PopUp WiFi | 5G is coming and we're ready

5G is coming – get the lowdown on what that means for events.

5G is a topic hot on the lips of us event tech nerds everywhere, but what does it all mean? We’re not going to get too technical here, but we’ve put together this quick guide to 5G and what it means to you.

(Spoiler Alert: it’s all good news.)

As 5G starts to roll out across the country, the PopUp WiFi team are eagerly waiting in the wings with 5G compatibility and raring to launch in mid-2019. 4G will still be with us for years to come and 5G will take some time to be adopted by the majority of people. That means that right now is a very exciting time for the events sector as there’s lots of unused internet capacity up for grabs in certain regions.

As 5G towers come online around the country, our new range of 5G-compatible devices will allow the event industry to push the boundaries of unique guest experiences in ways we never thought possible. Brands and events will be able to drive engagement on-site as well as online. Importantly you’ll be able to pull off complex internet-dependent productions at a fraction of what it used to cost.

So let’s start at the start, how is 5G different?

5G is the latest generation of cellular mobile technology. Unlike 4G/LTE, which was an evolution of the old 2G and 3G networks, 5G is totally new internet service technology that’s been built from the ground up, allowing advancements that weren’t possible with the previous networks – think space-age applications like autonomous cars, connected machinery, and the Internet Of Things.

What improvement will we see with mobile internet?

There are 3 main areas we’ll see improvements in mobile data:

1. Faster Speeds: 5G networks will be capable of much higher speeds. While the exact speed will depend on a range of factors, the minimum speed users are likely to see is that similar or even faster to current fibre networks, think 10x – 100x faster than current 4G/LTE speeds.

2. Lower Latency: Latency is the time it takes to get a response from information sent; for example, the lag between the moment your guest swipes their credit card and the moment the internet server tells you that the payment has gone through. With 5G that time will be up to 40 times more responsive (i.e. faster) than your average 4G connection.

3. More simultaneous connections: 5G will allow more devices to connect to networks at the same time meaning, among other things, that slowdowns during peak usage times will be a thing of the past. The strong upwards trend of attendees streaming live using apps like Facebook Live, YouTube and Periscope won’t need to stress event producers out as they figure out ways to leverage the trend for promotion.

Live podcasting from SXSW 2019, presented by Patreon at the House of Creativity.

So what does 5G mean for events?

This is where we really start to get excited. 5G offers the potential for more streamlined production processes with greater capacity for interaction and immersive, high bandwidth experiences. It means that your internet will be able to handle almost any pie-in-the-sky production trick you can dream up – without having to roll in the satellite trucks (as long as you’re in a 5G coverage zone).

Here’s how you’ll see 5G impact events:

Video streaming with zero lag: The live streaming community is going to be a huge winner, with reliable, speedy internet for high definition streaming coming online at a tiny cost, compared with traditional solutions for streaming to TV and the internet. The event tech and marketing industry folks are going to be grinning too, with a world of streaming-related apps like Live.me already in development for live engagement from events. Imagine a concert where everyone is using their smartphone to film a performer and you, as an end user, can propagate that view through any one of those camera lenses. This means that people at home will be able to view the concert just as the crowd on the ground will; any angle, anywhere, instantly.

More personalised experiences: 5G will allow more scope to personalise every guest’s experience. For example, using a pre-event survey to create event paths with a different experience for each person as they receive tailored messages and recommendations based on their profession and interests. We love the SXSW GO app that used data from iBeacons to personalise guest experiences based on their GPS data, the time and the events they’d attended so far.

Lightning fast transactions: Faster cashless payments and ticket scanning will mean shorter queues, easier registrations and your guests being watered, fed and fully immersed in the experience at hand. This means no hangry (or worse – thirsty) guests at events, which is good for us all!

Smooth app based interactions: Faster speeds, reduced latency and more connections will mean SaaS product demos, ticketing, registrations, check-ins, mapping, directions and even interactive experiences like online bidding and popup podcasting will go off without a hitch.

More opportunities for augmented reality: Once a thing of science-fiction movies, augmented reality including AR devices, VR, mirror AR and now even transparent AR will become more and more viable. Use it for product demonstrations as Audi has done to save on transportation and set up costs, bring your event to life as the BBC did at their Frozen Planet exhibition or even extend the life of your event as Catalyst VRs Fan Cam does where sports fans can continue to create and share content long after the event is over.

Fully integrated experiences: If there’s one thing we love, it’s an event that takes guests on a journey from a real life experience to an online destination and seamlessly integrates them into their marketing channels without being invasive or spammy. Seeing it done well is like observing a work of art. Patreon did it brilliantly in their SXSW 2019 House of Creativity activation, which blended producing people’s in-person experience on mobile devices and in live podcasting booths, with the brand’s online marketing and data capture activities deepening relationships with potential Patreon users.

A quantum shift in the pricing paradigm for production internet: Get ready for the ability to do all the funky things that we’ve discussed above, without needing to bring in the former heavy hitters like satellite trucks (think $10-$20k days) to get the high production value jobs done. The new 5G world will be looking at pricing that starts at around the $2k mark, a massive win for producers in 5G-enabled areas, who will be able to do much more with much less – more frequently.

When is this all likely to happen?

As you can see from the examples above, we’re already starting to see glimpses of what will be possible. While we can’t say exactly when the full force of 5G’s capacity will be realised nationally, some cities are already online and the march continues steadily, with more and more CBDs joining the ranks.

PopUp WiFi units will be 5G-ready from mid-2019, so if you’re thinking big and have a cool internet-dependent idea in mind, get in touch with us. We’ll let you know if your event happens to be in a 5G area. If you can dream it, our gear will be able to do it.

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