5G gets real

What does this mean for next-gen connectivity?

The world is finally entering the much anticipated 5G era, and China is leading the charge.

The superfast mobile internet began its early stages of rollout across many major economies in 2019, including the UK, US and South Korea. But China is at the forefront, with 5G subscribers already exceeding 10m people – though this is still a drop in the ocean compared with the 847m mobile users in China.

With mobile carriers planning extensive infrastructure investment and many 5G devices soon to be launched, global industry body GSMA is predicting 600m 5G connections in China by 2025, if not sooner. There is no question about the immense opportunities that 5G will provide. It is expected to impact most business sectors, from manufacturing to services, and could bring unprecedented change to consumers’ lives. The China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) estimates that by 2030, 5G will add 2.9tn Yuan in value to China’s economy.

What are the main benefits of 5G?

The marketing and communications industry will be one of the key beneficiaries of the 5G era, enabling far greater capabilities to reach and engage with consumers – but this will require a significant transformation from marketers.

5G has three key benefits over the current 4G:

  • Increased connectivity means the network can handle far more devices, providing the opportunity for anything and everything to be connected to the internet.
  • Lower latency – the speed with which devices can communicate with one another – indicates that data transfers will be almost instantaneous, a critical factor in the development of advanced technologies such as autonomous vehicles.
  • And finally, download speeds up to 20x higher will facilitate advancements in data-heavy technologies such as virtual reality.

What will migration to 5G mean for marketers, media owners and agencies?

For one thing, it will allow people to stream TV and video content reliably without a WiFi connection, so will have major implications for ‘on-the-go’ media consumption. It could also support IoT devices such as smart product packaging, as well as connected technologies like sportswear, and facilitate hyper-personalised brand experiences. Brands will be able to connect with customers at any time, in any location, using richer, more immersive content.

However, there are also challenges. More devices mean there will be even more fragmented datasets to be integrated and consolidated, in order to gain a holistic consumer view for marketers. In addition, walled gardens will need to connect with other platforms to achieve a complete picture of the consumer, and this is no small task. Beyond the logistics, the privacy concerns of consumers and the data protection regulations, such as Europe’s GDPR, must be considered.

There will be a fine line between providing a better experience and overstepping the mark.

While 5G brings many more opportunities for marketers, it also means significant transformation, which isn’t going to be easy. The good news is that it’s a few years before 5G will be fully functional, giving the industry time to prepare.

Paul Cha

Head of Digital & Media, Kantar

published on

13 January 2020


Technology & data

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