By Riaan Graham, Director Enterprise at CommScope sub-Saharan Africa
There has been much talk and speculation around 5G. If we consider that, according to GSM Association’s 2021 global statistics, 5G networks are likely to cover one-third of the world’s population by 2025, it then becomes important to understand what it brings to the ‘connectivity’ table and more so, what it means for you.
Simply put: a lot! Driven by consumer demand, new business models and a new generation of applications, the fifth generation of cellular networks, 5G, brings new capabilities – enabling a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything at higher speeds, ultra-low latency and, thankfully, more reliability. The impact on the mobile industry, and customers, will be profound – a vision of entirely new possibilities.
However, for 5G to fulfil its potential, it must also deliver on the vision to efficiently enable the wireless interconnection of machines to the cloud. Additionally, finding the balance between shaping architecture that pushes capabilities to the edge, while allowing for greater efficiency will be key and so realistically.
Here are 3 things you and your business need to know when it comes to 5G:
It’s going to take some time
It is still early days for 5G. 5G licences have not been assigned in the local market – in fact, we are still waiting on 4G spectrum to be allocated. There are only two mobile handsets in the market that currently have 5G capabilities and only a handful of high-end laptops. Availability in South Africa is scarce at the moment and rollout will be expensive and slow.
5G will not be the ‘be all and end all’ of connectivity
All platforms will continue to play a role and have their specific strengths and uses. Businesses should not hold off moving forward with their strategies, because they are waiting for 5G. Rather they should be looking at the technologies that are currently available and can be serviced by current infrastructure. Proper Wi-Fi connectivity, which supports high-capacity data connectivity, will continue to be critical going forward and will be much cheaper than 5G – until the market matures. As such, use what you have and make sure you have a migration strategy in place.
Horses for courses
Make 5G part of your roadmap, but as industry experience teaches us, always have multiple connectivity models. The industry changes too quickly to be caught out or beholden to a model that cannot change or scale as the market does – remember that.
Of course, it’s an exciting time for 5G across the wireless industry and for the world. And we know, what will ultimately be enabled by 5G is almost unimaginable today. However, remember, while the 5G future begins now, the road to this envisioned future is still a long one.