2020 saw a major increase in people’s reliance on online communication. With shares in Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams skyrocketing during lockdowns, the question of whether or not the internet should be considered a basic necessity has been front and center in many industries.

The events industry hasn’t been excluded from this debate. With many event planners and venue owners now facing the complication of operating under strict social distancing and capacity protocols, the events industry has had to become creative in order to remain competitive. Luckily, it’s an industry built on creativity.

With the introduction of a new technology in 5G, more options have opened up too. Conferences, conventions, summits and a host of other events once built around the benefits of in-person networking have moved online to great effect because of the rapid development of internet speed and bandwidth.

What is 5G?

5G is one of the latest and most innovative network technologies in the industry. Short for 5th Generation, it represents the youngest sibling of terms many people recognize: 4G or LTE, which most smartphones were equipped with prior to 2020 and the introduction of 5G.

The key difference and most marketed aspect of 5G technology is its exponentially faster internet speed capabilities. 5G was developed to reach network speeds of 110 gigabits per second, making it 100 times faster than its predecessor, 4G.

Since it is such a new technology, most 5G networks are only accessible in cities and larger towns as the network slowly rolls out to replace 4G and – in many places – the perennial 3G networks that were set up years ago.

How does 5G change the event industry?

5G technology comes at a time where many industries that deal specifically with human engagement are digitizing. Corporate spaces have replaced expensive boardroom meetings with online conference calls, therapists have moved to online sessions and hospitals are investigating software to aid with remote monitoring and digitized patient care.

As far as events industry goes, however, it may not always be enough to use online conference platforms as the be-all solution. For one, they can often lack the interior design, planning and aesthetics off in-person events – something event planners often build their reputation on.

But the faster interned speed and increased bandwidth of 5G gives professionals in the event industry more room to play around with online platforms. Lower latency means even planners can host more people on a call with lower drop-rates.

It also makes it easier to curate more seamless transitions between speakers and decreases the lag on bandwidth-heavy tools like screen sharing and recorded video calls. While this may not be the direct replacement for the aesthetics a physical venue allows, it does bring back one important element: it keeps people from feeling like they’re online.

Lag, latency and call drops are all reminders that – for now – human interaction is only as quick as one’s internet speed. But the faster the network, the more power is put back in the hands of event planners to create better online events that keep the focus on the people, the message and the feeling.

5G should be seen as the platform on which the event industry can recreate itself on digital platforms and spark some life back into the art of bringing people together.

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