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Toll Free: 800.333.5905
2675 Research Park Drive
Madison, WI 53711
The fifth generation of the internet (5G) is projected to dominate the digital landscape by 2020, but that change is coming sooner than once thought. Already available in a number of major cities, 5G internet is poised to be the big winner of 2019. Forecasting internet speeds of over 1 GB per second, able to power entire offices, download movies in seconds, and support entire houses of electronics, 5G is poised to transform business in 2019.
In a Bold Predictions of 2019 article, ITP’s CEO, Paul Hager, envisaged that 5G cellular internet will disrupt the world as we know it. Major companies like AT&T, Verizon, & T-Mobile are already shifting their focus to winning your 5G market share. Brands are retooling their logos to emphasize 5G. You’re even starting to see the advertising campaigns rolling out the messaging on more mainstream media outlets in the major markets. A fledgling version of 5G technology is currently available in select cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago, among others. However, just because the technology isn’t available to the masses, doesn’t mean it’s not set for total expansion and ultimately the death of 4G technologies.
As a provider of many IT solutions, ITP has the opportunity to work with a number of different vendors. We meet with their teams, and we learn of some of their plans for the upcoming months, so we can best relay that information to our customers. One would say we’re in the know.
For example, when we see that a large number of laptops set to ship in 2019 include cellular cards that support 5G, rather than 4G LTE, we have a simple translation. The vendors of major computer technology are prepping their products to the change this year, which means the 5G shift is coming faster than people thought.
While it will still take time to nationalize and globalize this offering because it is a massive infrastructure change, the initial stages are moving ahead of schedule. Major cities account for a vast portion of the U.S. population, and 5G is coming to those people in 2019. We guarantee it.
While the masses may not have adopted the new technology, the long-term investment in 5G will provide a return for companies who move that direction.
To understand why there will be a tremendous value in the 5G network, we need to go all the way back to the 3G network. When you have an older device, that goes off a Wi-Fi network onto a cellular one and connects with a 3G connection, you’ll be astounded by the speeds. What we once thought was blazing fast is now a slow grind. Videos buffer, rather than simply playing. The desire for better video content led to the evolution of the 4G network.
When 4G came along, it enabled people to consume video content wherever they were, and it definitely supported the growth of apps like Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix. In today’s business world, most consumers will be working on a 4G network.
The reason 3G and then 4G networks made such an impact was their ability to support a device (or more) and provide a decent web-browsing experience. While the 3G networks maxed out around 5Mbps, most 4G networks will offer between 5-20 Mbps at a minimum. This amount of data transferability, when dedicated to an individual device, is a decent internet connection and will allow you to have a positive browsing experience. On a 4G network, Web-based apps and services should be functioning near their optimal rate. This jump from the 3G network to the 4G network was huge for business operations, and the next jump is going to be exponentially bigger.
There are two major differentiators for 5G networks, speed and support. As you see in the graphic above, internet speeds on a 5G network will be faster than anything we’ve had before. What’s more, the jump compared to the previous generation of cellular technology is following the same exponential growth pattern we saw in the 80s. To put it into perspective, new 5G technology, is capable of speeds of 400 Mbps, up to 1 Gbps, with speeds expected to reach 10 Gbps by 2020. That is enough internet ability for an entire office of 100 people to work. And not just the emergency back-up for a small location, we’re talking about a technology that in theory can replace the primary internet provider for every major business.
This shift would be hugely disruptive. Cellular companies are leading in the on-premise internet providing business, and they will not go down without a fight. This has been an industry dominated by very large players who have spent billions (if not trillions) of dollars laying fiber into the ground, and now all of that infrastructure is “arguably worthless.” In a world where you can have a cellular connection that delivers the same speed, with less equipment and with more reliability, why wouldn’t end customers choose that option? Answer – they’re scared of change, and eventually, they will adapt.
At the same time, as a provider, we’re seeing SD LANs (software-defined local area network) take over MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) networks. Basically, a managed internet provider has a network built up around the country, and you pay for their “housing” services. This allows you to interact between offices in multiple locations, share files, etc. in a simple way. And with this service, you pay a hefty fee each month to leverage the stitched together network. But with SD LANs, you forgo this network. The software available to users will allow them to save costs and improve speed and reliability, thanks to the new 5G network technology. Talk about an all-time win-win-win.
The second major advantage of a 5G network is the support system around the country. With the old 4G network, only a few towers around the whole nation were needed. They could support networks over a long distance, but that also meant that end customers were often a long way from their network towers. When you run a PING test on that type of network to determine the speed information travels from your device to wherever it’s headed in the internet world, you’ll see a slight delay of roughly 70 milliseconds in response time. For everyday browsing, that’s fine, and end users are happy.
But when you look at mission-critical applications – especially those that require a faster response time, this new technology will be able to improve service quality. This applies to basic internet usage, but also to new solutions, like the Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are popping up in every household. Smart appliances (like your smart fridge) often log data and ship it back up to the Cloud to be analyzed, and that analysis doesn’t require a real-time decision. But when you’re now talking about a vehicle, immediate response time is required. Your car can travel hundreds of feet in that same 70 milliseconds. With 5G, however, it’s 1-5 milliseconds, a huge reduction in overall time.
Why? Because the towers are closer and there are more of them. This will make a more diverse, more meshed network. With this option, we’re talking about internet devices that are able to engage, respond, and react in the real world in a much faster way.
5G technology will continue to lead to internet-enabled devices in all markets. When you start placing ubiquitous internet with high bandwidth and low latency, everywhere across the country, it is going to be a game changer.
That change is coming in 2019. Businesses need to be aware of this coming change as they make investments in technology this year.