There’s been a lot of build up about 5G use cases that will drive adoption of this new and transformational technology. We’ve all heard the hype around self-driving cars, virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. However, there have been questions around where the major growth in the market will be, either in consumer or enterprise. Although 5G will have much to offer consumers, there are many use cases, challenges and opportunities it will first introduce to the enterprise edge as the technology comes to fruition.
5G and the Enterprise
There are many reasons that point to 5G showing early success in the enterprise, especially for end users. Enterprises are looking for flexibility along with the freedom of time and place to conduct their business. Companies don’t want to be constrained by the schedule of when wires get installed into new locations. And even in “fixed” locations like retail stores, wiring closets get moved due to merchandising refreshes. Enterprises are striving for efficiency optimization like we haven’t seen before — the ability to allow workers and customers to get done what they need to get done however they’d like to do it. For all of these reasons, enterprises will be the starting point for 5G use cases.
Use Cases: What’s Evolving with 5G
5G technology will evolve with a number of new and advanced use cases. With 5G, we’ll see higher bandwidth with lower latency to the enterprise edge — as low as single-digit milliseconds. This will allow business innovators to discover their own unique use cases as the technology evolves. For example, we’ll see more smart kiosks, but instead of a device on the other end, we’ll have the ability to put a live person on the other end via video streaming. For the first time, this will allow for the concept of the “uberization” of consumer services.
Patients who are feeling sick will no longer need to wait days or weeks for an appointment to see their physician. Doctors will have the ability to have their day job and then sign on after work to get a few more hours to help patients remotely. For healthcare practitioners, the key to telemedicine is being able to confidently diagnose just as if they were in the room — and that’s only possible with reliable, high-quality audio, video and diagnostic technology. We’ll also certainly see improvements in industries across the board as 5G will allow for data crunching of the massive amounts of information we receive from IoT.
The use cases from 5G will be manifold due to the availability of more bandwidth and more capacity, with industry experts predicting affordable flat-rate pricing, increasing adoption from per-per bit 4G plans. Things like television broadcasting will also be able to function at speeds many times faster than the current 4G network, and will allow for instantly distributed crystal clear images across their screens. But perhaps the most anticipated use case is fixed wireless access, which is expected to be the first 5G use case that will emerge in the market. This is because fixed wireless will allow network freedom and be a catalyst of growth in the enterprise, which has a voracious appetite for more bandwidth and increased connectivity.
Looking Forward: Some Obstacles with 5G Technology
Despite the hype around 5G, there are a few major obstacles that will need to be faced, even at this point in its development in pre-commercial deployment. Experts are still in the testing and trial phase and an abundance of engineering is going on to figure out how 5G will run in already deployed networks.
One of the main challenges will be integration across all geographies and devices. That’s why the wireless industry is advancing existing 4G networks towards Gigabit LTE. This capability is already being deployed by many network operators, and is intended to work hand-in-hand with 5G for the foreseeable future. This will allow a more seamless customer experience across the network as 5G gets built out; a Pathway to 5G, if you will.
This pathway to 5G will create an exciting number of new use cases for Enterprises, and will generate a significant amount of revenue for companies while providing unprecedented new opportunities for end users.
Lindsay Notwell is senior vice president of 5G Strategy & Global Carrier Operations at Cradlepoint.