5G is critical to the competitiveness and future success of America’s small businesses

5G represents an exciting range of new possibilities, but it's also important not to let the hype overwhelm the need for security, privacy and safety.

5G mobile wireless network technology
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The widespread roll-out of 5G is coming. In fact, earlier this year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted affirmatively on an order that will fast-track investment in and deployment of 5g technology across America. A move the FCC believes to be critical to the competitiveness and future success of America’s small businesses.

Today’s entrepreneurs and small business owners must have access to the technology they need that will not only support their growth but also support their ability to scale rapidly. With a growing number of consumers using their smartphones as their primary means of online access at home, businesses that rely on those consumers to make purchases online are ready to reap the benefits of 5G.

This new 5G wireless network technology will have a big impact on a business's ability to communicate with its consumers. To break it down, basically, new antennas are added onto established cell towers, utility poles and smart buildings. If you live in a highly populated area like southern California you know all too well the impact the lack of reception and bandwidth have on businesses. However, these physical changes have us anticipating faster connections which will allow businesses to deliver their solutions and services more efficiently, among the many other benefits such as big data analysis.

Brands like Samsung are already investing in 5G-enabled smartphones, and industry analysts believe that we could see the arrival of a 5G iPhone as early as next year (2020).

Speed has been a big focal point when it comes to 5G, and while that is an important part of the equation, the promise of reduced communication delays is perhaps the most transformative. 5G reduces the time (latency) it takes for data to get from one point to another, so for example businesses that rely on IoT (internet of things) to make business decisions such as product placement or how well its contact center is performing are going to see a big improvement.

Communicate in real-time

The opportunity for businesses to communicate in real-time with everyone from clients to consumers, partners and employees will blur the tradition boundaries many businesses currently face, even allowing for global expansion. While this creates an incredible growth opportunity and businesses will need to be technologically prepared to face much tougher competition.

Smart offices

With the arrival of 5G will come an increase in smart office premises. These smart offices are not only trend-worthy but also make the work environment more efficient and streamlined, something Millennial employees particularly place high on the priority list. A shift to the cloud-based IT environment and wide usage of IoT devices for smart offices will significantly reduce operational business costs. If you’re not already thinking about how to automate your business processes, now is the time if you want to remain competitive. In addition, a reliable and fast connection to the Internet will make emote working even more common, so the size of the offices will eventually change as well. Of course, you’ll need to automate your business processes to make this happen.

Securing the 5G environment

Although 5G is exciting and capable of ushering in entirely new models for how we work and play, like any new technology it comes with increased risks. Some experts believe that 5G has the potential to be problematic because it enables the movement and delivery of higher quantities of data which bring along with its broadening attack surfaces giving criminals more opportunities to strike.

In 2018, a research group revealed that while 5G networks are better secured than most 3G and 4G networks, some vulnerabilities are still present in the 5G environment. For instance, hackers can potentially detect the presence of a 5G phone on a system. Just because technology is new, doesn't mean that it's immune to the same security and privacy issues that have worried the industry for decades, in fact, it usually doesn’t mean that at all.

Importantly, 5G will also change the applications and devices that people use every day. “This means that the precautions people take to secure their own devices, like choosing a reputable VPN will be more critical,” says David Janssen, CEO of VPN Overview.

Businesses will need to start thinking about how 5G will impact them from both an advantage and increased risk potential as telecom companies continue to build up the 5G network.

While most networks can never be 100% secured, it's possible for security measures to be put in place to make 5G connections as secure as possible. For instance, 5G connectivity allows for a process called "network slicing" which will enable operators to fence off part of their network for a dedicated application or user. This guarantees greater speed and capacity and stops other people from accessing the same bandwidth. Additionally, all data sent over 5G is usually encrypted.

Consumers and businesses will need to be more careful about providing access and permissions to only the applications that they trust more, using encrypted apps whenever possible. This is will be particularly critical in office environments that have a BYOD (bring your own device) policy. Basic safety measures like using biometric security and PIN codes to access your smartphone will be essential.

Many of the risks of 5G will lie in how people approach the technology. Rather than just jumping head-first into 5G, companies and vendors will need to recognize that 5G with enabling entirely new possibilities and services, security must be equally accounted for.

Embrace a 5G future with confidence

Voice was still king when the journey started from second-generation wireless technology to the data-focused fourth generations has certainly been evolutionary. While 5G may have a futuristic tune for many people, it’s estimated that about 50 percent of the US will get access to it in the next four years.

“First movers and the right technology leadership are likely to grow faster and more sustainably than the competition. Proactive operators attract more customers and gain market share in today’s environment,” explains Ashkan Rajaee, CEO of TopDevz.

5G, of course, promises not only lightning-fast speed but it also has the capacity to carry massive points of connections simultaneously, thus bringing to life a slew of new communications possibilities.

These new communication possibilities certainly raise the stakes for operators, as 5G requires significant up-front investments as operators need to commit to building costly new infrastructure. Here are some tips to embrace a 5G future with confidence:

  • Create a digital 5G strategy
  • Check your existing systems on their readiness to transit to 5G
  • Start transferring your systems and services to the cloud
  • Think about new tech opportunities for your business opened up due to 5G availability

Embracing the new digital future

AI, IoT and 5G all represent exciting new opportunities for consumers and businesses alike. However, as pressure to rush into 5G deployments continues to arise from every direction, companies will need to keep a focus on security and privacy. Smarter companies will take the process of deploying 5G slowly, building a foundation in advance of the new infrastructure with things like endpoint management solutions that are powered by AI, and machine learning.

These tools will make it easier to monitor the expanding attack surface that 5G delivers in a way that human beings can't manage alone. While 5G is more secure than 4G in general, that shouldn't mean that businesses overlook the threats that come with this new technology. 5G may represent an exciting range of new possibilities, but it's important not to let the hype overwhelm the need for security, privacy and safety.

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