Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Introducing the 5G Workforce

It’s been a long time since a technology breakthrough generated as much anticipation and fanfare as 5G. Buzz around it has been building for some time and with good reason: 5G will fuel an economic and social revolution that disrupts how companies operate while opening-up incredible new opportunities for those who have the talent to support it, a 5G workforce.

To fully grasp the necessity for a 5G workforce, you need to recognize the impact this technology standard is going to have. Consider the following:

  • PwC’s “The Impact of 5G: Creating New Value across Industries and Society” reports that 5G will fuel a variety of new opportunities. This includes “the optimization of service delivery, decision-making, and end-user experience,” which “will result in $13.2 trillion in global economic value by 2035.”
  • Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report states that the number of 5G smartphone subscriptions worldwide will exceed 500 million this year. That’s double from 2020 and the momentum will continue in 2022 when subscriptions are expected to pass one billion.

With numbers like these, it’s easy to understand the excitement around 5G. But for businesses to see the benefits, they need employees with skill sets that extend beyond the 3G and 4G worlds we are leaving behind — these networks utilized similar technologies which eliminated the need to upskill teams, hastening the transition from 3G to 4G.

This is not the case now. 5G requires people with aptitude and experience in an entirely different set of technologies. This explains why Boston Consulting Group estimates that it will create 3.8 million to 4.6 million jobs in the US alone.

As businesses begin searching to construct their 5G workforces, various skills are required to start building your 5G workforce. Some examples of areas that your 5G professionals must be skilled in include:

Software-Defined Networking (SDN): You will be looking for people that have experience with SDN, a new architecture that turns a wireless network infrastructure from a close environment to a more agile and cost-effective network, where external controller control is moved from network hardware to external controller. This allows teams to quickly introduce new services or changes. Many view SDN as the key to enabling 5G to meet its ultimate promise.

Some specific skills here include network engineering experience focused on designing, implementing, deploying and supporting a production network at an enterprise-scale as well as at an enterprise scale

Software-Defined Radio Access Networks (SoftRAN): SoftRAN is key to supporting network slicing, which is the process of creating multiple virtual networks. While each is part of a physical network, network slices can be automated and used for distinct applications with specific requirements.  

When it comes to SoftRAN, you’re seeking people who have experience in network programming, radio frequency transmission systems, C++, Linux, and Java.

Edge Computing: While 5G delivers dramatically increased network speeds (4X that of 4G LTE), it’s the edge that dramatically reduces latency. It brings the computing capabilities we experience in the network to the user, regardless of location. This includes those areas notorious for spotty connectivity that we are all familiar with. Ultimately, the edge is essential for 5G meeting its full promise.

Your edge computing people will have experience in continuous integration and delivery, Java and Python, as well as edge/IoT applications and system design.

Network Virtualization (NV): NV removes the network’s dependency on hardware, allowing it to run virtually on top of the physical network, where it can accelerate the deployment of applications, improve security, and reduce costs.

Key NV-related skills include experience with continuous configuration automation tools, application programming interfaces (APIs), programming languages, as well as success in deploying and optimizing VMware NSX environments and NSX virtual networking implementations.

5G is likely to be the standard in just a few short years, and its impact will be felt across all industries. In healthcare, a connected ecosystem will be born that is predictive, preventative, personalized, and participatory. In manufacturing, we will see new smart factories that fully leverage the power of automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality for troubleshooting, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The list goes on.

All these innovations and many, many more are within reach but will be fueled by the next generation workers who have the requisite skills to make it all happen. For businesses, the time to begin assembling your 5G workforce and forging an ecosystem of partners to help with this journey begins now.