The next, fifth, generation of wireless networks promises to bring incredibly fast speeds and data capacity with new applications for enterprises. Before 5G is widely available there are several things that enterprises need to consider.
5 G Ready or Not
Verizon forecasts that it will have 5G service in 30 markets by the end of the year. AT&T expects to have nationwide 5G coverage by the middle of 2020. T-Mobile rolled out mobile 5G in 30 cities in 2018. New York City and Los Angeles have 5G and it has set 2020 as the target date for a complete nationwide 5G roll-out. Even China aims to have National 5G networks in place by next year.
Enterprises 5G Preparation
Early reviews of 5 G services have identified spotty coverage and a tendency for phones to overheat. Enterprise managers should pause before considering immediate roll-out of 5G phones. 1. Samsung’s latest Galaxy S10 models cost about 30% more than equivalent models without 5G. 2. Apple 5G-enabled smartphones will not be available until 2020.
Enterprises’ 5G Budget Considerations
While, prices of 5G Android smartphones are expected to decline to $249-349 USD in the second half of 2020, Apple will probably charge a premium for its models which are likely to be released in the Fall of 2020. There are also likely to be some higher monthly service fees associated with 5G service from carriers as they seek to recover some of their costs to upgrade their networks. Enterprises should get off their normal schedule of automatically replacing employees’ smartphones every 18 to 24 months.
Delaying replacement of all devices that still work is critical to prepare larger budgets that will be necessary for more expensive 5G devices. Enterprise mobile contract negotiations should attempt to “grandfather” or continue current monthly service rates for 5G when it is rolled out. If firms do not have leverage to “lock-in” the current pricing structure, they should identify what the new charges will be and compare pricing from other providers to determine the best combination of service quality and price.
Finally, enterprise IT mobility managers must set reasonable expectations with employees for a 5G roll out. The range for service is limited. Obstructions such as trees, rain, or buildings will require carriers to deploy a lot more small cellular radios, or small cells, in areas with a 5G signal. This is likely to require 4G backup service so employees need to have realistic expectations with the service when it is initially rolled out.