5G here! 5G there! 5G (almost) everywhere! As with previous generational wireless upgrades, the hype around 5G has been extremely pervasive and over-the-top. Where available, 5G promises more reliable and speedier connectivity for end users, and who doesn’t want that? But what about 5G for businesses? What does 5G mean for enterprise connectivity?
Well, two words – sad trumpet. While 4G’s successor has been a source of child-like excitement for consumers, business use of 5G and/or adoption of 5G-enabled technologies has been, and will continue to be, low and slow. Here are three main reasons why 5G isn’t that much of a boon for business right now:
When the world upgraded from 3G to 4G, the application landscape drastically improved, and it changed the way we communicated and worked. And while 5G brings an exponential increase in speed – up to 20 times the capacity of 4G – it’s not necessarily needed for most business operations. Not only does 4G adequately support most enterprises, but an immediate upgrade to 5G will provide low ROI in many cases (see “Higher Costs” below). Basically, most businesses are covered – and covered well – by 4G.
More bandwidth consumption equals higher costs, of course. It’s true that we all want faster internet and would gladly flip a switch to use it, but it’s not always that simple. Using 5G’s full capability at this point requires upgrades to systems, stacks and devices, resulting in a potentially huge investment. Not to mention, many carriers are charging a premium for 5G access. (And when the novelty wears off and 5G becomes the standard, that premium will disappear – so why not wait a bit if your business functionality doesn’t demand an upgrade now?)
Location, Location, Location
The location of a business’s offices and/or workers is a determining factor in the utilization of 5G. First of all, 5G’s gradual rollout means it’s only available in major metropolitan areas, which might prove limiting for your operations. Second, the move to remote work would make an extensive 5G business upgrade a superfluous cost if employees are accessing their home internet connections instead.
So, Does 5G Make Sense for Business at All?
The short answer is, “It depends.” An upgrade to 5G might prove advantageous for high-bandwidth industries like media and construction, or other businesses that work with exceptionally large files or do lots of streaming. Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, predicts a use case for 5G in B2B2C scenarios like health care and education, as they deliver virtual services or tap into remote capabilities within their own environments.
Other fields that might see an immediate benefit from 5G are real estate, sales (of any kind) or any other occupation where workers consistently travel. A simple device upgrade could improve communications and efficiencies for folks outside the office.
At this point, actively transitioning to 5G would be cumbersome and unnecessarily expensive for most businesses. The plans, applications, equipment and devices are not quite there yet – it will take some time for 5G enablement to become the norm, much less the affordable norm.
If a business isn’t happy with its internet connectivity, there are more ways to get what you want out of it, like working with a managed services provider to optimize cost or regulate access. 5G is a pretty, shiny new thing – and everybody wants it – but it might not be what your business needs to thrive just yet.
Want to learn more about optimizing your enterprise mobility program? Connect with a vMOX expert today.