Unlike prior cellular generations, 5G is made up of a collection of enhanced technologies, new spectrum, and advanced infrastructure. Although all these elements work together, they will roll out in different ways and at different times. Because of this, 5G is less of an event and more of a pathway.
As a result, there will be a tendency for businesses and organizations to wait until all the elements are completely rolled out and mature before they start to take advantage of them. However, those same organizations may regret their position in a few years as competitors roll out new technologies and applications and rapidly gain significant competitive advantage.
5G Rollouts Have Begun
The rollout of 5G has begun and will occur in deliberate phases. The chart below indicates that the Gigabit-Class LTE rollout will complete first. Due to new infrastructure requirements and higher densification, mmWave 5G will take several years to build out, while Sub-6 will roll out sooner. 2G and 3G will be phased out, and the spectrum will be re-farmed to 5G.
Start with Wireless Failover
Organizations that require high availability should consider Gigabit-Class LTE failover for small to medium sites. Or, if available, consider 5G for failover at medium to large sites. This step helps build the wireless WAN expertise that is necessary to use wireless as an active link or to go all wireless.
Add Wireless as an Active Link
Businesses and organizations that require greater bandwidth and WAN link diversity should consider using Gigabit-Class LTE (or 5G if available) as an active link. As organizations gain greater confidence in wireless WANs, they can consider cutting the cord entirely.
Go All Wireless
In many cases, Gigabit-Class LTE delivers the speed and latency necessary for organizations to go all wireless. However, when 5G is available, it will rival fiber speeds while providing tremendous flexibility and operational simplicity.
The Pathway to 5G Starts Today
During the 5G rollouts some organizations may be inclined to wait until all the elements are completely deployed before they start to take advantage of them. However, those same organizations may regret their position in a few years when competitors introduce new technologies and applications and rapidly gain significant competitive advantage. There are many ways to enter the Pathway to 5G (as shown above) that mitigates your risk today and helps propel your organization into a technology leadership position for tomorrow.