Big three: Develop a strategy for 5G

Consider these best practices for capitalizing on the promise of 5G for cloud and edge computing.

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5G holds enormous potential for change with the IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (artificial intelligence), but with every technology shift comes a need to re-evaluate priorities, strategies, and investments. When considering a future that includes 5G, forward-looking IT and networking leaders need to develop a clear strategy to prepare for capitalizing on 5G.

Global 5G networks provide new enhanced technical capabilities that serve more than 429 million connections, according to 5G Americas, which is leading modern industries to examine how 5G wireless cellular connectivity impacts their business.

More specifically, 5G offers higher speed and enhanced connectivity through new spectrum, dedicated resource management with network slicing, highly reliable communication for latencies less than 10 milliseconds, improved security, a distributed packet core that spreads core network functions to the network edge, and flexible service creation and deployment with SBA (service-based architecture). A few key industries that stand to benefit from 5G, according to 5G Americas, include manufacturing, mining, utilities, healthcare, education, and gaming, just to name a few.

Consider the example of T-Mobile. Open signal’s research shows that between March and October, T-Mobile customers experienced a 40% increase in download speeds on Ultra Capacity 5G, and at the same time the number of connections to Ultra Capacity 5G more than tripled.

Now, let’s consider three key points for best practices and first steps with 5G.

How does 5G change your strategy?

Let’s take a closer look at how 5G impacts cloud and edge computing.

Cloud: 5G will enable network operators to innovate new and enhanced services, all while modernizing networks. Intel is calling it cloudification, which is the process of extending cloud platforms, technologies, and virtualization capabilities throughout a communications network to make it more agile, flexible, and scalable. It suggests cloudification prepares for 5G’s 10 times less latency, 100 times faster speed, and 1,000 times more capacity.

For enterprises, 5G will enable faster feeds and speed, enabling near realtime control of machines. Enterprises will benefit from the improved speed, reliability, and low latency. It will open up opportunities for new data creation, storage, and transfer. It will benefit nearly every industry from manufacturing to construction. Businesses will have new opportunities for innovation and to tap into artificial intelligence.

Edge: While the cloud provides high-volume processing and storage, the edge provides lower latency and processes data closer to the source. 5G connectivity makes the division of computing resources along the cloud-network-edge continuum possible, and its ultra-reliable low-latency capabilities make the shorter connection between the device and the edge even more efficient, according to Intel.

For network operators, the high speeds and ultra-low latency of 5G networks and edge processing will enable businesses to act on data insight in near realtime and eliminate application delays. Meanwhile, businesses will also be equipped to grow and test new markets by expanding compute wherever it makes the most sense, offering agile scaling. Further, leveraging the increased bandwidth and reliability of 5G and edge computing will enable businesses to be able to deliver customer experiences and unlock new services for their industry.

For example, roadside units can use 5G and the edge to route traffic in realtime in the transportation sector, while high-bandwidth 5G and edge computing can merge online and in-store retail for personalization.

Ericsson suggests by 2023, 5G will make up around one-fifth of all mobile data traffic, where 25% of the use-cases will depend on edge-computing capabilities. The majority of the new 5G revenue potential is expected to come from enterprise and IoT services, of which many will rely on edge computing.

How do you plan for new 5G applications?

One of the best ways to plan for new 5G applications is to look at use cases and real-world examples in your industry. Let’s say you work in manufacturing. One opportunity would be to decrease production downtime by leveraging computer vision. With 5G, a factory floor could be transformed. With 5G, this data will be able to be provided in near realtime.

Once the opportunity is recognized, we need to identify what to do with all that data and create a strategy for it. Perhaps with more accurate machine data, a manufacturer could be able to control and analyze industrial processes with high precision, almost instantly. Think of the implication this could have on manufacturing processes if the workforce could be better utilized.

It all starts with recognizing a need, capitalizing on that opportunity, and then leveraging the data. A strategy becomes key to tap into all of this.

Where do you begin?

Start with the customer. Often the biggest opportunities with 5G will come from looking at how you might digitize a customer’s experience. Other opportunities exist in business process and productivity. Keep in mind, while the infrastructure is coming—and here already in many cases—there is a big gap with talent that still exists. After identifying opportunities, we need to make sure our workers are ready to build 5G-enabled products and services. We need to prepare our workforce.

The benefits of 5G are endless. The opportunities are endless. Perhaps the best advice is to tap into your talent now and prepare for the future of connectivity today.

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This post is brought to you by T-Mobile and IDG. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of T-Mobile.

About the Author

Peggy Smedley is an award-winning journalist and technology expert. During her 25-year career she has extensively covered IoT, manufacturing, construction technology, and most recently sustainability, circularity, and resiliency. She is founder and president of Specialty Publishing Media; editorial director of Constructech and Connected World; radio host of The Peggy Smedley Show, and author of her new book “Sustainable In a Circular World,” which follows her first book, Mending Manufacturing (2004)  Learn more at sustainablecircularworld.com

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