HiTech, LoFi Blog

What is 5g?: A Business Person's Guide

Key Lesson: 5G is a new revolution in the speed of mobile business and leisure

Key Action Point: consider how you might change your activities once you have mobile internet like your high speed home network connection

The Cellular Evolution

Cell phone networks work by using distributed cellular radio towers to act as “nodes” so that your phone can communicate over long distance, much like the millions of internet nodes act as intermediaries for messages streaming through the cables that connect us all together. Originally, cell phone signals used analog radio, more or less like radio waves that we used to listen to on our AM or FM transistor radios as gen-X kids. But analog signals are easily distorted and have no means to confirm their accuracy through error-checking, whereas digital signals fix these problems. Digital cellular signal types included CDMA and GSM, many of us early cell phone adopters recall these standards, and that phones on these networks did not always work when we travelled into areas not covered by the protocol we had. With digital modes came the ability to send digital information, and to use cell phones as wireless modems. Speeds were still very slow, so sending more than an email was tedious, and large files not even worth it. Of course, phones were still not yet “smart” and no one was zipping photos or dank memes through the ether, much less live video calls.

Next came 3G, which got us to 200 kilobytes per second, still not quite up to live video speeds, and then 4G brought us a near-revolution because suddenly we could send large files, stream low def video, and essentially do much of our work from our now laptop-quality phones (and phablets, countermanding the previously expected trend of ever-smaller phones). Coverage areas for 4G systems like LTE now include most cities worldwide, and it’s increasingly hard to find 3G phones that work most places. 2G coverage is disappearing and eventually, to stay in touch, everyone will need to consider getting at least a 4G phone.

Revolutionary speeds!

5G technologies are not just faster, but more flexible for carriers. They will bring home-speed internet quality to mobile networks and no doubt continue to allow us to evolve the ways we work. 5G actually comes in three versions for now, providing the flexibility for carriers to use bands that are available and uncluttered, but also involving some uncertainty about its speeds depending upon those choices. When you send densely-packet digital signals full of information over more than 1 kilometer, you start to need to compromise speed. Cell networks using the fastest of the three 5G bands need to pack their cell towers densely in order to maintain the very fast speeds that make 5G so revolutionary. This means that for suburban and rural customers, experiencing the blazing speeds of 5G will be a longtime coming yet. There are now upwards of 50 US cities that have some 5G coverage, but most of the country remains uncovered and will for a while.

Is it here yet?

Most phone manufacturers have not release 5G phones in the US market yet either, waiting until market demand due to networks actually being available begins to make the costs of market entry worthwhile. While many apps exist on our phones now that could happily chew through faster speeds, many expect the new technologies to drive the creation of new apps meeting market demands we haven’t even anticipated. Ideas ranging from live telemedicine, streaming games, augmented reality, or even new forms of film-making and journalism all powered by 5G devices are all on the table. Most anticipate that greater, faster connectivity means an even more mobile workforce, perhaps significantly altering the ways we work, sell, trade, and interact with our friends and families.

Autonomous vehicles, like driverless cars, will benefit from 5G, as will the “internet of things” (IoT) in which an increasing number of non-cellphone types of devices will be always connected to the internet. Freed from ethernet cables and wi-fi, IoT devices can interact with networks, provide greater awareness and interactivity, and free us to develop any number of new types of business and personal activities in an increasingly mobile world. Combined with artificial intelligence technologies, IoT networks of autonomous robotic devices will bring the flexibility of the interconnected world of the internet to every streetcorner.

Is it safe?

As with many new technologies, there are concerns about the safety of 5G networks. These concerns are not without grounding. Even radio towers, professional and amateur (like HAM radios) emit radiation that can harm you. When radio waves emanate from or are absorbed by an antenna, they create a charge. Never touch a powerful antenna because you can get burned. Cell towers are no different. Your cell phone’s transmissions aren’t enough to burn you, but the cell towers that receive and then rebroadcast signals can emit high powered radiation. Fortunately, unless you live with one in your bedroom, the dangers from that radiation are extremely minimal. Radiation dissipates according to Isaac Newton’s Inverse Square Law, making the chances of harms almost nil once one is a comfortable distance from a cell tower, like on the ground below the tower, rather than perched on the tower itself.

Making 5G work for your business

For most businesses the best way for you to take advantage of this next-gen tech is to upgrade your marketing and consumer connection. For example, blazing speeds mean more data more quickly, which means we can expect almost ubiquitous use of mobile devices for engagement with your brand and business. Bottom line: you will have an opportunity to position yourself ahead of your competition by ensuring your website, ads, and other customer facing content are built with mobile devices in mind. For other businesses - especially those with a sales force - training your team or customers via video conferencing will actually work and be a reliable method. In fact, there’s a good chance that training and education will occur in VR, fully immersive formats to give learners a more tactile learning experience. Finally, the faster speeds will allow companies to implement more complex cryptographic means of data security, which means more complexity in the backend and less complexity for the end user (think end of passwords, seamless screen passing between devices, etc) - be sure you’re consulting with experts to learn how you can incorporate this advantages into your current projects to avoid high upgrade charges in the future. With speed and data size no longer barriers, what you do to better serve your clients and customers is really only bounded by the limits of your imagination!

While 5G is still on its way, it will be here and rapidly spreading by the second half of 2020, with more availability, more devices, and as-yet untested new possibilities to improve and augment our business, leisure, and lives. It will be interesting to see where it leads!

Further Reading:

How M|M Developers can help:

We focus on partnerships with clients, building strong foundations of understanding along each step of the process of creating an online friendly business.

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Are Clouds Safe and Do I Need One?

Key Lesson: Cloud services are essential to modern online business

Key Action Point: Evaluate your services for whether clouds can be used, and how to use them securely

Most of us grew up saving our files on floppy disks, then hard disks (some of us remember cassette tape drives!) and found ourselves slowly, over time, depending on “cloud” storage accounts.
First with emails, when the numbers started piling up, choosing to use Gmail or other cloud email services with large capacities, and then eventually taking it for granted. No longer were we fully in control of our data, and increasingly, your work, even when it seems local, has some form of cloud backup. It sounds ethereal, like something you need not worry about. “Don’t worry, it’s in the Cloud.” So, are clouds safe, can I use them for more than my Gmail or other email service? Will I increase my risk of getting hacked?

What is “The Cloud”?:

Clouds are networked storage systems, simply. But they can also serve as virtual computers, servers1 that do more than store, but rather act upon information, compute, and fulfill any of the functions of the desktop or laptop you use every day. When you pay for web hosting services, as most of us do when we create websites (though you could, technically, serve a website from your stand-alone computer), website hosts run these sites via cloud services. Because the computing is done via clouds, replicating the functions of a computer via “virtual” machines, duplicating the data and processes is quick and inexpensive, so that a “computer crash” is unlikely to bring down the site. This is true also for web “services,” which are behind most of the sites you use, running programs that fulfill customer needs, even while all we tend to see is the user interface. Thousands of businesses pay Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to use their cloud computing and hosting platforms, meaning they can save the costs of hardware for running complex computer code, or even simple websites. Because of the decreasing cost of storage and computing in clouds, they can be highly cost-effective for moving business processes online without investing in new machines.

A cloud, like the internet itself, uses the distribution of resources to avoid downtime and help to secure data and processes, but like the internet it presents us with some new vulnerabilities. Thieves who would have had to break into your house to take your floppy disks to see what was on them now need not leave their homes to access insecure data via the internet. The same is true for data and programs running in the cloud.

1 What is a Server? (1 minute video) Quick Answer: a computer that is linked to other similar "computers" with the ability to do stuff on those other "computers." To highlight a difference: if you want a file from your friend's computer you have to wait for your friend to give you the file (email, airdrop, Google Docs, etc.). However, if a server wanted a file from another server it can access it 'directly'. This is a rough, but effective analogy.

Out of Your Hands:

The benefits of clouds, including their robustness against failures, come with some risks. Connection to the internet means that, theoretically, anyone can find a way to try to access your data, software, accounts, etc. There have been some alarming publicly-disclosed cases of breaches for major cloud-based tools, notably the Yahoo email breach, reported in 2016 but committed in 2014. Yahoo eventually admitted that all of its nearly 3 billion accounts had been affected, and the cause was failing to update security protocols that would have made it harder to crack encrypted passwords. The Yahoo lesson hit home, mostly, and most cloud providers are quite secure, only breached generally through failure to properly protect login info, and not generally through high-powered, hardcore hacking (see how to avoid phishing attacks in the "further reading" section below). Your information is only as safe as those you entrust it to keep it. No provider is totally safe (here is a list of breaches over time), and there are things you can do to protect your data and services in the cloud, including always using two-factor (2FA) identification and notifications so you can help prevent and catch breaches before they harm you.

Cloudy, With a Chance of Disruption:

Clouds are basically unavoidable if you are going to do business in the 21st Century, and at some point you will need to embrace them. Because of their distribution, relative security, and overall integrity, they can help you spin up new businesses online with a minimum amount of costs, and in relative safety.

Further Reading:

How M|M Developers can help:

We focus on partnerships with clients, building strong foundations of understanding along each step of the process of creating an online friendly business.

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Should I Put My Business Online?

Key Lesson: Strategic use of the online world pays dividends

Key Action Point: Look for inefficiencies in your business and decide if they can be solved with improved communication or interconnectivity…

We are 25 years into the internet revolution and many businesses are still not taking advantage of the efficiencies and opportunities that the internet gives us. Most of us are familiar with the need to have a web site, and many realize that the website can incorporate some features of every-day commerce, but to what extent is it possible to move most if not all of one’s business activities online and more-or-less do away with the need for physical office space and infrastructure, or at least cut my costs significantly?
While it largely depends on the type of business you run, there are many options for streamlining any operation by taking advantage of the internet. Let’s look at options for workforce, sales & marketing, and settlements that exist and are easy to adopt, and that may help any business realize increased efficiency and thus profits.


We all know the term “gig economy” and associate it with Uber and other ride services primarily. But all sorts of jobs have been able to be farmed out to gig workers, freeing them to work anywhere they happen to live, and for business to contract for their services as needed and without much of the overhead involved with hiring a staff member. Sites like FlexJobs.com, Freelancer.com and others offer a marketplace for gigs for both employers who need labor, and those looking to supplement their incomes. Many such sites are free to join, and by browsing them you can get a sense of what sorts of tasks you, as an entrepreneur, can reasonably outsource to skills creators. Offloading piecework to specialists is an age-old method of running a business and frees you, as a business-owner, of tasks that are not necessarily optimal for you to perform. Meanwhile, you can concentrate more on creativity and decision-making at a higher level.

Sales & Marketing:

As business owners, we know that we are constantly selling; besides fundraising (which is best accomplished in the long term by selling), making people aware of your products or services is our primary job. Luckily, when you sell online, there are numerous tools that help you keep your brand in front of people who would likely be interested in it. Besides marketing on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, each of which are better for certain audiences than others, Google Ads can help you easily create banner ads that are served for users matching most closely your business’s customer profile, for mere pennies per impression. Unlike ads in traditional media, Google’s algorithms help you make sure your ads reach only those people who would most likely follow through and click into your site, and because they can click through, they can take action and more likely become your customers. A single person can often run a simple online marketing and sales strategy from a cell phone, leaving more time for in-person contacts and creative adaptation to changing business needs.


Business doesn’t ultimately amount to much until someone pays you, and paying for things over the internet continues to become easier for everyone, and makes settling your accounts increasingly easy. Checks bounce, credits cards get declined, cash is pretty much useless for most internet transactions, but many trustworthy options are available. PayPal has certainly become a well-established brand and tool for payments online, but numerous competitors exist, including Stripe, Arygle, Braintree, as well as Google and Amazon solutions. Each of these simplify and automate much of the work of getting paid for delivery of products and services, and require little more than using a simple portal online to track payment histories and download CSV files for your accounting. Finally, as the cryptocurrency laws and rules become more standardized, expect solutions like Coinbase and Gemini to become useful for accepting and sending payments using bitcoin and other cryptos. We will delve into the advantages of these in upcoming posts.

See what parts of your business could be streamlined by moving them online, get ideas from the three categories discussed above, and check out the solutions mentioned. If you know of others, send us an email or Tweet @_techtranslator!

Further Reading:

How M|M Developers can help:

We focus on partnerships with clients, building strong foundations of understanding along each step of the process of creating an online friendly business.

Let's Connect

The Empirical Business

Key Message: Using data to inform your decisions makes your failures meaningful and fewer

Action Point: Figure out what is most important to your business and find a way to measure it empirically

Building lasting things takes time, and failures abound. Famously, Thomas Edison tried about a thousand different materials before he found the best one for his light bulb. When a reporter’s question suggested that he had failed 1000 times before succeeding, Edison remarked instead that he hadn’t failed 1000 times, but that the light bulb was an invention involving 1000 steps. This is the empirical method, the basis of modern science and progress. Try, try again until you get it right. And then the thing that works is what you do until it no longer works, then you come up with something new and try that.

The empirical business succeeds the same way. Let’s face it, markets are often quite mysterious, and innovating is always a big risk that is often met with failure. In the empirical method, each failure is a step and taken this way offers us a chance to move forward even if it feels like we have moved backward or hit a brick wall. Faced with new evidence, like the failure to gain traction in the marketplace, or even outright rejection or poor customer feedback, we have choices that include: giving up and moving on, or pivoting.

Some of the biggest business successes were about to fail until they pivoted. Others, who failed to change course even as history and evolving markets showed their business models to be in trouble, or even doomed, are now lost in history -- footnotes in the log of startups that came and went. Even large-scale, blue-chip businesses can disappear as the winds shift, and they must be prepared to take in the evidence, evaluate it, and adjust. The empirical business is driven by:

  • Data, as much as passion, with the understanding that data overrides passion
  • Constant review and feedback loops to identify change in the marketplace
  • Adaptability, to use incoming new evidence to adjust or even radically change their approach

Of course, passion, drive, vision, and ideals should motivate us in everything we do, but no amount of these can overcome evidence and facts. The empirical business keeps an eye on the data, the facts, and the evidence and uses these to constantly steer their operations, and to adjust course as necessary. Twitter only exists today because they saw what iTunes had in store for the podcast market (which it was, at the time, solely focused on) and dumped their entire business plan to become the world’s premier micro-blogging site. Edison’s 1000 steps toward the carbon or tungsten filaments that lit our world for a century are a model of perseverance and attention to evidence, bending preconceptions and ideals to fit the facts rather than vice versa, and success in revolutionary and profitable change. Our lesson, from this evidence, is to try always to do likewise.

If you’d like to see a follow up on this leave a comment below! We can detail how to do this if it would be helpful.

Further Reading:“Lean Analytics” by Croll & Yoskovitz; “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries

How M|M Devs Can Help: One of the biggest advantages of us building your website and/or handling your social marketing is that our CEO can provide guidance on critical data to track, then implement custom means of tracking each critical metric to drive substantial and rapid growth.