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Scouting out the Network Horizon

June 06, 2018

Understanding the truth behind 5G - when to expect it and how it will impact your business.

Most companies wish they could future-proof network investments. It appears IT decision makers are looking at 5G wireless as a way to get around the challenges of physical infrastructure. That, and network function virtualization (NFV), are the top two picks in a recent survey about which networking technologies will best support innovation.

5G indeed holds much promise for many issues, and high-speed mobility clearly is highly anticipated. But, advises WIRED, “don’t believe the hype — the shift to 5G won't happen quickly. The carriers have to upgrade their massive infrastructures, for one. Also, 5G is about more than just shuttling GBs to and from your iPhone more quickly. The 5G revolution will cast a much wider net. It’s an information conduit being built to connect self-driving cars, VR headsets, delivery drones, and billions of interconnected devices inside the home.”

The standards for 5G are just now being finalized. Building out the infrastructure to implement and support these myriad applications will take time.

Getting a fix

Initially, at least, 5G will be implemented as a fixed wireless technology and depend largely on microcells, which means service providers will have to deploy many more transmitters than they currently do with 4G. It likely won’t begin to gather steam until 2020 or possibly 2022, and will tee off the rollout of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV).

“I think the whole economic model of 5G is premised on SDN and NFV being commercially viable and practical and deployed,” SDN pioneer Nick McKeown tells Fierce Wireless. “It’s hard to imagine the economics working unless significant parts of the infrastructure are based on SDN and NFV.”

Fortunately, enterprises don’t have to wait for 5G to pan out before digging into the benefits of SDN and NFV. To find out more, go to A Software-Defined Platform for the Digital Age.

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