SECTOR IN FOCUS:
5G & CONNECTIVITY
Image credit: © Blue Planet Studio - stock.adobe.com
After its launch by all four operators, 5G is here but how can businesses in 2020 take advantage and how should they prepare themselves.
It’s a slogan that we are all familiar with by now, 5G is here.
That’s, at least, what the providers would have you believe. However the revolution is far from being complete and although airwaves are available, use cases for the new signals are only theoretical.
Smart factories, cities and cars are often the scape goat used when the question of what we’ll use the new airwaves for arises but, as plausible use cases go in 2020, what can we expect?
“Much like with 4G backup and fibre broadband, resellers should introduce 5G as a productivity and business continuity technology” said Andy Horn, CEO of IntraLAN. “5G can also become the backbone of digital transformation, helping to provide the benefits businesses are searching for.
With so many businesses now offering remote working, 5G connectivity enables people to easily collaborate with their team by taking advantage of solutions that might have been unavailable on a poor connection outside of the office.
This is especially beneficial to sales teams and engineers working on client sites.”
When it comes to use cases, Andrew Dickinson, MD of Jola said that they are seeing a lot of retailers sign up for its mobile data product as a back up for its fixed line infrastructure.
“As 5G continues to roll-out, pre-Ethernet and mobile data backup will accelerate and 5G will take over as primary in some areas and applications – using multinet SIMs where a mobile backup is still required.
“Retail is one particular sector that has to make the most of the opportunity presented by the introduction of 5G. The widespread deployment of 5G will allow high-street retailers to develop new and creative ways of communicating with customers.”
PAUL MARSHALL – CCO & FOUNDER, ESEYE
The important thing for the reseller is that they can start to sell 4G now and it automatically upgrades to 5G as it becomes available. The only practical way to do this is to deploy the new multinet eSIMs that can be re-programmed over-the-air (OTA).
This avoids having to physically change the SIM for technological or network availability reasons. eSIMs can be programmed to be un-steered so that they always pick up the strongest signal or steered for technical or commercial reasons.
There are over 200 ISPs in the UK and all of them are interested in taking 4G/5G eSIMs at Layer 2 (L2TP). This is a huge untapped market. Fixed IP 4G/5G multinet eSIMs are a great alternative to traditional mobile data fixed IP products and Private APNs.”
Dickinson also argues that, as 5G matures, the connection technology will be used as a primary source of connectivity, in a similar vain to WiFi.
“Because of the limited coverage of 5G, practical use cases are limited to Private LTE and mobile broadband.
Similar to WiFi, a Private LTE/5G network leverages micro towers and small cells on-site. Some of the most interesting use cases highlight the benefit of 5G’s low latency rather than its extended bandwidth. For example, 5G sensors are used to monitor air quality in mines after blasting and operating machinery remotely so that work can continue until the air is clean enough for people to re-enter the environment.
5G will be ideal for any application where low latency is critical such as field surgery, push-to-talk radio, drone management and some tracking applications. Claims about 5G speeds vary wildly and proximity to a base station is much more of a factor with 5G because of the spectrum used.
“5G has the potential to transform any industry where the majority of staff are based on the road or away from the office or their homes such as couriers and logistics, construction workers, and repair and maintenance engineers”
ANDY HORN – CEO, INTRALAN
However, we know it will be at least 10x faster than 4G and this brings it into competition with FTTC and FTTP. Business centres usually prohibit tenants from bringing in their own direct internet access (DIA) and so they are already starting to use 4G instead.
This will accelerate as 5G rolls out and managed office space will see a valuable revenue stream disappear unless they reduce their rates or find a way to block mobile data signals.”
“5G has the potential to transform any industry where the majority of staff are based on the road or away from the office or their homes such as couriers and logistics, construction workers, and repair and maintenance engineers” added Horn.
“Connectivity has held back innovation but a 5G connection will enable drivers and outside workers to work efficiently, improve maintenance tracking, and monitor products and deliveries as they move through the supply chain.”
And how about further down the line? 5G has become synonymous with all sorts of innovative emerging technologies.
Chris Drake, technology analyst at Global Data said that 5G and edge computing innovations give us a glimpse into the future.
“Just last year, 5G mobile communications and edge computing were still unrealized technologies of the future, along with many of the digital services and applications they promise to enable such as autonomous cars, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
“Both the AT&T/Microsoft and the Verizon/AWS initiatives are still at the pilot stage and only available to a limited number of customers within limited geographies. AWS has a similar partnership initiative in Europe with Vodafone, which is also hosting AWS Wavelength at the edge of its 5G network to support new service innovation. It too, however, is currently limited in scope and will focus on the UK and Germany.
However Drake warned that it is still “early days” and that pricing will be a big issue to overcome.
“It is still early days to assess the wider market and competitive impact of these initiatives. 5G rollouts just began in 2019 and it will take several years for coverage to reach par with 4G long-term evolution (LTE) networks.
“The important thing for the reseller is that they can start to sell 4G now and it automatically upgrades to 5G as it becomes available. The only practical way to do this is to deploy the new multinet eSIMs that can be re-programmed over-the-air (OTA).”
ANDREW DICKINSON – MANAGING DIRECTOR, JOLA
The success of these initiatives in the long term will depend partly on the sort of new digital services and applications they go on to enable. Success will also depend on the business and pricing models that accompany new content and service innovations.”
“One area of concern is that all of the additional endpoints enabled by 5G make for an expanded threat surface, making operators and enterprises increasingly attractive and potentially lucrative targets of distributed denial of service (DDoS), man-in-the-middle and authentication attacks, and others” said Sanjay Bhatia, Vice President Solutions Marketing and Strategy, Ribbon.
“Given the enormous amount of data being collected and analysed, detecting threats will become a new art and science. New rules and software solutions will be required to filter out malicious network traffic, given the variety of policies that can be applied to highly customized traffic.
Operational technology and information technology teams will simply have more devices, more applications, more data, more voice and video sessions, and more transactions to secure."
Bhatia added that security also needs a mention when talking about embracing 5G. He said “as we prepare for 5G, it is essential to study the new security stack in advance of rolling out or receiving 5G services to ensure the security risks do not negate the huge benefits of 5G networking.
By understanding the evolving security landscape the new network brings, service providers and enterprises alike can take the steps necessary to manage increased threat surfaces and reap the benefits of 5G technology.”
Looking forward, Paul Marshall, founder and CCO of Eseye echoed the thoughts of Dickinson pointing to retail as an area that 5G will influence.
He said “It’s undeniable that the deployment of 5G will have a significant impact across all sectors, particularly for IoT, providing the next generation of connectivity for businesses and consumers alike.
But most importantly, as businesses become more familiar with the capabilities of 5G and how it can be integrated into IoT devices, increased connectivity allows offline businesses to compete with those already online.
Retail is one particular sector that has to make the most of the opportunity presented by the introduction of 5G. The widespread deployment of 5G will allow high-street retailers to develop new and creative ways of communicating with customers, whether that be through sending high-res images directly to consumers whilst they are in-store, or providing them with new innovative ways of purchasing products – this all adds to the enhanced customer experience that is crucial in their survival against the rise of e-commerce.
5G also provides the capability required to support the surging volumes of data being used by devices for video, and this requirement will only accelerate with the development and uptake of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) functionality.
Given the recent news that 2019 was the worst year for retail in the UK, retailers can now use these technologies to improve the customer experience and compete with the online shopping phenomenon.”