For many organizations, the next generation of mobile technology starts later this year—when wireless carriers launch their first 5G networks.
Once deployed, 5G connectivity will enable employees to communicate and transfer data at least 10 times quicker than today’s most advanced mobile devices do. While this creates new business opportunities, it also means most global mobility programs have their work cut out over the next few months.
So, what do companies need to know about 5G? And how do they prepare themselves for upgraded mobile connectivity in 2018?
Using enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), these next-gen networks will help workers move data at lightning fast speeds. Even more important, however, is 5G’s ability to reduce latency - the time it takes for data requests to be acknowledged. Experts predict 5G will make data responses 50 times faster than those of today’s strongest networks, improving the odds organizations will leverage advanced mobile technologies and applications going forward.
This means companies who don’t use modern office innovations like video conferencing and Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR) may need to reconsider their technology policies. Reliable connectivity and more efficient mobile network bandwidth will enable teams to take advantage of communication channels and information management approaches that weren’t viable a few years ago.
If successfully prepared, 5G will also help organizations integrate advanced mobile endpoints—like the Internet of Things (IoT)—into inefficient tasks and workflows. Technologies like smart conference rooms, automation, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will maximize workforce productivity while simultaneously improving employee satisfaction and work-life balance.
By empowering technology support efforts in locations where connectivity is inadequate and/or inconsistent, companies can leverage 5G to increase worker collaboration. Leveraging 5G-compatible devices also means data-heavy processes and projects can be easily coordinated, and that today’s digital voice and video streaming headaches will be problems of the past.
IoT and AR/VR
For the first time, IoT and AR/VR devices will communicate across mobile networks designed specifically with these innovations in mind. 5G creates the potential for real-time customer interactions and data feedback capable of revealing unknown trends, allowing enterprises to maximize the return on advanced mobile endpoint investments.
Despite 5G’s increased mobile network bandwidth, organizations still need to exercise caution when deploying these digital transformation drivers. While connectivity will undoubtedly become more stable, these technologies still lack a standardized, industry-wide security protocol. Until these inherent issues are addressed, expect hackers to increase cyberattacks on these vulnerable enterprise data sources moving forward.
Real-Time Cloud Synching
Cloud storage systems will also benefit greatly from the mobile network enhancements 5G is sure to create. Since this technology can process cloud data instantly, these systems will always be updated—removing the possibility of downtime and delays caused by today’s large data files and transfers. For mobile technology-empowered employees, this means virtually unlimited data storage, as well as access to impressive processing power wherever they travel.
Unfortunately, this also means attackers could potentially access an even larger amount of enterprise data should they bypass an organization’s mobile technology protections. In addition to implementing a Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solution to protect devices and data, 5G-enabled businesses should enforce policies like multifactor authentication and remote data wipes to ensure employee endpoints are protected should they fall into the wrong hands.
While most of the attention has been focused on 5G’s potential to create higher network capacities and speeds, network slicing could become this technology’s most valuable application. Because virtualization will impact these upgraded network’s Radio Access Networks (RANs) and Electronic Power Controls (EPCs), organizations will be able to combine improved Quality of Service (QoS) standards and new IP network traffic engineering methods to create separate mobile networks across shared infrastructure.
Soon, this means businesses may even be able to contract wireless carriers to create their own customized, purpose-built 5G networks. Service provides will have the ability to turn a single physical network into multiple virtual instances—optimizing support by streamlining services and IT resources across different user populations and privileges, not to mention enhancing enterprise capabilities when targeting specific audiences with exclusive products/services.
Proceed with Caution
There is abundant hype being spun about 5G, and the source for much of it is mobile carriers. These carriers are not frothing the market, though; they do it to keep their competition guessing. After all, 5G is a big gamble for these providers. While there is certainly a first mover advantage, there is also risk of stranding capital on an undefined portion of 5G. In time, 5G will usher in new possibilities; today, however, bear the following points in mind:
There is no accepted frequency band for 5G. 3.5 GHz will probably lead the way, but not without significant deployment variations.
5G does not have a widely accepted definition—especially on a global basis. US mobile carriers are drawn to 5G’s potential as a complement to fiber services, whereas Europe sees it in terms of a mobile broadband service. Meanwhile, China is focused on 5G’s applicability in Machine-to-Machine (M2M) endpoints. Because the definition varies, 5G operational claims may vary from one part of the world to another.
There is no shared mobile carrier timeline for 5G network deployments. Instead, carriers will likely focus on 5G’s capacity play and deploy their technologies according to dense user sets.
5G will exist for quite some time on top of the 4G subscriber base, therefore relying on the economics of mobile broadband for the first several years of its life.
5G’s ability to aggregate spectrum and serve dense populations is enticing for carriers. Nevertheless, there is no solid global carrier business case yet.
While each business has its own unique concerns and challenges, one thing is certain: 5G will revolutionize traditional workplace technologies and disrupt every global industry. There’s never been a better time than now to create a formal strategy for tomorrow’s mobile connectivity needs.