There is so much focus on the physics and mechanics of 5G – and of course its speed, coverage, capacity, and low latency – that we rarely step back enough to see the big picture about the vast benefit that 5G is going to bring to the enterprise.
From a higher viewpoint, you can get an appreciation of what I like to call the 5G Layers of Goodness. Five reasons – notice they all happen to start with the letter G – why you should be salivating at the prospect of taking advantage of all that goodness.
Let’s take a look at them:
Great speeds to any mobile appliance, with low latency and massive coverage.
This is the most obvious layer, and one whose benefits we’ve talked about many times before. What’s not to like about a one-millisecond latency for all manner of critical communications needs, along with the speed and capacity to handle massive amounts of data, and coverage that will dazzle you?
General virtual access to the carrier core via network slicing, creating a “business corridor” for enterprises.
A new protocol of 5G known as SCEF (Service Capability Exposure Function) allows an enterprise to leverage the carrier network core and network slicing more easily. In essence, an enterprise can create a “business corridor” in the provider’s network, using that network as if it was their very own.
This is an extremely useful extension of enterprise capabilities, one that will enhance an enterprise’s ability to connect with their customers, suppliers, and partners.
Whereas everything in the enterprise today is essentially peer-to-peer and point-to-point, with a 5G business corridor a company can readily connect its suppliers to its customers. For example: expanded uses of SD-WAN, harmonized by the 5G ecosystem, will allow new services to extend to both the enterprise supplier and customer. Add IoT to the mix and sensors can be used to communicate between devices, people, and their environment. If a production line goes down sensors will connect wirelessly in real-time to the equipment manufacturer. The sensors can share critical data about the equipment that can be used to remotely analyze and fix the problem or determine the best resolution.
5G will transform the business world by enabling supplier-to-customer connectivity. Think about how Amazon did this, and imagine it happening with the speed and reliability of 5G. Essentially, Amazon made things discoverable. The business model made it possible for customers with needs to find suppliers and their offerings, with Amazon in the middle of it all. Amazon obviously is an extreme example, but think about how your business product and solution sets could be more easily discoverable, and transnationally quick if you had a network with which you could transfer gigabits per second of data. 5G will increase the velocity of business!
Yes, coverage, capacity, and speed are important, but until you use them to make a business use case, they’re just fancy tools. The business corridor concept refines in one valuable way what those tools can do.
Grand versatility of new network wireless and wireline API capabilities, truly connecting people to things.
We have connections between people and things now, but 5G amplifies that with versatility that has not been otherwise available. With APIs (application programming interfaces), the enterprise connectivity components move from being apps to more like bits of code with tentacles of connectivity.
When I connect your API to mine, we both now have another new connected thing. 5G allows us to expose our APIs to those things that benefit us, in ways that will change not only how the internet works, but how IoT functions.
From both individual consumer and enterprise standpoints, our things are built for us to use to accomplish desired results. With 5G, we and those things will connect more easily, with a lighter and more versatile approach. Essentially, our business APIs will be like Lego parts, and all we need to do is snap software interactions together that create new collaborations and extensions – to build what we need.
Generous exposure to high data speed solutions and applications, fixed and mobile alike.
5G will open the door to so many new opportunities in both the fixed and mobile realms. On the fixed side, it will leverage technologies such as millimeter wave to enable wireline replacement. On the mobile side, the high horsepower, speed, coverage, and capacity to your mobile appliances will expose you to boundless types of new high-speed solutions that have never been so readily available. One type of high speed capability is haptics – the ability to feel, in real time, long distance. This could be extremely useful to clothing retailers and in healthcare. Imagine shopping online and being able to touch and feel the fabric of a piece clothing before you bought it. For surgeons it will mean allowing them to “feel” inside a patient’s body as he or she conducts surgery using a robot.
Genuine interoperability of applications from the core to the edge … and beyond.
Yes, we have interoperability today, but soon it will be massive interoperability, from the core (the service provider network) to the edge (where the enterprise sits). This genuine interoperability is a beautiful result of the API capabilities and SCEF allowing connectivity and the ability to interface more easily and efficiently.
What this will do is help enterprises move away from the need to buy so many point solutions, since genuine interoperability can link – for just one example – ERP platforms to inventory platforms, invoicing platforms, truck fleets, or even heating and ventilation systems. This interoperability of applications will be enabled by new styles and new types of gateways, border controllers, and switching, permitting applications to talk to each other in ways they never could before.
Consider the typical app store. Millions of apps are available there, but hardly any are able to talk to each other, since they weren’t designed that way. The virtualization, containerization, and harmonization that is all part of 5G is going to assure that these applications and myriad others function together in a fully harmonious way.