5G: The risks and rewards of keeping your business connected

07 January 2021

The idea of connectivity has never been more important. Large parts of the global economy have been mothballed, families kept apart and businesses are operating with limited capacity and workforces scattered across multiple locations, making communication with our families, our places of work and our customers more crucial than ever.

Connectivity is key for businesses that want to continue operating in a changing world, meaning the power, flexibility and resilience of a telecoms network needs to be a strategic international priority.

Since 2019, 5G technology has been gradually deployed across our global telecoms network and is arguably the big bang from which industries, homes, travel and society will be reshaped.

5G is perhaps the most fundamental technological development in a generation. It is the profound combination of human capability, artificial intelligence, smart devices and connectivity that will come to define a world in which businesses must be innovative, resilient and competitive. Achieving the correct deployment of 5G technology solutions is crucial for the present, but it is also vital to what happens next. Our upcoming series of short reports, WELL.CONNECTED, looks at the challenges and opportunities that 5G brings. Pre-register to receive the reports when they launch.

An explosion of connected devices, networks, products and services, plus 5G's speed and low latency, will underpin many of the other technologies that are already driving business digitalisation, facilitating communication between a vast range of devices and supporting the wireless transfer of huge data volumes produced by new devices as they communicate with each other.

5G can deliver on both the promise of future opportunities and the need to adapt to the next normal that we are only beginning to understand.

However, 5G can only make the contribution that people want, and organisations seek, if all the stakeholders involved in its deployment get it right from the start. The potential opportunity for 5G is well known, but it is how it is discussed, embraced, understood and executed in the years ahead that will make the real difference to business communities and society at large.

Previous networks have largely been the concern of patent holders, hardware companies, land and property owners and, of course, the telecoms operators. However, 5G is different – not only in what it can do for businesses – but in how it works. Whereas 3G enabled us to talk to items, 4G enabled us to see items through video, 5G will enable us to feel things. A fully operational 5G network will mean that there is low latency between communications allowing tasks that rely on timing to be carried out such as synchronising instruments in an orchestra across continents.

Exploring the key challenges and opportunities that arise from the deployment of 5G is essential for any business that is looking to secure its long-term future. This means general counsel and leaders of businesses need to fully understand where the ownership, regulatory, deployment and security risks lie when looking at how 5G can drive their business forward.

Our upcoming series WELL.CONNECTED is designed to contribute to that conversation in a way that shows the challenges and opportunities within 5G for businesses.

This series draws in thinking from across Gowling WLG through contributions from lawyers who are part of, and, in some cases, leading the conversation with businesses about 5G ramifications.

Not only that, WELL.CONNECTED explores 5G deployment from all angles to demonstrate the range of implications for businesses in almost any sector. By tapping into the expertise from across our business, we have found that being 'well connected' goes deeper than ensuring effective physical deployment of beacons, wires and infrastructure - it also speaks to a mindset.

We'll explore the key challenges for business and barriers to 5G adoption and examine some of the defining conversations emerging about the vast array of devices and networks that can talk to one another seamlessly, and, critically, who owns the commercial rights to this.

Physical deployment of beacons and cables is different from 3G and 4G, right down to the hardware and how the infrastructure is maintained. We'll scrutinise how future-proofing 5G tech is becoming a cultural battle between how competing companies operate in a commercial environment.

Finally, an explosion of data brings with it both security and regulatory issues for companies and governments alike. Our report series unpicks some of those key barriers and hurdles, including highlighting those not yet under general consideration.

The impact of 5G on business sectors is going to be profound and there are set to be several key industries that are going to help shape its successful deployment.

Focussing on these industries and, in some cases, rethinking processes and strategies, will be crucial to the delivery of a fully realised 5G solution and help to further leverage the large-scale digitalisation of the global economy.

Pre-register to receive our series of WELL.CONNECTED reports when they launch.

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