Published Monday 24th February 2020

As with many periods since the turn of the millennium, business leaders entered this new decade with a renewed excitement about what the future of technology may hold. Many different technologies have been mentioned with regards to how they could transform how businesses operate, but the most seismic change will inarguably come from the widespread implementation of 5G network services.

5G is slowly becoming available across the UK, with some areas already having access to it in one format or another. Up to now, the majority of the conversation has concerned how it could transform how customers and services communicate. However, the unique nature of this new technology means that it could entirely revolutionise how cities and buildings are designed. In truth, the arrival of 5G could transform the building and infrastructure sectors more than any other.

Understanding the Meaning of 5G

It’s easy to underestimate just how much a full rollout of 5G could transform the way we live and work. Much of this comes from its apparent comparisons to the pre-existing 4G network, but the differences between the two are so substantial that there are notably few similarities.

The introduction of 4G was all about offering faster mobile connectivity speeds. 4G helped accelerate the widespread use of smartphone technology, to the point where many people perform the majority of their daily interactions through their mobiles.

The majority of these 4G interactions – such as checking our bank balance or ordering items for delivery – are transactional in nature; a digital payment for a separate, mostly non-digital service. 5G is a much more powerful technology able to handle many more requests at a much faster speed. This increased potential allows for not only smartphones to utilise mobile networks but almost everything that we come across in our lives, from building entrances to letters and packages and so on.

In essence, 5G is a catalyst for the widespread rollout of Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Once widely available, every part of our daily interactions will have the potential to be digitalised. 5G could mean only using digital currency, or being able to see to the minute when your package will be delivered.

The Technical Requirements of 5G Technology

As evidenced, 5G would revolutionise not only how businesses and customers interact but, potentially, the very routines on which our lives are based. With that in mind, how could its introduction affect the infrastructure sector more than any other? The answer lies in the technical requirements of such transformative technology.

While many technologies go into making 5G a much-improved system, the most important feature is its increased bandwidth. At most, 4G tends to operate using a 2.5GHz bandwidth, while 5G will start running at 3.5GHz.

This increased bandwidth is a key reason why more devices will be able to transfer more data at the same time. However, the higher frequency also means that the new technology has a smaller reach compared to 4G. Furthermore, 5G mobile waves are notably more sensitive to physical obstructions, meaning that they can struggle to pass through certain materials.

Changing Modern Infrastructure Requirements

5G’s most significant impact will be felt when businesses (and, in the future, cities) can fully utilise it throughout their operations. However, for this to work, the signal must be reliable throughout a vast operating space.

For 5G to be available both inside and outside premises, unique infrastructure will have to be installed inside buildings. 5G stations will become a common occurrence in corporate spaces, something which wasn’t necessary with 4G. Again, this eludes to the differences between 4 and 5G technology. 5G will be used much more like a commercial WiFi network, as opposed to merely being masts for people to make phone calls and watch videos on their devices.

In the distant future, when attention turns towards the creation of smart cities, the development of locations will occur with the needs of 5G at the forefront. Surveyors and other built environment companies will need to be planning for this potential future, acknowledging the challenges and creating solutions for when demand for 5G truly takes off.

Preparing for the Built Environment of the Future

Here at Expense Reduction Analysts, we’ve worked with a range of businesses in the built environment sector, helping to manage long-term and project-specific expenses. Our experienced cost reduction consultants understand the unique needs of this fast-paced sector and can use their experience to help deliver more economically sustainable business practices.

If you’re interested in discovering what our built environment team could save your business, why not get in contact with us today to discuss your needs? Alternatively, see our built environment sector case studies, highlighting our successful work in the industry.