The time when managed service providers (MSPs) will need to sit down with customers to have a serious conversation concerning the rollout of 5G wireless networks has arrived.

While there’s already a massive amount of hype surrounding 5G networks, cities across the U.S. are just now starting to allow carriers to put the small cells in everything, from light posts to sewers that will be needed to deliver true 5G services at scale. According to a report from McKinsey & Co., the general expectation is those efforts will result in 5G services being widely available by 2022.

Businesses are unclear about what 5G services mean for them

A survey of 200 telecommunication professionals conducted at a recent 5G World Summit conference by Cradlepoint, a provider of LTE-based networking equipment, finds that 78 percent of respondents think both 5G and 4G Gigabit-Class LTE will impact their technology roadmap in the next 1-2 years, but 79 percent admit they have limited or no understanding of how 5G and 4G Gigabit-Class LTE differ.

Nearly half the respondents (46 percent) revealed they have made only minor or no preparations at all to implement 5G. Only a fifth (21 percent) say they are fully prepared for adoption.

The general expectation is that as 5G networking prices eventually decline, more remote offices will connect to internet services over a wireless network versus continuing to rely on a wired connection. That transition may take a while, but the implications for both existing wireless networks based on access points and controllers and software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) is likely to be profound.

Many organizations may decide that all the IT infrastructure currently required to provide networking services to a remote office simply isn’t worth the trouble. This particularly rings true when every device in that office can connect to a 5G service that is capable of one day delivering bandwidth of 10 Gigabits-per-second, which is roughly 10 times faster than an existing 4G connection.

Carriers are already building out a channel to deliver 5G services

AT&T and IBM just announced an expansion on their existing alliance to include IBM relying on 5G networking services from AT&T to deliver applications to end customers. A raft of similar 5G service agreements between carriers and other services providers is clearly in the offing.

As the marketing crescendo surrounding 5G wireless services increases, MSPs should expect to find themselves fielding 5G questions from customers, many of which as MSPs well know are clearly not in love with their existing Internet service provider (ISV). MSPs would be well advised to set some realistic 5G expectations for those customers today. 

If not, they run the risk of waking up one day to discover those customers have been enticed by carriers to sign a 5G wireless contract even though the total cost of that service may turn out to be prohibitively expensive. Carriers have already made it clear they intend to price 5G networks as a premium service for many years to come.

At this juncture, the one thing everyone can agree on is that 5G is coming. The real issue now is determining the best path moving forward. MSPs may one day even find themselves managing a raft of new multimedia applications being delivered to the network edge that still need to be secured.

In the meantime, the challenge will be helping customers determine which transport makes the most sense for what type of application based on the total cost of the service. In most cases, the only entity most organizations are going to trust to help them make that decision is their friendly neighborhood MSP.

Ready Set Managed

Photo: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

One Comment

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    Good one article. I got some useful information about managed services and current process.

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