After years of hearing about the promise and potential of 5G wireless technology, we’re finally starting to see some actual progress. Major smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and Motorola have all recently released 5G-capable phones, and providers like Sprint and Verizon in the U.S. have rolled out the first phase of their 5G networks.
Most experts anticipate it will take another few years for 5G to truly realize its full potential. Nevertheless it’s safe to say the 5G era is officially here. And forward-thinking businesses should take note.
The high-level benefits of 5G are clear: Blazing fast speeds up to 10Gbps and ultra-low latency. For an average consumer, that means downloading an HD movie in five or six seconds as opposed to 10 or 15 minutes on a 4G network.
For the world of business, the possibilities are truly staggering. According to a study by Qualcomm, 5G is expected to boost global GDP by $3 trillion and generate 22 million new jobs between 2020 and 2035.
Here’s a quick look at two significant ways 5G is expected to radically transform the business world.
One of the most ground-breaking aspects of 5G is its ability to allow network slicing, also known as private networks or differentiated networks. In a nutshell, this allows a business to create multiple networks over the same 5G signal, and dedicate each one to either a specific set of users, type of devices, or based on critical business functions.
This not only gives businesses more control over their networks, instead of relying on public internet, it also offers more flexibility. A company’s fleet of business-critical remote sensors, for instance, could be dedicated to a network slice that offers the highest possible speeds and lowest possible latency, while the company’s employee smartphones are dedicated to another network slice with lower priority.
Network slicing also promises to simplify and streamline the world of remote working, as off-site workers can simply connect to a dedicated company network slice, rather than hassling with VPN access and multi-factor authentication tokens.
Multi-access edge computing
5G is making its move at just the right time, as other complimentary technological advancements are already in place, such as cloud computing. The major drawback with cloud computing, however, is transferring large amounts of data over long distances. This is why Netflix has data centres all over the world, in an effort to store movies closer to where people are streaming them.
5G will help on this front as well, by enabling multi-access edge computing. This means high volumes of data can be processed in real-time closer to where the end-user is, rather than sending all data to a centralized location further away. This lowers latency and eases the burden on data centres.
When you consider the growth and pace in the number of internet-connected devices that are out there, this ability to process data more efficiently closer to the source will be a critical step to avoiding data overload.
By solving the latency and speed issues with cloud computing, edge computing is also expected to drive a trend in virtualization, as more companies recognize the potential for improved efficiencies by moving systems to the cloud.