5G: shaping the future of connectivity

It is true to say that when many people think of 5G they think only of mobile – 5G networks for mobile users have been around since 2019 and, whilst availability is still limited, the benefit of faster speeds is widely known. However, there is another side to 5G, less visible and often untapped by businesses, which is accelerating quickly - the 5G enabled network. By Stephen Bates, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, M247

According to McKinsey Digital, 127 new devices hook up to the internet every second and by 2025 there will be 31 billion connected devices and 180 zettabytes of data (Statista). This growth has accelerated at unprecedented during the Covid-19 pandemic, as digital transformation strategies were quickly implemented in response to the changing work environment. Businesses had to ensure that data and applications could be accessed in a timely and secure manner from multiple locations, accelerating a shift towards the Cloud.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says the company has seen two years of digital transformation in just two months as its customers have started to adopt cloud solutions, with 81% of companies accelerating their cloud plans over this period (Devo Technology).

But even before Covid-19 hit the headlines, this anticipated explosion of devices and data was the main driver behind the creation of 5G. This revolution in connectivity has been specifically designed to connect everyone and everything including machines, objects and devices. Not only are 5G enabled networks ideally suited to our current ways of working but, as a more mobile workforce is here to stay and connected devices continue to proliferate, 5G is set to shape the future of connectivity forever.

We have seen in the companies signing up to our 5G enabled network that harnessing the capabilities it offers not only brings significant operational improvements, but these efficiencies can offer a competitive advantage. However, low-awareness levels as to the size and scale of the benefits it can bring runs the risk of businesses potentially being left behind.

With 5G, service providers and resellers will need to adopt their business models as they extend their capabilities to include new product offerings. The explanation as to what 5G can enable requires a level of expertise and understanding, giving Channel the opportunity to be a trusted partner to business starting their transformation journey.

Raise awareness of the benefits of 5G

Continuing to champion the 5G benefits story for customers and industry will increase the speed of change and adoption, increasing industry-wide appreciation, understanding and adoption. Business technology strategies are evolving to reflect this change and the key benefits it brings.

1.Speed:

This is the most widely known benefit - 5G is 100 times faster than 4G. This exponential increase in speed delivers a step change in capability and performance, including file transfer speeds, performance of remote applications and quality of streaming.

2.Ultra-Low Latency:

With 5G, data ‘packets’ are delivered from one place to another with the lowest levels of delay. Apart from eliminating things like lagging video, it opens brand new possibilities for automation, IoT connections and safety critical systems ranging from industrial settings to driverless cars. Real-time delivery of Voice services is a key enabler of the planned PSTN switch off due in 2025, when businesses will be required to move to VoiP services.

3.Greater Bandwidth / Device Density:

Estimates say the devices per Square KM will rise from 2,000 on 4G, to a staggering 1,000,000 on 5G Networks. This means the number of parallel activities and connected devices on one network or in one area can rocket, removing concerns about too many devices causing underperformance, giving businesses new options and massive scalability.

Furthermore, the ability to switch between fixed and wireless technologies will get easier over time, making the concept of smart homes, smart offices and smart cities a reality.

Put the opportunities in context

These opportunities are not just an aspiration for the future – they are real and available now. The first 5G Hospital made headlines recently but it is important that businesses also see more relatable use cases. For example:

•Remote Working and Business Continuity Planning are early applications.

Many software companies see 5G as a key backup for connectivity for their remote workforce, in some cases even as the primary method due to its exponentially greater speed and capacity than its predecessor. It can also be used to supplement an SD-WAN connection.

•Device Density will make IoT Connected Devices explode

With 5G, enterprise networks can host vast numbers of devices in their IT infrastructure, all of which can undertake simultaneous data transfer thanks to the network’s larger spectrum band, meaning network underperformance is a thing of the past. According to the Vodafone IoT Spotlight Report, 84% of businesses said that IoT was essential to their survival during the pandemic, driving increased network expectations in speed, accessibility and security.

•Data is power - 5G opens up Big Data, Analytics, Automation and AI

Expect the opportunities and amounts of data captured by businesses to explode, enabling more sophisticated data analytics and large-scale data mining. This is turn will feed the training of Artificial Intelligence systems, opening wide opportunities for increased automation. This is also placing data management and backup strategies at the centre of business strategy planning, to ensure protection and recovery plans are in place to protect business operations and the growing volume of stored data.

Making the Case

We have seen how 5G is so much more than speed and quality – it is a step change that will drive new opportunities and new business capabilities. Making the case means helping businesses to see how it can specifically drive their business and their opportunities. The recent surge in digital transformation is helping to raise awareness of automation and intelligent technologies, how they are transforming services and reinventing the customer experience. I see huge opportunities in the ability of our Channel partners to take businesses on this 5G enabled journey.

5G is still a new story and awareness is a key part of the emerging influence of 5G on business transformation. Businesses need a fully developed strategy in order to secure the right levels of investment and executive support. With clear goals, quantifiable benefits, fully costed plans and return on investment, the journey will deliver huge benefits.

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