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Infrastructure and Operations

Ready or Not, Here Comes 5G

After years of talk, 5G technology is finally on the horizon--will enterprises care enough to dial-in?

If the number of wireless services providers and 5G-ready devices are any indicator, the fifth-generation mobile telecommunications standard is well on its way to adoption, or at least so says Cristiano Amon, president at Qualcomm. Amon told Bloomberg that during when the 4G launch was at the same 5G is at now, there were only two wireless operators and four devices ready.

“Today, there are 20 operators and 30 devices,” Amon told Bloomberg. “It’s a proxy for how much faster 5G is going to get deployed.”

Of course, there’s enormous potential for 5G to change the nature of consumer services, such as phone form factors, online gaming, and perhaps be a catalyst for additional cable television and broadband cutting. But what’s the enterprise potential?

While Amon had no comment on the discussion of various national bans on Huawei 5G infrastructure equipment, he did say the infrastructure debate is a sign that 5G is beyond mobile, and is going to be critical to wireless infrastructure, including enterprise, because it’s going to be “powering everything around us”

Is that hyperbole? Cisco CEM Chuck Robbins obviously doesn’t think so. At Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2019 this week, Robbins touted 5G’s enterprise capabilities and the need for scalable secure, reliable, software-defined networks.

While commercial deployment is likely a couple of years away, enterprises are looking at potential 5G use cases from high-speed broadband, connected healthcare, industrial IoT, and connected vehicle fleets, augmented reality, and more.

“There’s definitely a lot more interest about pushing decision-making out to the edge, and a of that interest is being driven by the anticipated high speeds brought by 5G,” said Andrew Storms, VP of Security Services at services provider and consultancy New Context.

In the column The 5G Enterprise Conversation, Karl Whitelock is quoted as saying that perhaps the real killer app in the enterprise is “enablement.”

AT&T’s VP of Enterprise Mobility, Robert Boyanovsky added, “When you when you start talking about multi-gigabit speeds, there’s a value in that. Imagine being a Boeing engineer … trying to wire a fuselage. You could get out your scroll, right, and figure out that the red wire terminates at the yellow bolt … or you could drop on your set of mixed reality goggles, walk through the fuselage and the schematic is overlaid on top of what you’re seeing.”

While augmented reality is a top 5G use case, according to the market research firm Gartner, enterprises are most interested in the impact of 5G on IoT communications and video, with the hopes of both increasing operational efficiency. By next year, 66 percent of organizations plan to deploy 5G, Gartner predicts.

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