5G has been billed as the magic bullet for many of today’s wireless network challenges. It’s expected to bring greater bandwidth, coverage and capacity for mobile computing. While enterprise users can expect to see performance improvement for real-time apps and during peak usage times on 5G, there are many misconceptions about how, where and when 5G will work for businesses.
Enterprises that know the difference between 5G hype and reality will be able to manage the transition better, set user expectations and avoid disappointment. For all of the promise of 5G, users can expect to deal with the shortcomings of current, “older” networks for the foreseeable future.
Here are three of the biggest myths about how 5G will impact the enterprise.
Myth: 5G is coming soon!
Reality: 5G may start deploying in 2019, but won’t be everywhere you need it for some time
The 5G rollout will be slow and will begin in the areas with the highest network demand and coverage needs – heavily populated cities. For the next few years all mobile users will be hopping in and out of 5G coverage areas, similar to the 3G-to-4G transition. Unfortunately, rural areas that still lack 4G and even 3G coverage likely won’t be getting 5G any time soon.
Myth: 5G will benefit all mobile users
Reality: Users will need 5G-capable devices
Only 5G-capable smart devices will be able to use 5G networks. Older devices won’t see any improvement. The development of these new devices is still in its early stages with the first 5G-ready smartphones scheduled to hit the market in early 2019.
Myth: 5G will always be the best network (and I won’t need others)
Reality: 5G’s superior performance is dependent on pairing with other networks
Yes, 5G will bring significant improvements in network performance and bandwidth. However, to get there, 5G changes the way mobile devices move data. Rather than choosing between a cellular network or a local Wi-Fi network, 5G devices will use both.
This convergence of licensed and unlicensed spectrum will give all users additional speed and bandwidth to play with, but it also means that the connections will become more complex. For enterprises, tracking and managing that mobile data moving across multiple networks will be more labor intensive, with bits and pieces of data spread across multiple bands and network technologies.
What should enterprises do now?
Now is the time for education and research. Enterprises can start by analyzing their data consumption and mobile network visibility. It helps to know which networks (public and private) users connect to, how strong their connections are and where problem areas are. Turning devices into IoT-like sensors can generate comprehensive data about the user’s experience that IT can use for analysis and management.
With this detailed visibility, IT teams gain a number of advantages. For instance, they can work with their carrier to ensure better service in the areas where 5G is eventually deployed. This intelligence is also vital for optimizing the end user experience, controlling costs and troubleshooting in 5G’s complex, hybrid network architecture.
The road to 5G may be slow, but the benefits will be worth the wait. A faster, broader network will open the door for enterprises to take advantage of powerful new real-time apps, including virtual reality (VR) training, augmented reality (AR) service and more. Just know that won’t arrive overnight or fix “everything”.
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