For decades now businesses have been forced to balance the convenience of wireless networks with the speed and security of wired connections. In most situations, this meant choosing wired connections and having to run miles of cables throughout their facilities.
As consumer 5G technology continues to grow in popularity and become more and more proven over time, however, it seems that this balance has truly shifted.
Understanding 5G Technology
5G is the 5th generation wireless technology that is quickly being rolled out around the world for commercial use. It is most commonly used in cell phones, smart cars, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This is all made possible by the fact that 5G offers many significant improvements over 4G LTE, including the following:
- Speeds that can reach up to 20 Gbps depending on the exact configurations used (Compared with 4G LTE speeds of up to 1 Gbps).
- Latency on 5G is virtually non-existent, with response times as low as 1ms compared to an average of around 50ms on 4G LTE networks.
- 5G is able to be configured to handle a far greater number of devices in a given area.
- Data encryption technologies are being developed specifically for 5G networks, which will be essential for business use.
While the vast majority of 5G networks today are from commercial providers, businesses are looking to this technology to connect their systems and users. A private 5G network will allow companies to provide extremely fast and reliable connectivity to users throughout their facilities.
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What Equipment is Needed for a Private 5G Network?
Simply standing up a private 5G network does not take a huge amount of equipment. You will need to have the hardware necessary to transmit and receive data as well as the servers and routers to process and move it.
Depending on the size of your facility, this may require just a single piece of hardware, or might need many devices to ensure full network coverage.
Once the network is in place, however, you will also need to ensure all of your devices are able to connect to and communicate with your 5G network. In most cases, this will mean upgrading every existing system you have.
For some equipment, such as servers and PCs, this means purchasing a 5G card that will allow the connectivity. For other devices, including phones and tablets, it will usually mean replacing your existing equipment.
Anytime you are setting up a new network technology, it is going to require quite a bit of equipment up front and 5G is no exception.
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Engineering a Private 5G Network
Engineering any type of private network is going to take a lot of thought and planning in order to ensure it gets done properly, and that is definitely the case with 5G. You will need to identify your exact network needs in order to ensure you have the right equipment deployed to the right locations.
For example, a company that wants to incorporate a private 5G network into a large office building will have a very different design than one that wants to use 5G for connectivity to multiple remote locations. Fortunately, 5G can be used in just about any situation.
It is even possible to connect locations through public 5G networks into your private network, which will be quite common with smaller remote offices.
When going through the engineering process, your team will need to look at a number of different things, such as:
- Available Spectrum – Private 5G still operates over public airways, which means you need to get approved to use a set wavelength on the 5G spectrum for your area.
- Security – Anytime you move to any wireless technology it is critical to have proper encryption in place since the data can be picked up by anyone who is nearby.
- Device Access – Related to security is the ability for devices to connect to your 5G network. It will be important to limit connectivity only to authorized devices not only for the security of your network, but also to prevent unauthorized bandwidth utilization.
While many larger organizations will want to handle the engineering of their 5G network internally, other companies may want to outsource this effort. Companies including Amazon Web Services and others are already offering private 5G design and management services that are becoming quite popular.
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Managing a Private 5G Network
Once a company has their private 5G network up and running, it will need to continuously be managed in order to keep it running smoothly.
While the ongoing administration of any network infrastructure is going to be essential, existing system admins may not be up to the task of managing 5G. This is because 5G technology is quite different than legacy wired networks, and even different from WiFi based systems.
Companies that want to keep the management of their network in-house will need to either hire an engineer to be responsible for this, or send their existing network team to get trained on this new technology. As mentioned above, however, many companies will decide to outsource the management of their private network.
Companies that specialize in this type of service are often able to do a better job at a lower cost than would otherwise be possible. Of course, outsourcing this type of work does limit the level of control a company has over the process and response times. With this in mind, businesses really need to think through how they want to handle the ongoing managing of these systems.
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Is a Private 5G Network Right for Your Business?
There is no doubt that a private 5G network is going to provide companies with an excellent user experience. The question most businesses will need to ask, however, is whether it is worth the costs and effort.
Building and managing this type of network is going to be quite costly up front, which may discourage companies from upgrading their systems to this solution if they already have standard WiFi in place. Companies building a new facility, however, will likely find that it is worth the slightly higher costs to get this advanced network in place right from the beginning.
The 5G technology has now been sufficiently proven to make it a real option for just about any business. Making the investment today will provide your business with many years of cutting edge connectivity that both users and administrators will love.
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