5G Will Give Startups a Boost, says Vodafone

21 June 2019

5G small business

As Vodafone opened its Digital Innovation Hub at MediaCityUK in Salford this week, the operator published a survey revealing that startups are excited about the potential of 5G and anticipate that the new wireless technology will give them a competitive edge.

Vodafone surveyed 508 startups and small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from a variety of sectors, including retail and hospitality; construction and trading; manufacturing; professional services; financial services; media and healthcare.

Of those surveyed, 60% said that 5G can help smaller companies better compete with more established rivals (above). And more than half said that 5G will transform the way they run their businesses and that they are more excited about 5G than any other enterprise technology.

The top benefits of 5G that startups perceive are faster speeds, greater coverage and more reliable and consistent network connections. As two-thirds (68%) said that connectivity has been critical for their business growth, enabling startups to adopt cloud-based applications to support remote working, customer service, human resources and finance operations, they are looking to 5G to provide even better, faster connectivity.

More than half of startups (59%) said they wanted greater bandwidth on their network and two-thirds said they wanted a faster network.

Clarity Needed about 5G

Benefits of 5G

While the survey found excitement among startups about 5G, it also revealed that they want to know more about the technology.

A third of respondents (34%) said they wanted to see proof of 5G’s benefits; 37% said they needed more information about the benefits; and 38% said they wanted clarity about when 5G will be available in the UK.

Startups Explore 5G

The report highlights three startups that are already working with 5G technology and how 5G will affect their businesses. For augmented and virtual reality startup Xpllore, 5G will encourage the creation of more VR content and enable better user experiences.

Xpllore Founder and CEO Chris Guerin said: “5G will give us the bandwidth we need to stream the VR apps from our cloud servers to the headset with very little latency. Without this, the user wouldn’t have the real-life experience we are aiming for, instead experiencing delays and poor quality visuals which can cause nausea and disorientation.”

Another UK startup experimenting with 5G is Birmingham-based Conigital, which uses artificial intelligence to support partly and fully automated vehicles at airports such as Manchester Airport. The company will benefit from the network slicing capabilities of 5G, which enables mobile operators to dedicate portions of their network to specific use cases and with specific performance parameters. 

A London-based interactive content and immersive app startup, Mativision, is working on delivering new live entertainment experiences as well as enterprise training and medical education. It has developed a 5G-ready immersive content delivery platform that will take advantage of 5G’s higher capacity and lower latency.

Anne Sheehan, Business Director, Vodafone UK said: “5G will change the way we live our lives. The creation of cleaner, smarter cities, improved digital healthcare services, automated manufacturing and cloud-based gaming are just some of the areas that will receive a boost from 5G’s improved mobile data speeds, responsiveness and greater capacity. We are committed to helping entrepreneurial small businesses and start-ups take advantage of this technology by making it widely available across the UK.”

Vodafone plans to launch 5G in seven UK cities on July 3, and roll out the services to a further 12 cities later in 2019. It will also launch 5G roaming in Italy, Germany and Spain this summer.

Michelle Donegan is a tech writer who has covered the communications industry for more than 25 years on both sides of the pond. Having worked for various industry titles, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and Light Reading, she specializes in mobile network technology trends. 

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