The right path to 5G: upgrading your business

There has been a lot of talk and hype around 5G in Canada, and much of it is focused on what it means for consumers. However, it’s actually businesses that have the most to gain from the era of 5G connectivity. 

Overall, 5G mobile connections are on a steady year-to-year growth, with the total number of connections predicted to reach three billion by 2025. 5G is on the way to becoming the new normal, and it is critical for businesses to become familiar with the technology and the advantages it offers now. We’ve all seen how the pandemic placed increased value on network speed and agility, as well as heightened security. 5G and Wireless Wide Area Networks (Wireless WAN) based on cellular connectivity can help organizations meet these growing demands not only now, but also in a post-pandemic future. 

Carriers are partnering with organizations to offer business-oriented plans and solutions; 5G-enabled business routers and adapters are also widely available on the market, better positioning organizations to take advantage of this powerful, flexible, and reliable form of wireless connectivity today. 

However, many Canadian businesses don’t know where to begin. They need to better understand what 5G means for them and get guidance on how to make the right 5G investments – whether it’s for IoT, retail, manufacturing, mass transit, vehicles, or work-from-home – in order to identify the best path forward.

The WAN is the new LAN

Historically, a wired WAN connects various distributed local area networks (LANs), devices, data and applications to each other. When it comes to cloud applications, the WAN is more and more often replacing the LAN. No longer tethered to an office building, everyone is required to connect to the cloud, whether they are in an office, their home, or even a coffee shop. With this mobility, traditional wired WAN connections must become more agile as the workforce migrates and changes. This is where cellular connectivity comes into play. A Wireless WAN deploys cellular broadband — including 4G LTE and 5G technology — as an essential infrastructure by providing flexible primary or failover cellular connectivity to stores, offices, vehicles, and/or IoT devices at the network’s edge.

Wireless WANs are a key component for organizations as they transform. They expand an organization’s reach to the people, places and things anywhere work or customer interactions are happening. As such, it’s important for businesses to understand and embrace Wireless WAN as an integral part of a 5G investment and rollout.  

Wireless WAN enables businesses to unlock the full potential of 5G for “fibre-fast and cellular-simple” connectivity anywhere you need it and allows businesses to attain the freedom of greater agility and reach without worrying about manageability. 

5G confidence is key

Often having hundreds or even tens of thousands of locations, vehicles, remote workers, and IoT devices, enterprises need the ability to connect, secure, and manage a diversity of endpoints with one platform and without complexity. For smaller businesses or those in specific verticals – such as retail or construction – the scale might be smaller, but the requirements and safety concerns are the same. 

Given the unique requirements of Wireless WANs, before investing in 5G businesses must carefully evaluate the business-readiness and capabilities of 5G-capable routers and adapters (a removable modem and antenna system). As with any RF wireless networking system, your mileage will vary considerably. 

Criteria for success

While the wireless operator rollout of 5G is well underway and Canada is making great progress, we’re still very much at the dawn of 5G’s full potential. It will deliver or enable everything from ultra-low latency and multi-gigabit connections to massive IoT with extended battery life and edge computing. 

As enticing as the value proposition is with 5G, it will never get adopted if the 5G routers and adapters that connect to it cannot meet or exceed critical business requirements for security, performance, and management. As such, businesses need to ensure the 4G LTE and 5G Wireless WAN solutions they are considering meet the following criteria:

  • have security baked in
  • deliver the expected performance
  • provide complete lifecycle management aligned with the size of deployment – from zero-touch deployments to group configuration, assessing uptime and performance, real-time monitoring of security posture, application quality of experience, and cellular data plan consumption to remote troubleshooting  – which are critical to managing a modern WAN

While deciding to adopt 5G as an essential part of your WAN infrastructure is a tremendous decision, embracing the unique “fibre-fast and cellular-simple” capabilities of 5G, along with the agility and reach that only cellular can provide, should not require trading off security, uptime, or manageability. 

The future is 5G, and it’s here.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Jason Falovo
Jason Falovo
Jason Falovo is Vice President and General Manager, Canada at Cradlepoint, a global leader in cloud-delivered LTE and 5G wireless network edge solutions.

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