Putting 5G infrastructure in place now will make for easier rollouts when connectivity is available.

July 12, 2019

5 Min Read


Frank Cittadino

By Frank Cittadino, CEO, QOS Networks

Channel-Partners-Insights-logo-300x109.pngAh, the topic of the year. Every day I seem to see a new article about the carriers racing to deploy their 5G connectivity. Every day I see new vendors popping up with solutions to connect to that fifth-generation cellular network technology and deliver the new capabilities. While there are a lot of nuances within the 5G realm, from carrier methods to delivery capabilities to on-track availability, there’s one main theme that we’re keeping an eye on: How 5G will affect customers, enable them and ultimately integrate 5G with SD-WAN capabilities.

The new speeds that 5G promises are game-changing. Mentions of 5G being 100 times faster than the current 4G technology have opened up the ability for some incredible new technologies to spring to life. We’ve long had the conversation about how SD-WAN can significantly lower latency, and 5G can help drive that story home. As a result, IDC is predicting a 40.4% CAGR from 2017 to 2022 for the SD-WAN infrastructure market.

As more businesses integrate IoT and AI into their workflows, the bandwidth constraints that come with that are compelling enough to slow the implementation of those technologies. The costs alone on increasing bandwidth can be a deterrent. However, when customers are relying on real-time results for their in-store shopping experience or a medical device relies on real-time responses during surgery, an advancement in the network can be all that it takes to open the floodgates. And here is where 5G with its decreased latency steps up to the plate.

5G and SD-WAN

Let’s talk about how 5G and SD-WAN will complement one another. First of all, SD-WAN devices are (usually) built for carrier-agnostic functionality. With a whole slew of 5G opportunities, it may be a mix-and-match play for a while across the network. 5G is rolling out in phases, with particular cities or regions coming online before others. Each carrier seems to have selected its own regions for early-stage roll outs and beta testing, meaning you’ll likely have just one carrier option in your region for awhile. One unique benefit of SD-WAN is it can enable readiness for when that 5G platform comes online. Because of the slow roll out, 5G is really more of a hybrid approach, one that’s relying heavily on 4G while it’s still not widely available. This makes it critical to have devices that can connect and interact with not only 5G, but 4G as well. That 5G capability is the critical point.

Let’s use an example. If you’re McDonalds (disclaimer: we are not affiliated, nor are they our customer) with more than 30,000 sites across the globe, wouldn’t it be excellent to have a platform that allows those sites to be turned “on” – when 5G opens up in California – without having to replace every piece of hardware on-site? And subsequently across the rest of their sites, globally? That’s how SD-WAN can enable 5G in an enterprise.

5G Availability

So, when is 5G expected to be available? Carriers have announced their own launch dates over the next few years. AT&T is live in a handful of cities with an ongoing roll out. Verizon has already brought some cities online and is expected to roll out about 20 more cities throughout 2019. Sprint and T-Mobile, which have begun to deliver 5G as well, are focused more around …

… consumer-based coverage versus business coverage. However, implementing 5G is an ongoing process. It won’t be available overnight and some regions won’t see 5G availability for a few years.

How do businesses prepare for the continuous roll out? Carriers are promising simple conversions to the new technology via an enabled device. SD-WAN solutions across the industry are partnering with carriers partnering with carriers to solidify their integrations and ensure that, when the 5G platform is ready to rock, so are they. This means SD-WAN enabled businesses will be in a prime position to take advantage of 5G speeds.

Whom Will 5G Affect?

As we talk about the new realm of platforms and solutions that become available with such fast connectivity, we have to look at IoT and AI platforms. A few industries will see immediate benefits from 5G speeds:

  •  Retailers and the inclusion of beacons and real-time, in-store marketing platforms based on RFID and location tracking.

  •  Automation platforms manufacturers rely on today and the development of more AI into those workflow streams.

  •  Health care has begun to incorporate more AI into various surgical procedures with intelligence that helps eliminate possible human error.

Any industry that has begun or will begin to see more real-time compute needs and capabilities will benefit from the 5G availability. And while these industries are already prime for the low-latency, low-jitter and optimized network connectivity that SD-WAN provides, 5G will add a new layer of capability in the very near future.

QOS Networks CEO Frank Cittadino has worked with customers across the globe to help educate and design network solutions that fit their business needs. He also served as executive vice president of client solutions for QOS Consulting, the predecessor to QOS. From SD-WAN to the full edge stack, he brings a wealth of knowledge around how to help companies identify the best network solutions for their needs. Follow him on LinkedIn or on Twitter @frank_cittadino or @QOSNetworks.

Read more about:

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like