A 5G router could be coming soon to an office near you (if not your actual office). Samsung recently received FCC approval for the first commercial indoor and outdoor 5G routers, designed for use in homes and offices. Verizon is planning to roll out the first 5G service starting in Sacramento, Calif., possibly as early as this fall. AT&T also plans to begin 5G service late in 2018.
“These are the first 5G millimeter-wave products in the world to secure government regulatory approval,” Samsung said in a statement. “These products have already been proven through months of field trials in multiple markets.”
Spencer Suderman, a principal consultant with technology research and advisory firm ISG, said he expects 5G technology will ultimately replace WiFI as a single technology to connect all wireless devices.
“Expect to see enterprises initially deploy 5G in greenfield opportunities such as manufacturing facilities where IoT demand is growing, call centers where wired PCs and phones limit flexibility, and entertainment venues where large crowds can consume mobile applications that enhance the user experience,” Suderman said. “Eventually, brownfield opportunities will emerge as WiFi access points reach end of life and a suitable replacement is required.”
Jeff Baher, Dell EMC’s executive director of networking and solutions, says fixed 5G networks could make financial sense for businesses with limited broadband options.
“Enterprises can basically leap into fixed 5G applications without laying out expensive fiber of wireline infrastructure,” Baher said. “This is already in place in Korea, Russia and Japan.”
Mobile network operators are bullish on 5G technology, and are aggressively pushing trials and proofs of concept, because the technology is 100 times faster and has 10 times less latency than 4G, said Brian Lavallée, senior director of portfolio marketing at telecommunications networking company Ciena.
“These performance gains will open new applications such as autonomous vehicles, remote robotics and automated manufacturing, and virtual and augmented reality,” Lavallée said. “New use cases such as these, and many more that we’re not even yet aware of today, will impact how organizations conduct day-to-day business by opening up new business opportunities and improving existing business practices. Broad 5G service coverage and commercialization will be a multi-year journey that will require investments in time, resources and, of course, capital. However, the performance gains will unleash many new revenue opportunities.”
And while the technology opens up new avenues for voice and data on mobile phones, it’s also promising for industrial uses on networks with a large number of nodes, says NXP Digital Networking’s Nikolay Guenov, senior director of product management.
“It would allow for the creation of more high-capacity hot spots within a single location,” Guenov said. “And 5G wireless would establish edge-node computing capabilities more effectively -- by moving the computing capability closer to terminals and by reducing the latency and transport bandwidth requirements.”
In terms of 5G drawbacks, Nikolay sees the usual hangups of a new technology: “Timelines and cost to deploy initial systems. There are also still some technical challenges. But, overall, I believe there are no extraordinary drawbacks that the industry can’t resolve.”
As for existing cellular routers, 5G will have a role where wifi-connected devices can’t easily access a wired internet connection, said Chris Koeneman, senior vice president at mobile management firm MOBI.
“IoT is a good example of this type of connectivity,” Koeneman said. “This also comes up in transportation applications in which WiFi connected devices are connecting to a WiFi router and the WiFi router is providing access to the Internet. It’s this application that will be helped tremendously by a 5G router. The transition from 4G to 5G in this application will happen quickly.”