Today, let’s talk 5G and what opportunities arise from enabling ubiquitous connectivity. 5G can be world changing, catalyzing autonomous vehicles and the IoT (Internet of Things) and making edge computing and AI (artificial intelligence) more pervasive. But first we must move past the misperceptions.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jeff Edlund, CTO of Communications and Media Solutions, HPE, and Stuart Strickland, distinguished technologist on the CTO team, Aruba, on the recent Element Podcast from HPE.

Strickland clears the air, addressing some of the confusion surrounding 5G, saying it’s not just a new generation of radios, but rather a whole new toolbox of technology. “We’re no longer living in a world in which mobile phones connect to the mobile networks and laptops connect to the corporate Wi-Fi. We’re seeing a proliferation of all different sorts of devices, sensors, machines, cameras, control services, and each of those has their own specific needs.” Both 5G and Wi-Fi 6 aim to serve this new landscape.

When questioned if 5G is a force for good, he says the answer depends more on us—and economic and political forces at work—than on the technology. “We can use this opportunity to disperse rather than concentrate power. It does open up a lot of opportunity for local environments, whether those are under individual or corporate control to deploy resources that previously were at this whole province of very few mobile network operators.”

Certainly, the opportunities and benefits of 5G abound. Edlund says one of the primary things about it is it helps the service provider move away from proprietary telecommunications protocols and allows them to leverage much more open and security technology. At the same time, it leverages cloud and it’s going to allow them to take a lot of costs out of their business.

The pandemic has put an interesting spin on the 5G conversation. Strickland says the pace of change evolved, as a result, and everyone had to become more thoughtful about network strategy—especially as employees began working from anywhere.

When will it rollout fully? Edlund says we need to think about this as a game lasting nine innings or more—depending on the score. “I would say that if you look at the way that the mobile industry has handled all of the previous generations of communications technology, it’s been basically on 10-year cycles. And I don’t really expect to see anything different this time around.”

Still, Edlund adds enterprises need to start building their strategy for 5G now because if they wait until its fully rolled out, it is going to be too late. “5G is going to bring with it a new wave of automation and new applications of artificial intelligence. So they need to plan for that.”

“I’m encouraging all enterprises to really revisit and expand their thinking on their data strategy,” Edlund explains. “As we start to deploy these 5G networks, the amount of data that can be transferred and, or the amount of data that can be created is enormous. And so I like to see enterprises really plan for that.”

Strickland adds that enterprises have flirted with private cellular networks in the past. Now, we’re finally in a position where those who have a genuine need to run their own private cellular networks—whether that’s for IoT or for wide area coverage—can do so, he explains.

5G can help us bring all the connectivity we need in our businesses, cars, cities, and everything in between. The future of more pervasive connectivity is ours if only we choose to embrace.

Want to tweet about this article? Use hashtags #IoT #sustainability #AI #5G #cloud #edge #futureofwork #digitaltransformation #green #ecosystem #environmental #circularworld