2019 Is The Year Of 5G: Benefits And Preparation

Enterprises Must Prepare For It Now

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Steven Lerner

Ready or not, 5G is here. 2019 is slated to be the year when carriers unleash the 5th generation of mobile communications into the enterprise. In December 2018, AT&T became the first U.S. carrier to offer the new mobile service (albeit the service was only available through hotspots in select cities, and the speed was initially criticized).

In March 2019, the first mobile specifications for the service are projected to be released. By the end of the year, all U.S. carriers will likely offer the service, and some device manufactures will probably release phones for it.

Jack Gold, president and principal analyst with J. Gold Associates, recently predicted that the next generation of mobile communications will penetrate the enterprise in 2019 but it will mostly be available in select areas. This includes, “a plethora of smartphones sporting 5G modems.” The rollout of this service will occur through most of 2019 and into the following year.

In December 2018, a Gartner survey revealed that 66% of organizations will deploy 5G by 2020. Enterprises say that they are going to adopt it, but it is really dependent on the capabilities of carriers.

“It’s really all about when the carriers, and device providers will support 5G,” said Chris Grubbs, an enterprise mobility product owner. “As an enterprise, we are dependent on both the carriers and the device manufacturers to provide the solution.”

Meanwhile, all of the major carriers have already pledged to make the new service a priority in 2019.

“We’ll make sure America wins the global 5G race,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere testified during a U.S. Senate panel in June 2018. “5G will unlock capabilities that will fuel job creation and innovation well beyond what we have seen so far.”

Benefits Of 5G In The Workplace

There are numerous opportunities from the new service that could transform enterprise mobility, including faster speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second on each device. Latency issues will also be noticeably reduced on networks with the new service, with some projections saying it will be diminished to a single digit millisecond. The combination of faster speeds and decreased latency will empower enterprises to improve productivity, especially with mobile workers.

The previously cited Gartner survey found that the most popular use case for 5G in the enterprise is with the Internet of Things (IoT). The capabilities of the newest generation of mobile communications could fuel the deployment of IoT devices and applications. The IoT market is expected to double by 2021, with a faster mobile service as one of the main catalysts for the expansion.

By leveraging the latest generation of mobile communications for IoT, enterprises across numerous industries will reap the benefits. The most significant example will be in the transportation industry, where connected vehicles will experience faster communication services that improve safety and support autonomous driving. In manufacturing, sensors will able to collect critical data at a faster rate, which could improve supply chain efficiencies.

What Does 5G Preparedness Look Like?

In order to fulfill the promise of 5G, enterprises need to prepare. Even if the rollout of the service is months away, the preparations must begin immediately if they haven’t started already. Some enterprises will claim to have already achieved 5G preparedness, but if they haven’t reached out to carrier partners, they aren’t fully ready yet.

“Prepare by working with your carrier partners and device manufacturers to understand their roadmaps,” said Grubbs. “These partners also should be able to provide estimates for cost of service and devices, for budgeting.”

There are a few challenges that need to be addressed in order to be ready for the new service. The first issue is to review potential roadblocks with the current wired network infrastructure, which includes an analysis of the fiber service plans and LANs. There are also financial hurdles that could arise with the new service, which means an enterprise may want to prepare for potential mobile network cost increases.

One way for enterprises to prepare for the new service is by leveraging mobile edge computing (MEC), which is an essential component of 5G, enabling devices to store and access higher volumes of data via a direct connection. Additionally, there could even be cases of enterprises turning to virtual networking architecture, such as network slicing, to truly take advantage of the new technology.

To summarize, in order for 5G to change the workplace, enterprise mobility leaders must first have a plan in place to harness the new capabilities.