Weighing-In On 5G

Are you tracking the news surrounding 5G? Promising speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G along with massive capacity gains, the hype surrounding 5G is palpable. The transformative implications of technologies enabled by 5G such as Smart Cities, Self-Driving Cars and Virtual Reality captivate the imagination with endless possibilities. While the prospect of these solutions is exciting, it will likely be years before they are fully refined and widely available. As an Executive Negotiator at G2, Inc., I am often asked what the practical implications of 5G networks will be to corporate environments in the short to moderate term.

Initial 5G Expectations

5G is currently available in select US cities with nationwide coverage not expected until mid to late 2020. When 5G does arrive, users can expect faster data speeds and improved reliability. The fact that the first 5G enabled iPhone is not expected until the second half of 2020 will hinder short term adoption of 5G Smartphones in the enterprise, which skews heavily towards iOS. This makes Fixed Wireless (Wireless Router) the likely driver of initial 5G adoption by enterprise customers. Fixed Wireless can be used to provide redundancy to traditional fixed line data connections or as an outright replacement to traditional fixed line data service. It should be noted that hardware and rate plan cost will be key variables in the pace of initial adoption.

IT Procurement

From a procurement perspective, the downward price pressure that Fixed Wireless may put on traditional fixed line services could drive welcomed savings opportunities for enterprise customers. More importantly, the changes that 5G will bring to the way that carriers package and price their wireless offerings will be significant. G2 expects a shift away from the longstanding buckets of service model (Gigabytes, Minutes, Messages) to a model where cost is based on class of service. For example, G2 expects the price of 5G service to vary based on the speed of service, latency, prioritization, throttling threshold, included applications, etc. G2 will benchmark and track 5G pricing as it emerges and evolves. G2 expects the impact that 5G will have on the cable broadband market to be significant. Both Consumers and business stand to benefit from the introduction of competitive alternatives in the broadband market. Verizon and T-Mobile have announced that Fixed Wireless broadband will be key components of their 5G strategy. On a personal note, I look forward to exploring ISP alternatives to my current “only game in town” cable provider. In the enterprise space, competition in the broadband market plays well with the proliferation of corporate SDWAN deployments. Finally, 5G will bring a viable wireless broadband option to rural, underserviced areas of the country.

Going Forward

In the long term, 5G will turn sci-fi like technology into reality. However, the full realization of this reality is likely several years away. That said, 5G will bring significant changes and opportunities to the enterprise market within the next 12 months. Better service, competitive price pressure, evolving plan structures and more can be expected as 5G networks rollout nationwide in 2020. G2 believes that the in the mobile industry, the only constant is change and you can be sure that 5G will be the next major driver of transformation.

Take-Aways – What You Need To Do

  • Obtain a comprehensive build of your current telecom inventory
  • Identify potential use cases for 5G enabled Fixed Wireless
  • Talk with your carriers regarding their 5G rollout timeline and service offerings
  • Make sure your telecom contracts are properly written for transition to 5G or any new technologies