View from the Edge
How Digital Transformation is Driving 5G
As the world demands more data at the intelligent digital edge, we are seeing an ever-increasing demand for anywhere, everywhere mobile data services. It’s estimated that 70% of businesses will be completely mobile by 2020.
Multiple factors are driving digital transformation, the need for mobility, and, ultimately, 5G.
One is the rising importance of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) that offer multiple economic advantages in terms of hardware and management, particularly in large, high-speed enterprise networks.
There’s also the digitization of industry with the rocket-like growth in M2M (Machine-to-Machine) communications and IoT devices. A 2016 survey of 750 production managers by Boston Consulting Group found that 74% have implemented or plan to implement elements of the "factory of the future" within the next five years.
We are also transitioning from the third to the fourth industrial revolution that is changing the focus from digitization to using advances in communications and connectivity technologies to enable greater IoT, AI, smart buildings,
factories and cities, and who knows what else.
Every generation of cellular technology, or G as each is known, has brought with it a new level of technical excitement and expectations. Fifth-generation (5G) wireless is no different, but it promises more than any of its older relatives in terms of speed and capacity.
1G (1980s) was analog cellular with the throughput of a 14.4 Kbps dial-up modem. 2G (1993) for digital voice and data increased speeds to 64 Kbps. 3G (1998) provided substantial gains with speeds of 384 Kbps. 4G (2009) took a major leap forward with speeds of 100 Mbps and will continue to increase as 4G matures.
5G (trials: 2018–2019, full deployments: 2020+) will deliver unprecedented speeds of 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps (estimated) with the potential for 10 ms end-to-end latency. 5G brings a new spectrally efficient over-the-air protocol and new higher frequency spectrum bands (transmission of large volumes of voice, data, and video), as well as new core virtualized network functions, and new edge compute/storage capabilities. It will support massive quantities of devices and applications simultaneously. All of this means that 5G has an engine powerful enough to handle all types of applications including high-bandwidth video transmissions, conferencing, large web pages, and basically everything you can do on a high-speed wired network but previously couldn’t do on a wireless network. 5G is driving the fourth industrial revolution and will be a key enabler for the Internet of Things (IoT) by providing a platform to connect sensors, devices, and actuators at the edge from the factory floor, to smart cities, and beyond.
The Evolution of Cellular Technology
How Will 5G Affect My In-Building Wireless?
5G will bring its new spectrally efficient over-the-air protocol, as well as new core virtualized network functions, and new edge compute/storage capabilities to in-building wireless. The new higher frequency spectrum bands still need to be proven for indoor use. 5G will be able to support a broad mix of simultaneous users and applications. 5G will ultimately replace many wired connections and with reduced latency it will enable voice, data, video, collaboration—whatever users want to do. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, business IP traffic is projected to have a combined annual growth rate of 21% between 2016 and 2021. That involves a 20% growth in public Internet traffic, a 10% growth in managed (LAN/WAN) traffic, and a 41% growth in mobile data traffic.
The Impact of 5G
According to the World Economic Forum and its sources, here are some ways 5G can improve quality of life around the world. While some of these things are already in the works with 4G, 5G will make the interconnection of people and things everywhere with near zero latency possible. Some people believe 5G will be as revolutionary as electricity or the car.
- 5G will be up to 100 times faster than 4G. That means you will be able to download high-definition (HD) movies in seconds.
- 5G will enable phone batteries to last longer because 5G takes less time than 4G to complete a download. That will mean the device will last longer between charges.
- 5G will enable improved medicine with anytime, anywhere medical assistance. It has the potential to enable real-time control for remote surgery and the delivery of medical supplies in remote areas through connected drones.
- 5G will enable improved air-quality monitoring in cities enabling officials to respond quickly to hazards and inform residents on their smart devices.
- 5G will enable improved safety with the potential for remote controlled vehicles and machines to take the place of humans in dangerous places.
Deployment Challenges and Costs
A key challenge for deploying 5G technology will be the limited coverage of the new higher frequencies. They will cover up to 300 yards per cell site while the existing macro network (current 4G towers/sites) cover approximately 3 miles. 5G installations will be 10x more dense which will drive deployment costs (even with small cell technology) and initially limit deployment to high-density population areas.
Preparing for 5G
5G isn’t here yet, but it’s not too soon to start thinking about what you can expect from your in-building wireless in the future. We can help you:
- Examine your current mobility strategy
- Build and rationalize your mobility strategy
- Update your enterprise mobility management strategy
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