The advent of technology forces such as big data, analysis, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing to support digitisation in business brought about next generation connectivity infrastructure. Experts in ICT managed services have described the imminence of 5G mobile wireless standard as a breakthrough that promises to open up new channels of opportunity across enterprise networks.

Jan Roux, CIO at Integr8, a South African-based global managed ICT services provider, says 5G is currently more of a ‘concept’ than an actual technology, but there is little doubt about its influence in the near future.

5G represents an advancement of 4G LTE standard of wireless communication, and promises higher speed and will underpin Unified Communications (UC) – the convergence of the IoT, big data, the cloud and mobile technology.

Roux says while it is difficult to know precisely what 5G will ultimately look like, there are several characteristics that will differentiate the technology. “What we do know at this stage is that there will definitely be a huge increase in speed over the current 4G/LTE technology. Dependent on the final technology, it is estimated that the final speed will be in the region of 10Gbps versus the current theoretical 100Mbps we get from the current 4G technology,” he explains.

“This increase in speed, together with a big decrease in latency, will enable the technology to be used for applications and services that has historically only been able to function over fibre or traditional cable networks,” Roux adds.

5G will very likely influence user experience of full ultra HD video or 3D video streaming; according to the Integr8 executive. From an end-user point of view, it is predicted that the next generation mobile wireless standard will have a lasting and positive impact – particularly within mobile-driven and dominated markets.

“The progress in technology over the next couple of years will see additional benefits like better power consumption for portable devices, simple configuration and management, and much better and more stable connectivity, as well as the ability to cater for more connected devices,” says Roux.

Looking ahead, Integr8 is positioning its service and technical expertise to guide clients in their understanding and application of 5G to leverage the speed and reliability of the technology.

“With all these anticipated enhancements of the technology, it will without a doubt prepare the landscape to truly cater for concepts like IoT and “smarthomes”; both of which are heavily dependent on fast, reliable and stable connections between devices. It will also negate the need to have fiber for a fast Internet connection, and this, in its own right, holds a huge amount of benefits,” he says.

These benefits will materialise and be exploited by businesses, but will also empower users in rural areas across the continent. As Roux explains, there is an ongoing and widespread campaign in many regions across Africa to increase Internet availability rates, and raise the continent’s profile from an adoption and mobile access point of view.

Given that the majority of access to the Internet is via mobile solutions in Africa, the role and relevance of 5G cannot be underestimated.

“5G will probably be the technology that will wipe out the digital divide,” Roux concludes.