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A cast of thousands descended on the Mobile World Congress 2018 conference this week to await the arrival of 5G networking. The GSMA consortium that puts on the show estimates that by 2025 about 14 percent of all global connections will be made using a 5G network. That’s roughly 1.2 billion 5G connections annually by 2025.

Delivering 5G networks

To achieve that goal telecommunications carriers have been pouring billions of dollars into building and deploying 5G networks that operate somewhere between 28 to 60 GHz range of wireless bandwidth. The assumption is there will be a new generation of mobile applications employing, for example, augmented and virtual reality that will require massive amounts of bandwidth.

At the show every CEO from any carrier of note said their company was in the best position to take advantage of 5G. There are plenty of trials of 5G networking services being delivered in selected areas. But it’s worth noting in the U.S. at least the government isn’t expected to begin auctioning the bandwidth required for 5G networks until the end of this year.

Scott Raynovich, principal analyst for Futuriom, says the arrival of 5G will be more of an extended process rather than single event. 

“There is great promise for 5G in specific markets such as broadband fiber substitution and connected cars,” says Raynovich. “But the market is complicated with many nuances and the service providers will have to pick their spots.”

The cumulative effect is roughly akin to thousands of people participating in a 5G networking drama in which everyone starts to resemble Vladimir and Estragon in the Waiting for Godot play authored by Samuel Beckett.

4G networking continues to advance

The good news is advances in 4G networking continue to be made. Samsung this week unveiled Samsung Galaxy S9 and s9+ smartphones capable of transferring data at over a gigabyte per second. That’s faster than existing 4G networks can handle. But upgrades to 4G networks that could handle gigabyte-per-second transfer rates are expected to be available before the end of the year. That level of bandwidth will be required to support, for example, slow motion video recording capabilities that Samsung has baked into its smartphones.

At the same time, progress is being made on the building of wireless network services based on Citizens Band Radio Spectrum (CBRS). It may very well turn out the most businesses can access to 5G networking services at much less cost over bandwidth spectrum that was once reserved for truckers long before they see 5G wireless services from carriers.

How MSPs will be impacted

Managed service providers (MSPs) are naturally anxiously awaiting the availability of faster wireless networks. As the applications that get deployed on these networks increase the probability organizations will rely more on MSPs to manage those applications and networks increases. It’s one thing to build a mobile application today versus trying to implement augmented and virtual reality technologies capable of processing and transferring massive amounts of data.

The only real issue is the amount of enthusiasm for these capabilities that network services providers are drumming up at conferences such as Mobile World Congress currently exceeds their ability to actually deliver consistently at price points end users will be able to afford.

Photo:  chombosan / Shutterstock.

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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

  1. I still cannot hardly ever get a 4G connection, i’m lucky if a 3G connection is even available most of the time.


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