At the heart of it, the Gigabit Era is about moving data around, and moving it around fast. This has profound implications for communications service providers and communications services in general.
#1: cloud-based communications
5G will further cloud the line between enterprises and service providers. It’s no secret more and more businesses are moving away from customer premise equipment to cloud-based communications platforms because of the ease-of-use advantages of this approach. However, as wireless speeds increase, specifically with 5G, more and more businesses will feel comfortable moving towards the cloud, not over a landline, but via the 5G wireless interface. This means not having to wait for your carrier to put in a trunk, which makes it even easier to move your business to the cloud.
#2: Artificial intelligence and big data
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This increase in speed and data capacity should also herald a spike in the mining of big data/artificial intelligence (AI) usage with basic communications applications, such as interactive voice response (IVR) and conference calls. Mining and AI take compute power. If access to that compute power is more readily available via 5G or “fiber everywhere” initiatives, then they’ll be utilized (assuming the price points make sense). So in 2019, we should begin seeing applications emerge that really take advantage of AI and data mining in general.
#3: The year of the video
Another impact of the increase in speed will be increased video usage. Yeah, I know, we hear this every year. “It’s the year of video!” So far, video has really impacted personal subscribers, but maybe it’s really time that it impacts the enterprise. If you are on LTE now, video is fine. But if it’s even faster, it will be great. And with enterprise smartphone clients enabling the PBX to be mobile, we should see an increase in video conferences via the Gigabit Era transport mechanisms, such as 5G.
#4: THE INTERNET OF THINGS
We should also see IoT becoming more embedded in traditional applications. IoT creates an enormous amount of data that needs to be moved around and analyzed, and the industry has created specific IoT applications (such as measuring sensors and meters) that add value. However, embedding IoT as an adjunct to an existing application should also start to occur in 2019.
#5: 'VALUE' INFRASTRUCTURE
Finally, we should see “value” move to the forefront. While this isn’t specifically tied to the Gigabit Era, I’m thinking back to what happened in 2009. Many of us remember the large recession at that time. It caused businesses to have to rethink and re-engineer to save money where they could. To me, this is part of what really made VoIP mainstream. Industries had been tinkering with VoIP but the recession was a real, compelling reason to change - they had to in order to save money and survive. And if in 2020 another recession occurs (as some predict), then a similar rethinking may have to occur. So “value” infrastructure will come to the fore. This is an infrastructure that can take advantage of the Gigabit Era, but also offer tremendous value. So maybe open source will come more to the fore, or communications solutions built on open source will come to the fore.
We’ll see what actually happens in 2019, but one thing is certain - there is incredible rapid change in the communications industry.