Is 5G a Mobile Revolution or Tech Hype?

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It’s hard to imagine that the entire mobile revolution is less than 40 years old. Today, mobile networks and portable devices have become essential business tools. Mobile communication has singlehandedly changed the way the world conducts its business.  Global businesses are dependent on mobile devices and the need to remain connected at all times.

The demand for faster mobile networks is already a primary concern. We’ve all been there. We’ve all waiting to connect. Forget the famous AOL guy for a second. Even today, we complain about the slow connection if it’s less than 5 seconds.

Global enterprises are already beginning to maximize the capacities of 4G, their need for more data and faster response is outpacing the existing networks.

What solutions are being developed, today, to respond to this growing concern?

During the European Huawei Innovation Day, I heard from David M. Ewalt, Contributing Editor at Forbes Magazine, who presented a case study about 5G networks and how top global businesses are approaching the future. Ewalt

In the next 5-10 years, 5G networks will be introduced to global markets. According to predictions, the impact of 5G will be profound. Till then, companies who understand the importance of this innovation, are already laying the groundwork by creating long-term plans to ease the transition into this new age of mobile communication.

With all of the hype about 5G networks, launching such a critical technology to the masses is only viable if we understand some important issues surrounding the revolutionary network.

Here are 3 Important Findings about 5G and the Future of Mobile Networks

Current Capabilities

It’s no surprise that today’s global businesses are dependent on mobile and wireless devices to run their entire enterprise. The importance of being mobile with full access to all information at any given time has already proven itself. In fact, according to the report, 86% of executives say mobile tech is critical to providing a superior customer experience.

With mobile and wireless being so integral to the global enterprise, it’s already becoming apparent that today’s needs are out of date. Technology today is already behind the times. Today, businesses have a need for speed in terms of data, real time calculations, and sales processes.

The capabilities of tech today are considered slow. The 4G network, according to many executives, is a hindrance to real innovation.

Think about that.

Why?

Simply stated, 4G network is limited in its ability to transfer high quality content in real-time to an entire network of people. There’s just too much strain on the network.

What do companies want?

They want ultra-high throughput (meaning transfer of information), they want more connections to a faster network, and they want a lower latency (less waiting time).

The infrastructure is there, but it needs to be improved and boosted to meet the needs of 5G.

Isn’t 5G just an improved version of 4G?

In short, no.  

The 4G is what we have today, which means 5G tomorrow and 6G next year? That’s probably the most common question from consumers and executives who hear the term.The 5G network is isn’t just an enhanced version of its predecessor.

It’s like comparing a Pinto to a Porsche 911 Carrera (silver please).  

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It’s not just an upgrade it’s an entire restructuring of connectivity. A new infrastructure with a new standard is being designed. No, the new 5G standard isn’t ready, yet but it’s on pace to be released by 2020.

What will it bring?

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Think about these numbers: In 2014, CNET conducted a test of the 4G (LTE) network. In that report, speed was calculated in Mbps (Megabits per second).

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Porsche  911

In 5G, each individual user will have access to

  1. 10 gigabits (not megabits) per second of  throughput (meaning the number of such actions executed or results produced per unit of time);
  2. end-to-end latency as little as 1 millisecond,
  3. and connections for as many as one million devices per square kilometer, or 100 billion devices worldwide.

There are 125 Megabytes per second in a Gigabit per second.

Those are numbers. That’s speed.

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What does the 5G really mean?

Zero-distance connectivity between people and connected machines with a supersonic ability to transfer huge amounts of data to countless devices instantaneously around the world.

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The 4G Punto maxes out at a few thousand connections, which limits their use to phones, laptops, and other smart devices. 

We’ve all been there. The connection starts getting slow. It lags. We complain.

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Meanwhile, the 5G, Porsche 911, will handle exponentially more devices and allow them all (not just usual mobile devices but any appliance) to be running online at once.

So, no, 5G isn’t just an improved 4G.

Think revolution, not evolution.

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Just for the sake of an example, the Forbes study uses New York City’s public safety wireless network. The city has already invested over $500 million into the transmitting high-speed, secure data, voice and video from over 400 towers throughout the city.

That’s not what is impressive.

The city realized that there’s an increased demand for more wireless access but in those areas the residents are unable to afford it. So the city converted over 7,500 old payphones into wireless hotspots. Voila, free gigabit internet coverage to those that need it the most.

The city set the groundwork for longer term technological advancements.

Remember they are providing gigabit internet, 5G will provide 10 gigabits!

Clearly, the challenge for 5G isn’t demand, it’s the speed in which the technology can get deployed.

Well that and education.

Educating the Enterprise

This is an important aspect in terms of deploying 5G. According to the Forbes study, 36% of the executives polled know “very little” or virtually nothing about the technologies and issues involved with 5G. The European executives are far more educated than their North American or Asian counterparts (24% know nothing vs. 42% vs 40%). The most knowledgeable, of course, are the executives in the tech verticals.

Clearly, 5G is an emerging technology that has the potential to disrupt and transform existing methods of business. While the opportunity is there, most executives are simply unaware or uneducated. That’s a problem.

Why are most companies still hesitant to jump on?

Most likely it’s skepticism.

The world has become accustomed to 4G, so attempting to grasp such a revolution when the existing network is serving its needs to the average consumer is difficult. Indeed, today consumers can already perform many of the real time functions that 5G offers, they’ve become accustomed to the pace of a Punto.

It’s not that customers or enterprises are not interested in 5G, it’s that most of them want the current network to function in an optimal manner (security, speed).

Who has time to think about the future, when there are data breaches and slow connections?!

Education will breed excitement. Explaining the speed, the connection, the potential will get any executive eager to jump on since it means more revenue generated in a shorter amount of time. Not to mention the real time metrics and calculations that will drive any business forward.

For enterprises to really embrace 5G, executives will need to educate themselves and, in turn, gain corporate support investments in this revolution.

That’s no simple task.

Wireless and mobile have already proven themselves in the enterprise. At this point it’s hard for companies to risk investments in a ‘shiny, new’ version of an existing technology.

It’s not like a newer phone where the differences in two versions can clearly be seen and explained. Clearly, the issue is understanding that 5G isn’t just a natural evolution of 4G but a revolutionary development aimed at redefining how people, devices and cities stay connected.

So how can executives educate their organization? How can they encourage long term investment?

Think like a user.

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The most successful companies learn and market their product by thinking like a user. They don’t sell to their user. They listen. They hear the pain points and they adapt. The user guides the entire process. With 5G, end users need to be involved during this critical transition and education phase. By gaining their insight, companies will see and value the true benefits of a connected network.

Involvement of the end-user can play a significant role in shaping how quickly companies are willing to invest in the future.

Thinking and adapting a technology to shape the end-users needs isn’t a simple task.

This is a shift in mindset.

That’s a much harder investor deck to create. But, in the long term, it’s a much more valuable investment since the end-user has been a direct catalyst in enabling the future success of the enterprise.

Real Benefits of 5G

With more than 80% of the executives believing that 5G will indeed have a positive impact in multiple layers of their business, it’s clear that this technology is set to disrupt the existing network solution. What are executives most eager about?  The customer experience, the quality of the product, and the productivity of their employees (in that order).

Clearly, the bullish vision of the large global enterprises is a necessary component in bringing 5G to the masses.

The true potential, however, is the impact it will have on society.  Imagine your favorite sci-fi films coming to life. Smart cars (we’re not that far away), smart cities, brain imaging and mapping.

The 5G network will redefine how companies, people and societies stay connected. The super-intelligent and sophisticated network will clearly disrupt entire industries.

Till then, it’s time to start taking steps and prepare for the super speed, mobile, connected network. 5G is on the horizon, and I, for one, can’t wait for it to lead to a brighter future.

 

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