How can businesses ensure ROI from 5G services?

It’s no exaggeration to say the world is fascinated by 5G. Mobile carriers across the globe are gearing up their operations to provide 5G services, and Gartner predicts that investment in the technology in 2020 will be double that of last year.

While much of the initial focus and development of 5G has been centred on consumer devices such as phones and hotspots, arguably the real potential of 5G will be its ability to underpin everything from pop-up stores to remote surgery. 5G offers a vast range of possibilities to businesses, from new applications to new ways of engaging their customers.

But how can any enterprise that’s about to embark on its own 5G journey ensure it will get return on investment? The enthusiasm amongst businesses today to capitalise on next-generation equipment, must be matched by the ability to evaluate not only where 5G will deliver real value but when demand will warrant it.

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Walking the pathway to 5G

Deploying innovative new technologies has become perhaps the most prevalent method by which companies compete and grow in the world today. 5G will benefit consumers with faster connectivity, but enterprise customers will enjoy an equally revolutionary upgrade, one which will underpin a host of new use cases such as massive IoT networks, low latency connectivity and edge computing.

Of course, 5G usage will differ between industries, but five key imperatives must be met in order for 5G edge solutions to fulfil business’ expectations and generate tangible ROI:

• A full range of cellular technologies: The ability to gracefully transition from 4G LTE to Gigabit-Class LTE to 5G solution.

• Full 5G spectrum support: From the low bands of sub-1GHz to the high bands of millimetre wave and everything in between.

• Complete lifecycle management: Such as deployment tools, 5G quality analytic, and Out-of-Band Management.

• Carrier-class connectivity: Comprising customised software-defined modem versions, pre-programmed endpoints, certification and compliance, and multi-level integrity tests.

• Intelligent hybrid WAN connectivity: Interoperability with modern SD-WAN and legacy router infrastructures.

Businesses that want to harness the power of 5G while maintaining enterprise standards for security, reliability, and manageability don’t want to rely on consumer-grade technology or dumb-link 5G integrations. Observing these imperatives of enterprise-class networks will therefore be crucial to removing barriers to 5G ROI today and later down the line.

5G: the productivity accelerator

The unprecedented speed and capacity of 5G will dramatically increase the productivity of a typical business, paying dividends in terms of increased efficiency and therefore tangible ROI.

In the short-term, 5G will enable agile and fast fixed wireless connections that will enable organisations to “cut-the-cord” while extending the reach and reliability of their WAN. While businesses today operate networks as many individual domains (branch, mobile and IoT), an advanced orchestration and automation system can make the entire network operate as a single unified network fabric.

Looking further ahead, the power of edge computing will provide the processing power that will move artificial intelligence-powered solutions from the niche to the mainstream.

From a cost-benefit perspective, AI automates and simplifies data analysis of any type, which can clearly offload work from human staff and increase productivity. While AI solutions are currently housed mainly in data centres, 5G will enable rapidly accelerated data processing at the network edge, providing the real-time and ubiquitous connectivity that AI requires to function.

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A pathway to the next generation of wireless technology

As opposed to the previous generational ‘shifts’ that have occurred in the evolution of wireless technology, with 5G, changes will occur across a collection of different technologies and spectrum that will roll out over time, each of which will have its own ability to increase ROI. In other words, businesses should view the transition to 5G as less of an event and more of a pathway, with new pockets of revenue opening up as new components and capabilities are unlocked.

At the same time, businesses will still need identify the right time to adopt 5G technology, based on when it will enable them to compete, improve operations, and create new products and services that deliver real value to end-users. This requires a new, more agile WAN that only wireless can provide.

Written by James Bristow, SVP EMEA at Cradlepoint

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