Thriving in the 5G Era: Unravelling the Potential of 5G Connectivity for Enterprises

5G Era

As consumer demand rises, and network availability expands, 5G is becoming more viable for widespread use — by 2027 it’s expected to cover 75 per cent of the world’s population. However, it’s still no secret that 5G uptake is dawdling and many enterprises still aren’t enjoying its benefits. Here, Hamish White, CEO and founder of telecoms consultancy and software provider Mobilise, explores what’s required to make enterprise 5G era use cases a widespread reality.

In contrast to previous generations, 5G can be split into three separate use cases, each with different qualities that favour different connectivity qualities — Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC) and massive Machine-Type Communication (mMTC).  eMBB, as its name suggests, builds on connectivity capabilities already fulfilled by 4G, typically mobile connectivity for consumer telecoms applications, while URLLC and mMTC are new use cases that haven’t been possible before the 5G era arrival.

New Generation of Use Cases

While eMBB offers businesses greater agility and broader, faster download speeds, the true value of 5G lies in URLLC and mMTC use cases. URLLC caters to latency-sensitive connected devices that need extremely reliable real-time data transfer for success, and is useful for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. M2M comms is becoming increasingly popular in smart factories, which use real-time connectivity to enable robotic process automation, autonomous vehicle networks and even augmented reality (AR) scenarios.

mMTC, on the other hand, unlocks the potential of the 5G era for Internet of Things (IoT) deployment, as it can connect up to one million devices per square kilometre. IoT deployments have traditionally been limited by 4G’s limited capacity to do this, but 5G mMTC has over ten times the capacity of 4G for IoT. This makes the possibility of connecting devices for smart cities much more feasible, providing the infrastructure to connect traffic systems, refuse collection and electricity distribution to an overarching city-wide network.

Although network operators are currently working to build the required infrastructure to support all of 5G, the current set up doesn’t facilitate widespread access to each of these use cases.

Going Private

Private networks are completely built, managed and maintained by enterprises themselves. The network is exclusively used by enterprise-authorized devices within a defined location for exclusive use by the enterprise. This offers absolute control of where connectivity is available and unparalleled security, with no responsibility lying with external service providers and no concern around potential interference from other public network users.

However, private 5G networks are localized — the network’s only available within the area where the enterprise has deployed it, limiting its use to only within a localized area. Additionally, there are some regulatory concerns around 5G private networks. To access certain bandwidths of the 5G spectrum, businesses may find it necessary to work with a network operator or obtain a government license to use spectrum in a given location.

Taking a Slice

Alternatively, service providers (SPs) can use network slicing to allocate portions of the 5G network, and certain features, to enterprise customers. Each network ‘slice’ is uniquely customized to each customer’s requirements — be it massive bandwidth, ultralow latency or large device density — to enable the use cases each enterprise wants to develop.

Network slicing has been heavily invested in by huge vendors including Ericsson and Nokia and offers many benefits for enterprises striving for the success of the 5G era. Acquiring just a portion of a carrier’s network means that an enterprise customer’s dedicated network is supported by existing mobile infrastructure — enterprises don’t have to deal with the logistics or cost implications of setting up their own network.

Additionally, relying on existing carrier infrastructure means there’s no geographical barriers to the ‘slice’, it’s available everywhere that the telecoms network already exists. Enterprises can connect devices from anywhere within the range of the network, not just from within the boundaries of one facility or premise.

Within telecoms itself, network slicing is widely becoming recognized as a source of great business potential, with Ericsson estimating its worth to reach $200 million USD by 2030. However, network slicing will require network operators to deploy 5G cores across the public network to facilitate the complete set of use cases possible.

Be it private networks, network slicing or general 5G deployment, Mobilise helps SPs and businesses to better understand the enterprise telecoms landscape, including IoT capabilities through its mobile strategy services. With unrivalled experience in 5G implementation strategy development, Mobilise’s 5GTM framework offers a modular suite of end-to-end support services that help operators to smoothly transition from 4G to 5G, build a new infrastructure including RAN, OSS and BSS, as well as solutions on how best to maximize the benefits of data, analytics and AI.

While some argue that network slicing and private networks are competitors in the quest for en masse 5G adoption, in reality, they actually complement each other. Both have a place in supporting businesses to launch their own 5G-enabled use cases and should both be considered for ultimate, widespread 5G success.

About Mobilise

Mobilise is a leading provider of SaaS solutions to the telecommunications industry. Focused on delivering highly engaging digital-first service propositions with excellent customer experience, Mobilise has a proven track record, deep industry knowledge and a team of specialists to support clients to building and executing transformational strategies.

Clients range from large corporate organizations with over 100,000 employees to small enterprises with under 20 employees. Mobilise has a deep knowledge of the telecoms business model and our experience includes working with over 40 service providers across eight markets for brands including Virgin, Dixon’s Carphone, Red Bull Mobile, Manx Telecom and Freenet.