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The 6 Top Enterprise Use Cases for 5G

The 6 Top Enterprise Use Cases for 5G

5G is coming, so what are the use cases for 5G in enterprise-level business? While the next generation in mobile communication technology isn't yet widely available to the public from wireless carriers, recent research by Gartner suggests many large organizations already have – or plan to – implement 5G solutions for a wide range of uses.

Lots of Hype

For the average consumer, talk of 5G has many trying to calculate what it means for their next phone purchase. Carriers and phone makers are fanning excitement around 5G, but a wide rollout of devices isn't expected from manufacturers until 2020. With top-of-the-line smartphones costing as much as a laptop these days, many are holding on to older phones until new 5G models are available. On the business side, there's lots of buzz about what 5G will mean for edge computing, automation, and other digital transformation initiatives – specifically around Internet of Things (IoT) and video, but there are other use cases for 5G too. Interestingly, because communication service providers will first focus on the needs of individual consumers over more specialized business network requirements, Gartner reports many large organizations plan 5G private networks.

What is 5G?

So, what makes 5G different from 4G? It's all about speed, latency, and capacity. 5G uses millimeter-wave (mmWave) bands on the radio spectrum that are high capacity (bandwidth) and high speed (up to 1000 times faster than 4G). What you get are data speeds like hardwired fiber optic connections delivered wirelessly. 5G also means lower latency – which Verizon defines as the time required for a packet of information to travel round trip between two points. Low latency is critical for things like video collaboration in the workplace and realizing the full potential of coming new apps. 5G will also bring the ability to connect a lot more devices at once, which is a must-have given the explosion of IoT devices that all have to be connected to a network.

Don't Forget Next-Generation Wi-Fi Too

According to Cisco, 5G won't work alone to improve wireless connectivity. It will get a boost from the next generation of Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 6) to add another layer of support in data-congested areas like airports, sports arenas, and enterprise campuses.

Use Cases for 5G

In a survey done in May 2018, Gartner quizzed a broad spectrum of organizations from corporations to government entities and found a whopping 66 percent planned to deploy 5G solutions by the end of 2020. Here are the top six use cases:

1. IoT Communications

As mentioned above, the exponentially greater capacity of 5G enables many more devices to be connected to networks. However, as carriers will initially focus on voice and data for the general public, enterprises looking to capitalize on network slicing and edge computing are moving towards setting up private networks to get their needs met in the shortest time frame possible.

2. Video

While video conferencing already works on current 4G networks, it often leaves plenty to be desired. 5G is widely expected to be the catalyst that finally delivers remote collaboration where it's hard to distinguish telecommuting from being there in person. Any significant reduction in travel costs equals meaningful ROI for organizations.

3. Controls and Automation

5G improvements in speed, latency, and capacity will mean better competitiveness through improvements to robotics, manufacturing controls, and warehouse automation by cutting cables and increasing flexibility, lowering lead times, and cutting reconfiguration costs. Industrial digitalization with 5G opens up opportunities for new revenue streams.

4. Fixed Wireless Access

In areas where 5G will be late in coming – or lacks specific functionality – enterprises are turning to private fixed wireless access alternatives for campuses that need widespread 5G connectivity right away for the maximum gains in mobility, productivity, and performance it brings.

5. High-performance Edge Analytics

5G's network characteristics are seen by leading scholars to be a "facilitator and an accelerator of the next industrial revolution" because 5G allows for data collection and actionable analysis in real time from IoT and other sources for computing on the edge. It opens up new areas of potential data monetization, cognitive analytics, and predictive maintenance – not to mention organizations in areas like healthcare and public safety will be able to respond to data in fractions of a second.

6. Location Tracking

5G allows for far more precise location tracking than what's possible currently in 4G. The technology requires more cell phone towers placed closer together – which allows for better triangulation. That combined with the higher speed and lower latency will mean real-time location tracking, which has applications in fleet management, warehouse efficiency, public safety, autonomous vehicles, and the list goes on and on. The business use cases for 5G in location tracking are endless.

Deploying the Future

5G technology is so new and evolving that few enterprise organizations have the internal expertise it requires, so it may be time to take on a trusted partner who does. CompuCom's Deployment Solutions feature network infrastructure with a focus on 5G. Reach out today to learn how we can accelerate your progress to 5G.