Benefits of Using 5G Technology in a Commercial Building

04/20/2020 By Valerie Dennis Craven

So much of what a building and its occupants do demands network connectivity, that a good connection is necessary and expected. Architects and designers should also consider the increased use of connected devices and sensors, and the looming sunsetting of 3G networks that’s possible in the next few years.

With all those factors put together, your clients might be considering if they should add 5G to their space.

What is 5G?

5G—or the fifth generation of networking—isn’t available everywhere, so while it might not yet be available for a few years, you should be aware of it to be prepared for its capabilities for your clients.

While 1G and 2G focused on voice a data; and 3G, 4G and 4G LTE brought smartphone capabilities; 5G will connect people and things. 5G, a Deloitte report explains, “will enable a new era of connecting machines, with the value of these connections being in the data interchange between them.”

HI-rise buildings connecting via 5G

While the previous generations of network technology use cell towers to transmit over long distances, 5G uses a combination of frequencies to create more coverage. 5G’s benefits include:

  • Increased bandwidth, capacity and speed
  • Lower latency

The Internet of Things (IoT) and video are some of the more common use cases that would benefit from 5G, and with it, data that can be collected. Your clients may be eager to take advantage of the technology to fully embrace data and IoT capabilities in their space.

Not only that, but 3G will sunset and 4G LTE will hit a bottleneck at some point as more IoT devices get online, warns Darren Sadana, CEO of Choice IoT. “It opens the opportunity for 5G in the space.”

Getting Started With 5G

Ted Ritter, principal at Lead Management Institute and global chair for the Information Technology Community of IFMA, hears commercial building clients and community members asking questions around availability and cost, like how to better:

  • Support the user experience if in a building
  • Connect teams in multiple locations at once
  • Help service personnel in the field
  • Support multi-language interaction in real time

A McKinsey & Company survey of CTOs at large telcos in 2019 found 61% of operators responding that they expect peak rollout during the period between 2020 and 2022, and in most markets its presence will be felt from 2020 on.

In the meantime, Ritter encourages those interested in taking advantage of 5G to partner with the right IT resources. Together, you can develop a roadmap and capacity planning exercise based on uses case discussions with department heads and a workplace strategist.

It’s likely that there will be three potential use case components to consider, Ritter explains. How will this impact:

  • Internal customers [the employees or facility occupants of the organization]
  • Organization customers
  • Logistics of operating the building or portfolio with the internal team and service partners

From there, decide how 5G can help the organization do things faster that couldn’t be done before, and what processes or functions can it support for the space. Ritter notes that the industry and market will determine what is most important. “The highest value for each will be different,” he says.

The Future of 5G

Ritter suggests looking at cutting-edge buildings and the technology that’s in place to see what can be possible with 5G. He points to The Edge in Amsterdam, named the world’s most sustainable office building, or read about Humber River Hospital with its command center (bit.ly/3bSQJ6a).

One thing to keep in mind, Ritter says, is that “the more devices we connect, the more maintenance we are putting on ourselves and the teams that support our infrastructure and buildings.”

Sadana compares 5G technology to internet 2.0 in terms of impact on the future. He expects the next Amazon or Google to be developed in medical, autonomous vehicles or IoT. “We will see applications we haven’t thought of yet.”

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