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4 questions to kickstart your 5G mobility planning

How 5G will help transform business mobility and how to prepare for that change

5G Network Mobile Device

As we move closer to broad implementation of 5G across Canada, it’s clear 5G will enhance mobility beyond connecting people, to fully enabling IoT technologies and opening new possibilities for artificial intelligence and machine learning, among many others.

For IT decision makers, this means planning for enhanced mobility should start now (if not already underway). Here are four questions to consider when preparing for 5G mobility.

1. How will your business harness 5G mobility?

The fifth generation of connectivity is one of the biggest shifts in technology ever. 5G mobility will bring faster connection speeds, ultra-low latency and vastly increased network capacity to allow for millions of new connected devices. By the end of 2024, Ericsson predicts that 5G subscriptions will reach 1.9 billion, which will account for over 20 percent of all mobile subscriptions. The peak of LTE subscriptions is projected for 2022, at around 5.3 billion subscriptions, with the number declining slowly thereafter as 5G becomes more widespread.

IT decision makers will need to shift their thinking and planning to prepare for real-time connectivity. In the same way that 4G and LTE made new things possible on mobile, ushering in the app-economy, CIOs will need to set their sights on the horizon once again. Consider Amazon as an example. The company has virtualized every aspect of its business on the backend. Through AI and machine learning, they have integrated everything from product information to purchase shipping to customer support and returns—all into a single online customer experience.

5G will make it possible for other businesses that have not yet embraced cloud computing to virtualize functions of their business, adding speed and efficiency to their operations.

2. When and how will networks change?

Networks, and the traffic they carry, should evolve rapidly over the next two years. Greater speed, capacity and reliability are expected to create a boom in productivity.

These enhancements will also introduce new network management techniques such a network slicing. This will enable IT to partition a single physical network into multiple virtual networks that are dedicated to specific purposes, such as future IoT devices or existing mobile workforce devices. Companies will even be able to create bespoke networks to send and receive critical information—extending the security, speed and reliability of their office network.  

Other network changes will benefit mobile employees in their daily work. For example, when an employee is working away from the office and needs to access large files stored in the cloud, they would likely need to find secure WiFi before transferring any data. 5G mobility will make lightning-fast, secure access possible from anywhere. In addition to increased network performance, unlimited data plans, which have already begun to roll out, are removing barriers like data overages in preparation of next generation mobility.

3. Where to start fortifying security measures?

The benefits of 5G mobility will grow as more connected devices come online and use cases multiply. This growth in connected devices will require security measures to evolve in parallel, ensuring new vulnerabilities are met with adequate protective measures.

IT managers should assess their current endpoint security solutions and plan to adapt or grow in areas where more connected devices are expected.

Laptops, mobile devices and other wireless connections are prime examples of potential vulnerabilities. Each device with a remote connection to the network creates a potential entry point for security threats. With all the growth in mobility that 5G will enable, IT managers should assess their current endpoint security solutions and plan to adapt or enhance them in areas where they’re planning to support more connected devices.

But security of the future is not limited to devices and endpoints, it needs to be application-level security and AI security as well.  Most of us trust the security of the devices we use, but we may be overlooking security risks at the software level in things like free mobile applications. In some cases, the risks are hidden in the terms of use, which makes it difficult for individuals or businesses to have any legal recourse if a breach of privacy or security occurs as a result of using the app. Businesses need to account for this risk with the right application-level security solutions and policies to ensure their people and their digital assets are protected.

4. What can your company do now?

A recent study by IDC research predicts that by 2025, six billion mobile users and IoT applications will have at least one data interaction every 18 seconds. The same study predicts 30 percent of these interactions will be in real time. This suggests a tidal wave of data is on the horizon.  

Business and IT leaders should prepare for this massive swell in data now. Consider the types of data you collect and manage: how they will be stored and accessed? Will all data be accessible to all employees from anywhere, or will some be excluded from network access? Businesses that set their data parameters in advance will be better equipped to take advantage of the speed and availability of data in a 5G-enabled world.

The potential for 5G to change the workplace and enhance mobility is exciting, and enterprise mobility leaders have an important role to play in harnessing these new capabilities. Asking the right questions and planning accordingly is a good first step.