As the weather turns colder, IT pros may want to turn their thoughts to one of the most hotly anticipated tech trends for 2019: 5G.
After years of escalating hype, the latest milestone in wireless communication could actually become reality in the New Year.
Or will it?
That’s just one of the key questions to ponder in order to prepare your organization’s network for 5G. Here are the 5 W’s of 5G prep that you may want to consider.
Who will be offering 5G in 2019? Every carrier has a different plan. In the U.S., AT&T and Verizon have both announced plans to roll out some form of 5G (although not in the same markets) by the end of 2018. In Canada, specific dates haven’t been released for service rollouts, though 5G trials are taking place.
Who can help you? Ask your existing carriers and solution providers if they need businesses to run 5G test cases. Reach out to groups in your sector or industry vertical to tap into research, case studies or partnership opportunities they can offer around 5G deployment.
What type of 5G service do you need? If you’re an enterprise or SMB, the answer is commercial 5G. Don’t assume, however, that the timelines and locations for commercial 5G will be the same as for residential 5G. For example, Verizon’s plan to launch 5G in the U.S. by the end of 2018 includes homes but no business service.
What hardware do you need? Think about what type of equipment you’ll need to deploy 5G. Although new 5G standards were finalized this past June, IDC senior research analyst Jason Leigh told NetworkWorld that handsets and other hardware for “full end-to-end 5G communications and networking probably won’t hit the market until 2020.”
Leigh said any phones or other devices bearing a 5G label before 2020 “are going to be 5G in name but they’re still going to rely on 4G LTE back-end architecture.”
Give your existing LAN infrastructure a once-over, too. Ed Fox, vice-president of network services at MetTel, told Network Computing that businesses “need to start making sure their LANs are ready” for 5G by “deploying fiber solutions with power distribution as opposed to what has been done in LANs to date.”
Where will 5G be available? Verizon will limit its initial 5G service to Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Indianapolis, while AT&T plans to launch 5G in 16 U.S. markets, with both rollouts slated to happen by the end of this year. In Canada, there’s no firm word yet on which cities will get 5G first.
Where will 5G extend your network? Whether your 5G strategy includes deploying IoT sensors or simply allowing your staff to use more mobile devices for work, assess where that could create new network endpoints and routes. Then consider potential implications for security, device management and BYOD policies, plus relevant regulatory legislation governing data privacy, security and storage.
When will 5G be available to you? As mentioned earlier, your access to 5G business service really depends on when your carrier, hardware makers and solution providers roll out their 5G offerings. Canadian businesses should note the federal government won’t be holding 5G spectrum auctions until 2020.
Gartner researchers predict that “by 2020, only three per cent of the world’s network-owning mobile CSPs will have launched 5G networks commercially” and that “wide availability may not be achieved before 2022.”
Why does your organization need 5G? This is clearly the most important question of all, and the one you should ask before any others. As Fox told Network Computing, enterprises “need to very carefully evaluate if 5G is actually needed for [their] applications, or which pieces of the 5G ecosystem may fit, without worrying about the hype.”