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5G is the next mobile leap in technology. It will reshape how we use our mobile devices and 5G at events is going to be a huge deal. Do you remember when we all had flip phones with green and black screens? If you downloaded anything (and there wasn’t much to download!) it would take forever. With great improvements in tech, we moved on to smartphones and 4g allowing us to be connected to pretty much anything we desired in the palm of our hands. And now comes the announcement of 5G at Mobile World Congress. So what does 5G have to do with events? More than you might imagine.

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In today’s episode, Will Curran and Brandt Krueger have a very interesting conversation about mobile advancements and  5G at events. They will discuss how 5G could revolutionize the industry. Will and Brandt will also debate about the ways it will change WiFi at events, virtual attendance, and more. They will also discuss folding phones and their uses at events.  If you are curious how 5G at events will change the game listen below!

Click here for the full audio transcription.

Short on Time? We discuss the highlights from the episode below!

5G at Events

A Brief History of Mobile Speeds

The Beginnings

In 1983 the cell phone was introduced to the public. The first generation of technology allowed for communication to be possible without any landline by using a cellular network. While it was an amazing leap the phones left a lot to be desired. They had a battery life of 30 minutes, were the size of a brick, and coverage was spotty at best.

The 2nd Generation 

2G came out in the early 1990s. This technology allowed for text messaging, and clearer digitally encrypted conversations. You were also now able to download a picture but at these speeds, it took forever, WhistleOut reports “when 2G came out, the speed was about 9.6kbit/s. If you wanted to download a nice picture, it would take about 3 minutes.” 

Beginnings of a Smart World 

3G took the world by storm in 2003 with speeds up to 4 times faster than 2G. 2G paved the way for the smartphone era. People could now download photos, songs, and information instantly. In this episode, Will tells the story fondly of when 3G launched “I remember this was when I first bought the iPhone which was when it came out in 3G, which was a big jump up from .3 megabits per second to 7.2 megabits per second. Like, that is a humongous jump in terms of speed. And I remember for the first time I ever, this is when I knew the future was here, as I tune into it in a radio station while driving down the freeway, and was pulling music from the air. I mean, just like absolutely mind-blowing to me.”

4G Changes Everything 

4G is the current standard in mobile and was launched in 2010 by Sprint. Speeds went from 7.2 megabits per second to about 150 megabits per second. This changed everything! 4G allowed gaming, video calls, the ability to download a song in seconds, video streaming, event apps and so much more.

The Future of Mobile 

5G was announced at the Mobile World Congress in late February 2019. 5G promises dramatically faster connections, which are likely to replace your home internet. As with all past mobile advancements, 5G will also usher in new technologies. According to The WeekThe dramatically faster connectivity they promise with 5G could unlock an array of technologies, from autonomous cars that share traffic data to immersive virtual reality games. It’s not just a phone technology: It could replace wired broadband in the home and allow for billions of other connected devices.” To say the least, this technology will be a game-changer and revolutionize the world in more ways than we can currently comprehend.

What is the impact of 5G at Events?

Now that we’ve covered a brief history of mobile speed and technology, what will be the impact of 5G at events?

Impacts on Transportation

Brandt Krueger believes it could impact event transportation “some of the things that are being bandied around about what this 10 fold jump in speed is going to do for us is things like car to car communication. So, being able to very, very quickly- ’cause it’s the speed, right? It’s being able to get information from vehicle to vehicle very quickly as they’re driving down the road saying, “Whoa, there’s an accident up there, we’re all gonna need to slow down.” And then the things that are gonna more directly impact- So that could potentially impact the transportation side of things.”  

Advancements in Video 

Will Curran sees a place for advancement in video “with a huge increase in bandwidth when it comes to video content, too. Like 4K, you can do 4K pretty decently on a 4G connection, but now it’s you know, you’re gonna watch videos instantaneously on your phone all day long, and with everyone moving more towards video, I mean we’re just gonna see it where high-quality cameras on your phone plus 5G plus all this means that people are gonna scream for great quality video, now.”

Could Replace WiFi at Events

This technology is supposed to have speeds 10x as faster than 4G. This means 5G at events will likely replace WiFi at events, though not likely to happen anytime soon. There would need to be infrastructure in place to support 5G and these rollouts take time. There is also the question of if venues will welcome 5G or try to avoid it as charging for WiFi brings in a great deal of revenue. 

Enhances Virtual Experiences 

Virtual Reality could also be on the rise.

Brandt Krueger excitedly explained “virtual and augmented reality is gonna be so fast, and such high quality that you’ll be able to stream it, almost instantly. So as we start to think about our virtual audiences, and not just being able to sit in front of a desktop and watch a little window into the live event world. Really being able to pop on a full VR rig and be there as part of the event. And really have that feeling in real-time. I mean, God knows, we’re still struggling when it comes to our virtual audiences with the lag that comes between what people are saying in the room and trying to get audience response questions and things like that. We’re still at a solid 30 second lag on a lot of that stuff. And that can be just brutal if you’re trying to actually engage that audience.”

5G at Events

When Will These Changes Take Place?

While 5G will start rolling out this year it will take years before we truly see the full effects and changes of this tech. “Some experts don’t see strong 5G in the U.S. until 2023 — and say paying an extra $200 to $300 for a 5G-enabled phone will be wasted money until then.” 

Brandt believes it will be years and years until we see the innovation fully roll out, “I’m really fascinated by what’s gonna come down. And it’s not gonna be you and I that are coming up with this stuff. It’ll be the next generation of coders and kids that are coming up and figuring out ways to take advantage of it. It’s always the ones that are the second generation when it comes to internet and technology. It’s gonna be the ones that are steeped in it, that are the ones that come up with something new and exciting. So, that’s what I’m looking forward to. And that’s gonna be 15 years down the road. It’s not gonna be now.”  

This is because with 5G comes a new type of technology needed to use it. The transmitters will need to be placed closer together at a higher volume. The current infrastructure of mobile technology does not support it. So, in short, we don’t know when 5G at events will start rolling out, but the future looks promising. There is no doubt that 5G will revolutionize the events industry from streaming to transportation we can only imagine what the future holds.


While it’s unclear what the future holds for 5G at events, it looks bright. With advances in technology, we are sure to see even better events. What are you looking forward to most with 5G at events? Comment below and let us know. 


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Brandt Krueger

Author Brandt Krueger

With over 20 years experience in the meetings and events industry, Brandt has spoken at industry events and seminars all over the world, been published in numerous magazines and websites, and teaches public and private classes on meeting and event technology and production. He provides freelance technical production services, and is the owner of Event Technology Consulting.

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