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5 things you need to know about 5G

John Brandon | March 22, 2016
While it may still be years away, understanding how 5G will impact the enterprise now will help you plan accordingly.

“5G will lead to a dramatic increase in cell sites (which due to the higher frequency a lot of them will have significantly shorter range) and demand for backhaul,” says Entner. “At this time, we don't know yet what technology will be used to transmit the data over the air. One camp says we need a new technology another says we are fine with what we have.” 

3. The trials are already underway 

Apart from the AT&T and Verizon testbeds, many companies have announced trials in the 5G wireless space, including Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson, Fujitsu, NEC, Nokia and Samsung. 

Sharma says there are many key players to keep an eye on. Google recently acquired Alpental to help with millimeter wave access for more precise location tracking. Microsoft has started a TV White Spaces trial, which taps into the unlicensed spectrum not used by TV broadcasters. And, Facebook has created the Open Compute Initiative as part of Internet.org to build wireless networks for developing countries and provide access. 

4. Wi-Fi won’t be going any anytime soon 

Greer mentioned how it might seem like Wi-Fi technology will not be as important over the next few years as 5G becomes available. That’s a mistake, he says, because both networks will continue to co-exist, and Wi-Fi technology will also evolve rapidly. As Entner points out, the main impetus for 5G is not related to the corporate use of Wi-Fi in a building but to the escalating number of devices that will connect over the next three to four years. 

“5G is important as we are beginning to outgrow the current network design top to bottom,” says Entner. “We need faster speeds and more devices on the network than we expected 10 years ago and we need to solve with a new approach rather than duct tape and spit. It will help businesses to connect more wireless devices with faster speeds and lower latencies.” 

5. It will come online overseas before the U.S. 

Sharma says that NTT Docomo has also announced trials in Japan, and Entner says that South Korea will likely have 5G running in time for the Winter Olympics in 2018. That’s not necessarily a disadvantage for the U.S. because the enterprise will be able to see how those launches transpire, how users respond, monitor which devices become available to support the new standard, and be mindful of any infrastructure glitches. 

“I expect you will see 5G first spread in Asia,” says Ted Rapport, an IEEE Fellow and founding director of NYU Wireless. “Look for U.S. trials later this year, both Verizon and AT&T have announced trials, and many of our NYU Wireless Industrial Affiliate companies already have prototype products working at multi-gigabit per second data rates.”

 

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