Opportunities in the Technology Industry-I

Forward–Thinking Suppliers are Preparing for a 5G World

5G is a technology that represents the next innovation in wireless. Staying abreast of 5G developments and progress is critical for suppliers to remain technologically relevant over the long-term and maintain a competitive edge.
By Donna Benjamin

Nothing stays the same when it comes to technology. There is a constant push to develop faster and more efficient wireless systems because there is an insatiable consumer and business demand for more devices and advanced technologies that continues to grow stronger each year. Technology developers are also obsessed with developing the next "new thing."

The next new thing is 5G wireless, under development for years and about to become a reality as it is slowly rolled out. While it may take some time for the service to become broadly available, there is little doubt that it will eventually be launched across the country.

Forward-thinking businesses are already preparing to embrace the 5G experience which has the potential to transform the mobile networking environment. How can suppliers prepare now for something yet to happen, turning new technology into a competitive advantage? First they need to understand what it is and how it fits into the IT world of advanced technologies, like Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing.

New Take on the Need for Speed
Increasing bandwidth has been a focus of R&D for years. After 1G was first introduced in the U.S. in 1983 (yes, it has been that long already), 2G, then 3G, 4G and finally 4G LTE, a fourth-generation mobile technology, became a series of improvements in cellular technology. LTE is the communications technology that many cellular companies utilize today for high-speed mobile communication.

Speed has become important because people use their mobile phones to access the internet, and the speed at which pages load is directly related to the type of mobile technology infrastructure accessed.

5G can be thought of as the wireless high-speed internet, but it is comprised of a different set of technologies compared to previous generations of wireless. It is an enhancement or supplement technology to existing LTE networks and not a replacement.

Defining the standards for 5G has been a work in progress for years, and they are scheduled to be approved at the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference that will start Oct. 28 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

China has been a leader in 5G R&D and is ahead in the development process. It is in the fourth phase of a five-year development and rollout process and has already installed a trial network which is ready for expansion. In fact, China plans on a 5G commercial launch in large and medium-sized cities by or during 2020.

In the U.S., AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint will begin launching 5G networks in 2019 in select markets, so the race is on.

One of the interesting facts is that a country, especially a large country, that first implements it nationally will have the ability to influence 5G in the rest of the world. The countries launching or close to launching 5G networks include China, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Qatar and the U.S., to name a few. However, businesses need to know that 5G will roll out around the world.

Big Promises of Things to Come
Diverse suppliers have an opportunity to embrace the new fifth-generation wireless technology, enhancing competitiveness. Unlike prior generations, 5G will enable efficient use of advanced technologies.

5G has a lower latency, faster speed, and more capacity that supports ultra-high definition video and virtual reality. 5G enables more connections at once, so it is better able to support the IoT in which numerous devices are connected via sensors. It will support artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing.

5G's lower latency makes it useful for applications that require complete reliability, like medical devices, utilities, autonomous vehicles, home security systems, vehicle safety systems. 5G will also eventually bring wireless access to millions of people who do not have access via fiber.

As the technology gets closer to everyday reality, it is important for businesses to consider how 5G will impact their operations or industries and begin preparing for the new technology.
As the technology gets closer to everyday reality, it is important for businesses to consider how 5G will impact their operations or industries and begin preparing for the new technology.

5G will enable new abilities, leading to new services. For example, network architectures have been a one-size-fits-all proposition. 5G enables the customization of networks for a variety of devices and technology-based systems, like smart homes or enterprise systems.

Another major change that will be triggered by 5G is that the new wireless system enables software-based network slicing capability that is fluid and will lead to a marketplace of virtual networks. Entrepreneurs will set up 5G-based private networks, use their own radio infrastructure, or use a partner's radio networks and provide services over their own slice of network. Cloud computing companies will likely offer the slices of virtual private networks.

Learn Now
How do diverse suppliers prepare for the new technology that remains a bit of a mystery at this point?

Some areas of the country will have it, and some will not. Tech suppliers will have the opportunity to embrace 5G to develop new applications or products and services, like immersive media, but the networks must be in place.

5G network expansion will also lead to an explosion of more sensors and connected devices. Manufacturers will have opportunities to produce the sensors and devices, including 5G phones that take advantage of 5G network power. Some suppliers will become consultants, helping customers implement 5G networks in factories and workplaces.

A sound piece of advice the experts are giving is to learn as much as possible about 5G and its deployment, and to stay on top of events. Suppliers can then anticipate how they can bring innovation to their customers.

A good place to learn a lot more about 5G, and the impact it will have on suppliers and their customers, is to attend events like the Connectivity Expo which also has a supplier diversity summit focused on connecting diverse suppliers to business opportunities and identifying the role diversity plays in the wireless infrastructure industry. Other major events include the Consumer Technology Association's CES conference and the Mobile World Congress.

One thing is certain. 5G is coming, even if the specific rollout schedule is unknown. Getting a fix on what it is all about is good business.