mobile data speeds that far outstrip the current fastest home broadband – by as much as 100 times, but it also has low latency.

This means that the time that passes from the moment information is sent from a device until it can be used by the receiver is reduced – significantly. This means stuff can happen in realtime with no buffering. Additionally, it enables more devices to be used within the same geographic area.

Currently 4G can support about 4,000 devices per square kilometre, whereas 5G will support around one million. Bandwidth issues will become a problem of history. It means that suddenly autonomous cars, VR, connected home products, the Internet of Things truly become a reality.

For marketers this opens up a plethora of opportunity. The mind literally boggles just thinking about the endless ways marketers can engage with their customers. From seamless integration of brand to voice assistants; omnichannel 3.0 – a joined up journey and experience across every channel and every connected device – from fridge and washing machine to smart phone and car.

There is no reason why broadcast media can’t become more personalised: serving ads relevant to each specific car owner via their Internet enabled radio in the car or through their various TVs around the house.

What is clear is the onus on data will become far greater than it is even now. We might think we’ve seen big data; but the truth is “we ain’t seen nothing yet”. There is no denying it, it is a colossal undertaking.

Therefore, in the calm before what will be the inevitable 5G storm marketers need to get on the front foot and ensure that they are data-ready with the correct CDP infrastructure in place so that the promise of super-connected, hyper-personalised marketing is realised.

Dave Gurney is chief executive of Alchemetrics

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