Our IT Executive Roundtables are invite-only events hosted by peers for peers that bring together a select group of senior IT leaders from across industries for topic-driven, intimate dialog on current trends and topics. The group met remotely to discuss enterprise strategies for 5G led by the CIO of a leading independent tire and wheel retailer company. This Session was sponsored by Celona.
5G has what it takes to bring a paradigm shift in the cellular network space. What challenges can businesses solve by adopting 5G? How does it compare to Wi-Fi? What are the differences between public and private 5G?
At the start of the discussion, attendees talked about the business applications of 5G. A head of sales mentioned that 5G could solve wireless connectivity issues that Wi-Fi can’t. It can enable organizations to deal with the 21st-century pressures of efficiency, growth, and profitability. An IT executive said they plan to use 5G to build a high-speed, resilient network for their cloud-driven infrastructure. An engineer from a parking company added that 5G enablement could allow them to roll out their equipment, have smooth intercom traffic, and support credit card payments. A CIO told the audience they wanted to use 5G to build an alternate wireless network for their facilities. Finally, a head of lifecycle management remarked that they are exploring how to incorporate 5G into existing and newer technologies for a better customer experience.
A participant stated that they use an air-gapped version of the wireless network to give their mobile workers access to internal systems. Traditionally, the users had to use VPN to latch onto the network, which was a usability challenge. To overcome that, they have started using a modern authentication solution that has simplified the login process. Other challenges faced with traditional Wi-Fi are related to security, coverage, reliability, slow rollout, network latency, and network handoff. E.g., If you move around and your Wi-Fi connection changes, you sometimes have to reenter application data because the network handoff didn’t happen properly. Moreover, if you have hundreds of stores across the nation, installing access points on all of them is a tedious process. Enabling mission-critical applications at the edge can also be a challenge with Wi-Fi. The network latency incurred in the to-and-fro transfer of data can create bottlenecks and affect user experience. 5G has the potential to solve most-if-not-all of these challenges.
It’s important to understand the difference between public and private 5G. Depending on your unique business use case and operational requirements, one may be a better fit than the other. Public 5G is the wireless coverage offered by telecom providers. Private 5G refers to a wireless network that’s completely disconnected. You can set up private 5G for your enterprise by leveraging the same infrastructure and cellular technology that the telecom providers use. This is like taking Wi-Fi technology from a vendor and using it to deploy a private Wi-Fi network in your environment.
A speaker commented that the rules and regulations of reserving 5G spectrums for private networks vary by country and region. Most countries have either already opened the private network spectrum or are in the process of doing so. The US, UK, Germany, and most of Northern Europe have already opened the spectrum. Mexico, Canada, India, Australia, and Japan are planning to follow suit in the next year or so. This widespread adoption results from the collective realization, at the geopolitical and international level, that 5G is the future of wireless communication. The last time enterprises got access to spectrum was in the 1990s, which led us to the mobility revolution. This large-scale opening of the spectrum for 5G has a similar significance. The technological advancements in the 5G space will trigger the next great industrial revolution.