5G is anticipated to be one of, if not the most adopted technology by enterprises in the coming decade, providing the foundation for true connected experiences
More than ever, people expect effortless access to their data – anywhere and anytime – in both their personal and professional lives. Considering this alongside the now-widespread acceptance of hybrid working, and the many organisations exploring the possibilities offered by cloud transformation, big data, and the internet of things (IoT), the demand for high-quality, always-on connectivity has never been higher.
5G private networks offer an answer to this demand, and will prove transformative for a number of industries, including manufacturing, utilities, retail, public transport and healthcare, providing staff with effortless access to the tools they need, whether they’re at home, on site, or on the move. This will, in turn, drive new innovations in customer service, technological innovation, and the way we collate, analyse, and act on our critical business data.
At first glance, 5G may seem like a simple update to 4G, offering increased bandwidth, greater reach, and minimal latency. But while this is certainly true, its potential benefits extend far beyond this. Ultimately, while 4G was a brilliant evolution for consumers, it is businesses who will reap the greatest benefits from 5G. While it has been suggested that we are still some way off from truly experiencing these benefits, the early successes 5G has already delivered paint a different picture.
The current state of 5G: why private networks are key for the here and now
The widespread implementation of public 5G is still reaching maturity and perhaps won’t do so for some time. However, one area developing much more quickly is private 5G. Ofcom recently released a small amount of spectrum for these private networks in the UK and it’s quickly being trialled by many businesses. Critically, 5G enables large-scale connection to a single cell from multiple locations.
These private networks are perfect for connecting geographically dispersed sites, providing consistent performance for business-critical applications. For example, most energy companies manage massive substations, power stations, solar and wind farms. Such sites are typically highly dispersed, but still require reliable, secure, and private connectivity – the kind provided by a private 5G network.
Why 5G allows us to live and breathe the phrase ‘data is king’
Deploying 5G for these huge areas also means organisations don’t need expensive cabling, which requires a lot of manpower to install. As a result, a 5G private network is frequently more cost-effective, cheaper, quicker to install, easier to set up, and – crucially – more reliable and secure. This not only ensures devices and staff can access critical applications from wherever they are operating, but also provides the power and performance required for resource-intensive big data and IoT projects.
With staff connecting remotely across numerous sites, utilising a wide range of software-defined solutions and IoT devices, organisations generate increasing volumes of data on a daily basis – a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Private 5G networks allow this data to be securely gathered, stored, and analysed, providing a clear picture of the entire ecosystem, and delivering insights that lead to sustainable, long-term growth.
This might include manufacturers, who can monitor the performance of IoT devices across their entire network of sites, healthcare organisations capturing and centralising data at the point it is created to enhance patient outcomes, or retailers tracking customer behaviour throughout visits to their sites to deliver tailored marketing and better service delivery. With a private 5G network as the foundation, and the support of the right technology partners, all these possibilities (and more) become not just possible, but highly achievable.
Find a partner that can support your own 5G journey
Despite private 5G networks being much easier to implement, the process nonetheless requires specialist engineers that are accredited to work in challenging or remote environments, and are able to offer hands-on advice around system integration, ensuring the new network has ample room to scale and evolve.
When looking for the right partner, businesses should not only be looking for one with the in-house networking capabilities, but one that can underpin and support a holistic 5G ecosystem, enabling the delivery of those all-important connected experiences. This should be supported by sector-specific knowledge, ensuring the assigned project teams understand their specific requirements around compliance, security, and performance and ensure these are inherent in the design of the solution.
By working with a tech-savvy partner that can help to implement and support this full ecosystem, organisations will be in a much better position to leverage all of the current and future benefits of 5G, leading us into the next era of network modernisation.
About the Author
Mukesh Bavisi is Managing Director at Exponential-e. Innovation is at the core of Exponential-e, and has been since our inception in 2002. We wholly own our superfast Network, and our fusion of complementary technologies – a carrier-class Network and Cloud infrastructure – means we can deliver enterprise applications at wire speed for a superior end-user experience.
Featured image: ©GreenButterfly