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5G Opportunity No Longer Just 'Hype And Hyperbole' For Solution Providers

‘Businesses need to understand that technology is there to help showcase your products and services. 5G will help fuel our customers’ businesses and help get them to market faster,’ a solution provider executive tells CRN.

Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon have introduced initial 5G services, signaling to partners that the next-generation wireless option is no longer a buzzword.

Robert Boyanovsky, vice president of enterprise mobility product management at Dallas-based AT&T, last week urged the channel to grab a piece of the "huge opportunity" that 5G will offer over the next few years.

"There's been a lot of hype and hyperbole in the industry around 5G and what it can do … but we're about ready to have the next wave of wireless growth, and it's all around 5G," said Boyanovsky.

Early 5G services are being directed at consumers, but solution providers are eagerly awaiting the next iteration of wireless technology that promises ultra-reliable speeds as much as 1,000 times faster than 4G, better capacity and lower latency—all of which will help improve business outcomes for customers, solution providers told CRN.

"I think 5G is going to be a game-changer for certain use cases, like augmented reality," said Melvin Williams, director of business development for M&N Communications, a solution provider and AT&T partner.

[Related: AT&T Focused On Next-Gen Networking, 5G As Carrier Stands 'Ready To Close' Time Warner Deal ]

Blue Bell, Pa.-based M&N Communications manages the entire technology life cycle, including connectivity and mobility, for its enterprise customers. Businesses want to learn more about 5G, but the infrastructure needed to support the next-gen networking technology isn't there yet, Williams said.

M&N is working on presenting the right use cases to demonstrate how 5G and mobility solutions can benefit their customers’ businesses, including their remote staff, as well as their customers’ own end users, he said.

"Businesses need to understand that technology is there to help showcase your products and services. 5G will help fuel our customers’ businesses and help get them to market faster," Williams said.

On Oct. 1 Verizon pushed what it called "the world's first" commercial 5G service live in four cities: Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, Calif. Verizon's residential 5G service promises speeds of up to 1 Gb and no data caps.

The latest service from Verizon, Verizon 5G Home, is being achieved mostly through the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based carrier's deep fiber assets and millimeter wave frequencies. Verizon said the latest service is built on the open 5G TF network standard, which is different from the official 5G standard that was finalized in June by 3GPP, an international organization that oversees cellular standards.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, meanwhile, vowed in a September interview that the carrier "will be first with a standards-based 5G service." To that end, AT&T revealed its plan to roll out its standards-based mobile 5G network and a mobile 5G device to 19 markets later this year and in 2019.

Ace Technology Advisors, once a telecom agent partner, is now a managed services provider that specializes in wireless solutions. Even though 5G isn't available yet to business customers, Ace is "future-proofing" its business by positioning itself as a preferred vendor with its multisite customers, including a nationwide retail company Ace is lighting up with 4G connectivity across its locations.

For this customer, Ace is providing the wireless routers and the data plan and managing the entire solution.

"We're waiting patiently. We have all these 4G devices in place and when 5G comes out, we've already planted the seeds and we can replace whatever infrastructure [the customer] already has with infrastructure that can support 5G," said Andrew Gregoire, CEO of Fall River, Mass.-based Ace. "These customers are going to come to us first."

Boyanovsky laid out several Internet of Things use cases that 5G will help make possible, including the use of augmented reality for patient pain management in the health-care space and enhancing virtual teller technology for banks. IoT use cases in particular are extremely dependent on low latency and high reliability, something that today's mobile network can't guarantee.

"The new network is born in software. This reliability claim looks akin to wireline, so now our conversation with enterprises around wireless will really be changed," AT&T's Boyanovsky said.

The opportunity around 5G and IoT will be tremendous for solution providers getting into the wireless game early, Ace's Gregoire said.

"You're talking about potentially replacing the customer's primary connectivity with a truly redundant wireless solution. And you're going to get fiber speeds for coax prices," he said.

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