Network Evolution

Building the infrastructure for the changing face of IT

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The sky's the limit with 5G wireless communication

As the reality of 5G wireless communications builds, enterprises are looking toward new ways of doing business with higher speed and increased capacity.

We all know of institutions that are too big to fail. What about communication services in which failure is simply not an option?

According to many analysts and industry experts, the answer lies in 5G wireless communication.

Imagine smart roads that can alert municipalities when it's time to plow snow or repair potholes. Or consider an electric grid knowing about a catastrophic power failure before it happens and fixing the problem in real time. Better yet, think about a person in need of life-saving surgery miles from the closest surgeon, who nevertheless receives the procedure through the use of telemedicine, where the surgeon uses computing power and robotics to control the operation.

In each case, a failure in communication might be disastrous. But with next-generation 5G wireless communication getting closer, faster broadband wireless speeds and increased capacity will deliver information better than it can with today's 4G networks.

Therein lies the greatest excitement about 5G; entirely new business applications will be possible, according to Craig Mathias, principal analyst with Farpoint Group, a wireless and mobile advisory firm in Ashland, Mass. While a lot of new technology is being developed, "the business model impact is going to be more interesting than the technology," he said.

The required 5G technology is nothing minor, however. A host of network trials, research and development of 5G devices, standards and specifications development, and government policies for 5G infrastructure buildouts stand between the promise and the reality of 5G technology. This year, carriers like Verizon and AT&T are expanding 5G tests in cities across the U.S. and globally. Verizon is also showcasing its 5G development during the 2018 Winter Olympics. In addition, organizations are working in partnership with telecommunications companies to develop 5G devices and the applications to be used on them.

That said, 5G wireless communication is coming, and enterprises are paying attention. The ones thinking ahead are putting plans in place so they're prepared to take advantage of 5G technology when it's commercially available. In this issue of Network Evolution, we explore what companies are doing to be 5G-ready.

It won't happen overnight, much less in 2018. But this is the year for enterprises to sit up, take notice and start planning if they haven't yet.

Also in this issue, network managers share their reasons for choosing smaller software-defined networking vendors instead of major providers like Cisco or VMware. In addition, one unified communications expert offers his tips for consolidating UC features and the pros and cons of deploying UC across the enterprise. Finally, in this month's Subnet, learn about Durham County, N.C.'s, plan to create a more seamless experience through network automation.

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