5G has been designed from the start to meet the needs of enterprise customers, and it’s already starting to make an impact.
Businesses of all sizes, from large enterprises down to microbusinesses, are looking to 5G not only to provide mobile communications but also to service a new work-from-anywhere (WFX) paradigm. Although no one could have foreseen this current situation, it turns out that 5G has arrived at just the right time to help us rebuild and reshape the post-pandemic economy.
One of the most exciting use cases is mixed reality—superimposing virtual images onto real surroundings to create an augmented reality scenario, which can be used to help front-line workers perform their tasks more effectively.
“Augmented and virtual reality technology is a key area of focus at T-Mobile for 5G use-case development, and it is applicable to so many industries, from healthcare to manufacturing, agriculture and more,” John Saw, executive vice president of advanced and emerging technologies at T-Mobile, said in a recent blog post.
Immersive Collaboration, Virtually Anywhere
Because enterprises often have to use complex equipment, and at the same time may be coping with a shortage of skilled workers, it is more important than ever that they can provide that workforce with sophisticated training and technical support capabilities.
Technicians can use augmented reality over 5G to receive immersive training or to collaborate with remote experts when performing complex tasks. T-Mobile’s low-latency, high-capacity 5G network using mid-band spectrum is ideal for this application, giving businesses the help they need to boost productivity.
In his blog post, Saw describes how Timberline Communications Inc., a company that builds out communications infrastructure, is using AR over a 5G connection to perform cell site upgrades and maintenance on T-Mobile’s own network. The AR software developed by Taqtile—a recent graduate of the 5G Open Innovation Lab, and co-founded by T-Mobile—is hosted in the cloud. By superimposing visual instructions over relevant equipment, it allows TCI’s technicians to perform routine maintenance and troubleshoot problems using remote assistance. AR solutions like these can enable front-line workers to update their skills from any location, with the ability to explore machinery and installations in 3D from every angle.
Giving New Dimension To Video Calls
While video calls have become the go-to replacement for in-person meetings over the past year, the limitations of talking to a flat 2D image have sometimes been frustrating. Using technology called holographic telepresence, video calls could be made much more realistic. Multiple moving projections of lifesize 3D images can be projected into the room, providing an experience that simulates physical presence. The technology promises a more natural, intuitive way of communicating with people over a distance, and also hints at the possibility of virtual or hybrid conferences and exhibitions becoming a viable alternative to in-person events in the future.
Holographic presence demands low latency if it is to look realistic and responsive, and T-Mobile’s national mid-band metro spectrum allocation is ideal for this application. “We have been testing holographic video calling technology with Omnivor, another graduate of the 5G Open Innovation Lab,” said Saw. “Just recently we conducted part of our quarterly all-hands team meeting using holographic telepresence including about 70 people, all interacting virtually in their home offices and other locations in real time as 3D holograms.”
Supercharging Business Growth
As well as making it easier for people to work from home and for kids to be home-schooled, 5G technology has the power to provide innovative opportunities for businesses to evolve and for organizations to fulfill new needs like telehealth. Thanks to 5G, consumers will soon be able to benefit from contactless home deliveries via small robot trucks or even drones.
“Consumers love the self-service economy, and with robots, drones and autonomous vehicles running on 5G, we’ll do so much more,” commented Saw.
Helping businesses get back on their feet post-pandemic will take even more creative uses of technology to keep everyone safe while boosting productivity. T-Mobile has the only nationwide stand-alone (SA) 5G network in the U.S. This means the network uses 5G equipment that’s built from the ground up, rather than being built on top of existing 4G infrastructure.
SA 5G provides the foundation to enable advanced capabilities like edge computing as well as network slicing, and this is what can transform industrial IoT and allow us to build smart factories. Robots and cobots on the factory floor, and sensors monitoring key processes, can all be controlled by the supervisor from the safety of their office, or even from a remote work location, while materials and components can be moved around warehouses and factories using small autonomous guided vehicles.
In rural areas, where fixed broadband speeds can be slower or less reliable, it has been particularly difficult for remote workers to collaborate and work efficiently and for local businesses to effectively build online offerings. 5G fixed wireless access using mid- and high-band spectrum has the potential to fill the gap by providing a more robust home broadband experience, with speeds as high as those of Wi-Fi or regular home broadband.
With its accelerator program and 5G Open Innovation Lab, T-Mobile is working hard to develop 5G use cases to help its enterprise customers transform their businesses. Supporting all existing use cases for 5G, T-Mobile is now challenging innovators and entrepreneurs to develop transformative applications to further unlock the potential of 5G for enterprises.
“We’re seeing a ton of interest from the developer community because we have a real, meaningful 5G network they can test and develop for,” Saw said.
Without a doubt, 5G’s speed, capacity and coverage will enable businesses to improve collaboration and productivity wherever work happens. The outstanding question, however, is: Which connectivity providers can help you unlock this new state of innovation?
More than just fast network speeds, find out why T-Mobile’s 5G network is your platform for innovation.