It's time for 5G to shine in the enterprise | HCLTech

It's time for 5G to shine in the enterprise

Rajesh Natarajan, CTO - Hyperscaler, System Integrator and SaaS at AT&T and Puneet Kumar, VP, Telecom, Media and Entertainment at HCLTech discussed the main trends shaping the future of 5G technology
9.6 min. read
Nicholas Ismail
Nicholas Ismail
Global Head of Brand Journalism, HCLTech
9.6 min. read
It's time for 5G to shine in the enterprise

5G is no longer a buzzword. The technology has gained significant momentum with organizations across different industries looking to deploy and monetize 5G products and services. Put simply, its gone from a nice to have to a must have.

This change to the main drivers behind 5G adoption was discussed during an HCLTech iPredict fireside chat, featuring Rajesh Natarajan, CTO - Hyperscaler, System Integrator and SaaS at AT&T and Puneet Kumar, VP, Telecom, Media and Entertainment at HCLTech.

5G in the enterprise

According to Natarajan, the deployment of 5G networks at scale has moved the technology into its next phase of widespread enterprise adoption.

He said: “5G has been a buzzword for many years now, which is the case for all new technologies. Until the last 12 months, network operators hadn’t deployed 5G assets on the ground and then it takes some time for those networks to be deployed. They’re now ubiquitous and available to enterprises for enterprise system use. As a result of that, enterprises now see 5G in their backyard and have come to the realization that this is something they can leverage. It’s created all these new kinds of use cases across the enterprise, including automation, security and more bandwidth use.”

Kumar agreed and explained that while the COVID-19 pandemic had caused a delay in the deployment of 5G assets, it also led to the accelerated use of the technology.

“When everyone had to work from home it required employees to have enterprise level security for their collaboration with their teams, which led to an initial uptake of 5G. When people went back to workplaces in a hybrid model this trend of collaboration on secure platforms continued,” he said.

“Every digital enterprise is looking at ways to differentiate itself when it comes to experience transformation. Enabling 5G technologies to deliver new business models and experiences will drive a lot of the required investments in 5G,” he added.

Unlocking opportunities and defining 5G

With the transformation potential of 5G clear to see, the question for enterprises is around 5G opportunities and creating products and services that can be monetized.

However, before they can answer this question, enterprises must understand 5G is and what it isn’t, according to Natarajan.

“5G is not just fast networking. It’s the ability to offer a higher bandwidth in a more secure fashion and to cover more devices with a smaller footprint that wasn’t possible earlier. The second part is that 5G provides the ability to prioritize traffic over the wireless network, which opens a host of new applications and services,” he said.

With this definition, Kumar added: “You now have network splicing abilities that allows organizations to look at data sources coming in and concurrently work with devices, which means that at any given point of time, every device is sending data and what you’re seeing is that data being used on the cloud, which is also at the edge, allowing you to make quicker decisions for the business.”

This low latency supports use cases, such as enabling doctors to conduct surgery from a remote environment. A 5G network can help these surgeons make life-saving decisions in near real-time. In addition, outside of healthcare, there are several opportunities that 5G can unlock in asset heavy and distributed supply chain industries. Kumar pointed to setting up a robotic implementation in a factory or using drones for precision deliveries as examples.

“These examples take Industry 4.0 away from the factory floor and into wider areas [of discussion],” said Natarajan.

In another example of unlocking 5G opportunities, Kumar referenced how theme parks were able to open post-pandemic by deploying 5G solutions and facial recognition with edge computing and AR and VR to track visitors’ temperatures in real-time as they entered the park. Later, this same technology was used to develop new experiences and revenue streams.

Industry use case: The port

Looking to explain an industry use case in more detail, Natarajan said:

“Typically, a port is a large open area with a huge number of pallets that need to be shipped. Ships need to be monitored and there needs to be communication between the various vehicles inside the port area. It’s a very busy site with poor communication capabilities, such as walkie-talkies and other outdated modes of communication which are limited by geography.

“When you move toward a 5G deployment, all of a sudden, the entire port area is under a single and more importantly, a secure network with the ability to handle almost any type of communication. That’s a very real use case that people can latch onto and apply to other use cases, like a mining area or a large, automated factory. The port is a very significant use case that makes perfect sense from a 5G deployment [point of view].”

In this environment, Kumar added that the sensors collecting data will “be enabled by 5G technology, which have a very low energy consumption and are low latency. This will also support data to be analyzed in real-time, a problem statement of 4G, allowing people to make decisions in the port immediately. Bringing edge computing through cloud technologies with multiple cloud players will support the activity of collecting data and analyzing it in real-time.”

AR, VR and the explosion of connected devices

Looking forward, 5G is going to support the total explosion of AR and VR activities and the connected device ecosystem.

According to Natarajan, AR and VR are now entering the mainstream and with 5G, its use will only increase.

“The advantage of using 5G for AR and VR is the low latency. You don’t have to wait for any responses and that helps from a user experience perspective,” he said.

In addition, connected devices, whether on a fridge or in a car, in a connected ecosystem will increase at scale. The data generated from these devices will need to be analyzed, actioned and automated in real-time on 5G networks.

“We’re already there in healthcare with remote patient monitoring, telemedicine and even surgery. These types of services are enhanced using 5G and there is a very good rationale for embracing this across a multitude of industries,” added Natarajan.

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Delivering 5G in a powerful partner ecosystem

Concluding the discussion, Natarajan and Kumar explained the importance of working together, in an integrated manner to accelerate 5G adoption and the monetization of products and services.

Natarajan said: “We're trying to create an ecosystem of large cloud players, with assistance from companies like HCLTech, yourself who have the capability, the application knowledge and the savviness to create custom applications or even off-the-shelf applications, which customized to individual client requirements and then we provide the foundational underlying network infrastructure. When you combine this creates a user experience, which is completely seamless.

Kumar added: “Everyone can do everything on their own, buying bits and pieces from different technology segments and bringing it all together. But, this is the one of the main reasons for the slowdown of the 5G market.”

Instead, enterprises should look for partners who have network expertise in deploying 5G ubiquitously, with experience in delivering application, integration and cloud services to support 5G ambitions, solve complex problems and drive innovation.

Click here to view the full discussion

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