5G infrastructure will continue to be important for companies that expand their data centers to secondary and edge sites. Organizations will need to consider how to include 5G into their plans as they incorporate more IoT and edge computing devices.
To prepare for 5G, organizations must look at existing infrastructure and see which appliances and networks support it. They should also examine what features they will need from vendors as they expand their 5G capabilities.
Tech features to look for in enterprise 5G infrastructure
Companies hesitant to invest in 5G infrastructure due to the costs can find relief knowing that 5G is backward compatible with other wireless technologies, including 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi. That means they can slowly replace hardware with newer models that integrate 5G and simultaneously aggregate the standard with other communication systems to ease into their 5G future.
5G is optimal for IoT networks and edge computing because of its low power requirements. It extends battery life by shutting down devices during low traffic periods and provides companies with some creativity in their architecture designs because devices won't have to be connected to an always-on power source.
The combination of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) offers several advantages to companies. Wi-Fi 5 is better suited to congested physical spaces with obstacles and little line of sight, while 5G works best in open spaces that require high speeds and low latency. Organizations can combine both to offer high connectivity and support a growing remote workforce, whether for employees working from home or IoT and edge devices processing data for the network as a whole.
5G networks can be either public or private networks. Public options include using the network slicing features of communication service providers (CSPs). Companies can build their own private 5G network to ensure connectivity and security. Those that do will need to consider the spectrum they use for the radio network, the 5G infrastructure they'll need with relevant features and interfaces, microcells to transmit and receive data, and external connectivity to public mobile networks if needed.
5G infrastructure vendors to consider
5G infrastructure vendors offer a variety of products and services that help organizations to build 5G-capable data centers. Companies like Ericsson, Cisco and others offer products that can enable data centers to improve their networks or build new private networks.
Ericsson offers end-to-end 5G infrastructure options, including their 5G RAN, 5G Core and 5G Transport products. Their 5G radio access network (RAN) product offers a complete package to customers with antennas, radios, baseband and RAN software that manages it all. Ericsson has been a leader in 5G technology evolution, which helps to evolve the technologies, standardize 5G architectures and create the products to support its deployment.
Cisco is focused on offering a cloud-to-client approach to 5G. Their 5G offerings emphasize secure routing, gateways, firewalls and converged SDN transport. Their 5G Transport and xHaul product is considered one of the best RANs as it offers maximum flexibility in connectivity types (fronthaul, midhaul and backhaul). It has a strong ecosystem in Open virtual RAN (vRAN) options; however, its RAN portfolio doesn't include macro/microcell base stations.
It unifies multivendor architectures into an open architecture that simplifies a converged access network across access types and locations. It uses Open vRAN to build and validate open software products and an Open Access IP/Ethernet architecture to efficiently manage data transport.
Nokia's early commitment to 5G through its vRAN, cloud RAN and Open RAN options make it a front-runner in the 5G space. It offers a full slate of 5G products, from their AirScale RAN products and antennas to their AirFrame edge computing products and even microwave transmission options. Customers can use Nokia products to connect to cloud networks or design their own private 5G network. 5G vendors and CSPs can use the ReefShark chipset in their 5G hardware products to reduce each element's size, cost and power consumption.
Samsung's early entry into the mobile market means they've got a solid history of producing leading technology, including a complete commercial 5G fixed wireless access product. It includes commercial form-factor 5G home routers for use indoors and outdoors, 5G RANs and vRANs, and AI-powered transport services and maintenance tools. They also offer a commercial multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) product, Massive MIMO Radio, which has active antennas in a package that lets CSPs increase network capacity without buying more spectrum or adding more base stations.
Another leader in the evolution of mobile technology, Qualcomm is a key contributor to the standards defining 5G, including 3GPP, IEEE 802.11 and UBBA. Their Snapdragon 5G mobile platform features several key 5G technologies, including basebands, RF transceivers and RF front-end components. Their 5G RAN Platform enables connectivity to and from public and private networks. Their 5G Modem-RF systems support beam forming, steering and tracking, making them ideal for large-scale deployments.