When 5G arrives, it will bring huge possibilities for businesses and their workspaces. To understand what this new technology can offer and what you can do to prepare for it, Love YourWorkspace had a peek at the Spark 5G test lab. We sat down with Rob Berrill, Tribe Lead Physical Infrastructure at Spark, to make sure your workspace is 5G ready….
Stepping into the 5G tech lab is something special. The lab opened in Wynyard Quarter in November last year and has already welcomed over 2,700 of Spark’s enterprise customers to showcase the potential of 5G in streaming, connected automotive, Smart New Zealand, immersive technology, drones and robotics.
Spark 5G Co-Lab Space
The 5G difference
5G is the next generation of mobile technology and is the most customer-centric of mobile standards to date. In creating it, experts across a number of industries came together to imagine ‘what do you think the future holds for your industry?’ and ‘how might the mobile industry help you achieve it?’ It’s a true testament to multilateral collaboration.
In a nutshell, 5G allows the network to deliver data in real time with massive connectivity and reliance with ultra-low latency. In plain English, that means much more data, and much, much faster. And it opens up the future possibilities of connectivity, technology and augmented reality due to the capacity that 5G can deliver.
Rob Berrill says the main impact of 5G will be around three core elements. “Firstly, an increase in speed of ten to twenty times faster than the current 4G networks. You can imagine the impact that this will have on businesses receiving information and being able to act on it immediately.
“Secondly, 5G will offer ultra-low latency, effectively an almost near real time response when using the technology. Whether this is about virtual reality or the future of self-driving cars, ultra-low latency is a game changer.
“Lastly, massive connectivity. Everything that can be connected will be connected. The Internet Of Things will allow all manner of devices and sensors to be deployed and managed more efficiently: for example, sensors tracking the quality of fresh produce through supply chains to sensors monitoring buildings and environmental conditions of office environments”
What is 5G infrastructure and how can businesses get ready?
Most organisations have a digital strategy and understand that mobile connectivity is central to the future of change, including moving data to the cloud and video conferencing technology. A digital strategy needs to be combined with a security strategy and one that evolves as the use of that connectivity develops, says Rob.
“Spark has one of the largest security operations in the country and we take that position very seriously. When we introduce 5G across New Zealand, security will be an important part of the network’s architecture.”
While the new technology can be deployed on existing cell phone towers it can also be deployed in a much smaller form as well. “5G connectivity can be as small as a pizza box and can be located into general infrastructure like street lighting, bus stops and rubbish bins. Spark is working with landlords and developers to ensure buildings, and especially new developments, are set up for wireless connectivity in the future, which will enable occupiers the freedom of embracing the future of work. Tenants moving into office buildings will expect excellent mobile connectivity and good commercial landlords are designing that into developments now.”
Spark driverless car
Workplaces will change
With the introduction of 5G, the physical work environment will continue to change, and workspaces will eventually become smaller as the network of talent is allowed to spread.
Rob says, “Organisations can truly encourage flexible working with the reality of real-time connections, allowing a business and employee to become more nimble, interactive and accessible.
“Collaboration space and activity will continue to evolve as a way of working. Today, organisations want people to collaborate but to still be physically present. The workplace of the future will use the concept of collaboration to its full potential.
“Where once FaceTiming into a meeting came with issues of lag and connectivity, with the introduction of 5G you will truly have a voice at the table and be able to interact in real-time no matter where you are. Collaboration spaces will be the work zones on the floor that you go to connect together virtually – whether this is a meeting, office-to-office connection, or office-to-client site connection or to staff members out in the field. The space will be a pocket inside the physical workspace where people can be together while not distracting others.”
Suburban satellite offices will become an increasing feature of the future workspace, with big corporates becoming increasingly comfortable to have their workforce physically distributed but virtually present. With 5G, organisations can increasingly offer employees remote work experience encouraging sustainability, wellbeing and diversity and inclusion through increased flexibility and fully immersive tools like smart glasses to engage.
Moreover, the likes of construction companies who have teams working at headquarters and onsite can now be connected through 5G with smart glasses to engage with each other and high-risk machinery can be operated from the safety of an office or replaced with robotics. Likewise, the team at headquarters can see what is happening on site and receive the data in real-time.
Spark 5G Co-Lab Space
Organisations are now also starting to think about how they are using AI, says Rob. “They are asking how they can automate new processes, and how they can become more customer-centric, using the data analytics available from mobile connectivity. Using facial recognition instead of security barriers to enter the physical workspace environment will be made more accessible with 5G on your mobile. Your digital identity will be with you all the time, allowing you to connect into the workspace that you know and want to be in.”
Responding to concerns relating to the impact of electromagnetic fields generated by cell towers and related equipment, Rob says “There’s a lot of health implication rumours about 5G, in New Zealand this is governed by the New Zealand Standard NZS2772 and recommended by the Ministry of Health. We design all our mobile sites to comply with this standard and do independent monitoring to ensure ongoing compliance. The deployment of 5G technology will fully comply with the standards set by Ministry of Health and international bodies.”
What is the future?
Rob says he is most excited about the possibilities that 5G will provide, particularly the ones we don’t yet know. “I don’t have a crystal ball, but when you consider 4G and the changing impact it has had over the last number of years, what we’ve got to look forward to with 5G will be staggering.
“The future 5G business models will be focused more on partnering and we will be co-designing how it is used with customers who want to work with us to shape the future.”
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