AT&T, Verizon, A10 Share 5G Opportunities, Challenges

Become a 5G consultant now.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

May 15, 2019

4 Min Read

5G offers a multitude of challenges and opportunities, and it’s time for partners to start addressing them.

A 2018 Ericsson Mobility Report concluded that 5G networks will cover 20 percent of the world’s population five years from now, with 5G accounting for nearly half (48 percent) of North American mobile subscriptions.

The low latency of 5G means more than just mobile connectivity for consumers. The new wave of technology will impact the business sector more significantly than any of its predecessors, according to Stacey Marx, senior vice president and channel chief for AT&T Partner Solutions.


AT&T’s Stacey Marx

“What I can tell you about 5G that is different than every other alphabet soup (the Gs and the LTEs) is that it’s going to be enterprise-led,” Marx told partners. “It will not be focused on the consumer, at least initially. So that’s great news for every single one of us in this room, because it is ripe for opportunity for us to go out and grab it and define it and work on it.”

Marx was speaking at last week’s TBI Big Event in Chicago. Several of her telecommunications industry peers joined her in encouraging the partner audience to put their mobility practices in place before 5G finishes maturing.


Source: Spiceworks “The State of Corporate Connectivity” Report

A Spiceworks study published on Tuesday revealed that 32% of businesses plan to buy 5G-enabled devices for their employees for when the new network reaches their area. Forty-four percent of those businesses with plans in place also intend to buy a 5G-supported modem.

The ripple effects of 5G could be felt in seemingly far-removed places. Jonathan Erlich, who runs the telecom agent J&B Communications, mused that 5G might replace SD-WAN as the hot connectivity topic that customers demand and partners provide. AT&T has already looked into making its 5G network a connectivity route for its SD-WAN solution.


Verizon’s Robert Shidla

Robert Shidla, Verizon Wireless’ senior manager of emerging technology, dubbed the age of 5G “an innovator’s playground.”

“New industries are popping up daily just because of what we’re all providing from infrastructure perspective and from a technology perspective,” he said.

Shidla noted that Verizon plans to continue the maintenance of its 4G LTE network to 2030. The company will even make investments, rather than completely dumping it.

“Everyone needs to understand that 5G was built upon the shoulders of a giant,” he said.

The event speakers mentioned the internet of things as one of the biggest beneficiaries of 5G. AT&T has made the 5G-IoT connection a frequent refrain. We wrote Tuesday about Verizon joining AT&T and T-Mobile as carriers that have launched an IoT network that allows non-IP traffic. There are fine details in the announcement, but one conclusion is that we should expect a proliferation of new connected devices.

“When we say IoT, I want you to understand that you are IoT and you will be IoT,” RCN Technologies co-founder and president Geoff Yearack said to the partner audience.

The S-Word

Challenges come with the opportunities. The challenge in this case is …… security.

Yasir Liaqatullah, vice president of product management for A10 Networks, said we’ll see millions more new IoT devices connected to the network than with 4G LTE. Data protection becomes more important as mobile traffic increases and densifies. The stakes rise especially high as we count on 5G to power mission-critical applications like autonomous vehicles and remote patient monitoring.

But with the massive amount of devices, mitigating an attack in 5G is like “finding a needle in a haystack,” according to Liaqatullah. He said partners are going to need artificial intelligence to keep up.

“If an attack happens, the service provider has to go through all of this traffic and all of these connections, identify the attack and then automatically put preventive measures in against that, mitigate that attack, create a report and take the network back to normal. For all of that to happen, you need AI,” he said.

Call to Action

If 5G isn’t mature or monetizable yet, it’s close, and the partners who fail to educate themselves now will suffer. JS Group CEO Janet Schijns said partners must discuss 5G opportunities with their customers in 2019 in order to be considered experts in the upcoming years.

“If you’re not today talking about it, you really could be in trouble,” Schijns said. “And I think it comes down to thinking about how you’re going to present that to your customer.”

Check out our other recap of the TBI Big Event.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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