5G: The Rundown for Broadband Providers

By now, you are most likely used to seeing “4G” in the top corner of your smartphone’s screen. 4G, the fourth generation of mobile internet technology, changed the way we use our phones forever. The apps that have been created for 4G are smart and incredible; we never could have imagined the capabilities they have. However, 4G has been around for several years now, and it is nearly time for something newer, stronger, and faster.

5G is a next generation mobile internet technology that promises to deliver faster download speeds, better connections, and wider coverage. 5G offers three major upgrades to its predecessor, 4G: minimal delay (low latency), long battery life, and high speeds. 4G downloads can reach 50 megabits per second, while 5G is able to operate at speeds that are 100 times faster (some sources say 1,000 times faster). No one knows what new companies and services 5G will inspire, just as no one could predict the amazing applications of 4G, such as Lyft and Snapchat.

The Race to 5G

The first 5G-ready smartphones won’t arrive until next year. This year’s efforts will be a mix of portable hotspots and fixed wireless—that is, using cellular networks to offer an alternative to wires for home broadband. The four major US carriers all plan to offer 5G mobile service in the first half of 2019, but they’re all taking a different approach.

AT&T is offering 5G-powered mobile hotspots in a dozen cities this year. Verizon plans 5G services in at least 5 cities this year (not for mobile phones, but for fixed wireless). Sprint is working on rolling out smartphone service in 9 US cities, and they are hoping to take advantage of some unique airwaves they own. Finally, T-Mobile plans to offer 5G smartphone service next year to customers in four major cities. By 2021, T-Mobile plans to provide speeds in excess of 100Mbit/s to two-thirds of the US population.

All of these companies are racing against each other as well as racing against other countries. Right now, there is a three-way game among the United States, China, and South Korea to get 5G networks up and running first. It seems that the U.S. will be first with 5G in a few places, but China will be first to bring 5G to everybody. The U.K. should certainly not be ignored either; Vodafone recently conducted a live holographic call using 5G. In addition to trying to be first, there is a fight over who will provide the technology to power the networks. The U.S. has security concerns about China and will not allow Huawei to provide gear to major US telecom firms.

Timeline

Gartner, Inc. developed a tool called the Hype Cycle to help understand how particular technologies are regarded in terms of the reality of expectations as compared to how the technology is used over time. The hype cycle consists of five phases: the technology trigger, the peak of inflated expectations, the trough of disillusionment, the slope of enlightenment, and the plateau of productivity. 5G, according to Qualcomm Director of Product Marketing Sherif Hanna, is slightly past peak hype and we are on the way to the trough of disillusionment.

Hanna explained that there is some backlash due to the extreme hype around 5G. Some people are almost having an allergic reaction to it, saying 5G is all hype and no substance whatsoever. Hanna disagrees, but the critics make a valid point. 5G has not been substantiated yet, but everyone—including the government—is already so invested. The real question here is this: what is the timeline for 5G between where we are and the slope of enlightenment?

Although the four major carriers plan to offer 5G mobile service in the first half of next year, it will be a long time before 5G coverage is ubiquitous. By mid-2019, Sprint is promising always-connected 5G PCs on its network. By 2020-21, 5G will be delivering Internet of Things upgrades, supporting connected cars and other IoT devices. Deployment on cell towers has already begun. Deployment in urban areas is in the works. Application adoption will come last, most likely in a few years. While 5G will be impressive, it is far away from being available to consumers and we should keep that in perspective.

5G and Broadband Providers

According to analysts for Light Reading, 5G is soon to become the “largest existential threat” to broadband providers. Speedy fixed 5G services are going to take money from cable broadband. For example, T-Mobile plans to capture 10 million broadband subs by 2024, largely targeting cable’s footprint. Cable companies have historically refrained from competing against each other, so many US cities have just one provider. Comcast and Charter together provide broadband service to 68 million Americans. 5G will threaten their market share.

5G and IoT

4G helped launch the app revolution, and 5G will carry the torch. It will not only enrich experiences for existing applications but also enable new Internet of Things (IoT) use cases. 5G will mean faster data on phones but will also pave the way for billions of connected IoT devices. Applications built on underlying technologies such as augmented reality, VR, and AI will benefit from massive data pipes and ultra-low latency.

It is important to note that there are security concerns with the plethora of IoT devices that will run on 5G. There are already existing security concerns with current IoT devices because their creators favor low prices over strong security, making them easy picking for hackers. Today people secure these devices by buying additional products to monitor home-network traffic, but with 5G, many more devices will bypass that network and connect directly to the Internet. The issue isn’t one hacked IoT device, but the millions of controllable hijacked devices.

In many ways, 5G will make life easier and more convenient. One major benefit of 5G networks will be the use of delivery drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). People will be able to place their online orders from their mobile devices, pay less for shipping, and acquire their goods quickly, securely, and for a low cost. Drones already exist, but 5G will help coordinate large fleets of them, allowing them to fly safely and automatically avoid collisions with high buildings and other UAVs.

If you’re picturing the drones flying through a city, you are correct. There will still be limited access to rural areas due to limited 5G offerings. Many people are claiming that 5G will help close the Digital Divide in America. However, rural areas that currently have subpar broadband will most likely continue down that path. It simply costs too much in the eyes of the companies pushing 5G to build out all of this fiber infrastructure needed for 5G in rural America. Today approximately 24% of rural Americans are on the wrong side of the digital divide, and it will likely be a very long time before this is remedied.

5G’s First Adopters

5G’s first adopters will undoubtedly be heavy industries and not consumer brands. They will use 5G for its Internet of Things applications. Oil fields, for example, plan to use the technology to boost their collection of data from sensors. Industrial automation will benefit the most, at least in the beginning. Consumer applications, which will come later, will drive the majority of the bandwidth with video and gaming.

Mobile browsing is great these days, but surfing the web without a Wi-Fi connection leaves much to be desired. For example, it’s really hard to play Fortnite Mobile using a data plan. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr explained how 5G will essentially eliminate the need to be connected to Wi-Fi. This shift has massive ramifications for information accessibility, telecoms, telehealth, and, of course, mobile gaming. Carr went on to say, “They should be branding it as 5G, The Fortnite Network.” Certain Fortnite updates have been over 1GB and could take hours to download on 4G. At 10 Gbps, these updates could be downloaded in a minute and a half. 5G gives users the speed of wired, fiber-optic internet connections, minus the cords.

Gaming may not be your thing, but some form of streaming video probably is. Netflix streaming will be like never before, and you will have access to extremely high quality video conferencing. Surgeons could even operate remotely over the internet. 5G will make all of our devices smarter, but can it make our cities smarter too?

 Experts say that 5G networks will jumpstart the smart cities movement, which is aimed at making cities more sustainable and efficient. The vision for 5G is to enable cities to combine data and devices to reduce traffic, energy, improve communications, protect neighborhoods, and save time and money.

However, “5G and smart cities can only become a reality for all Americans if there is enough fiber infrastructure to support them,” wrote Lisa Youngers, CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association. This is true. In order to get the 5G, your devices still have to connect to a wired network; when they connect to the cell tower, the tower is connected to a landline network. The little antenna might be broadcasting, but when the signal comes back there’s a wire behind it.

5G is not comprised of a standalone new technology. Its disruptive nature comes from its ability to aggregate the power of new and existing networks, mobile, fixed, and wireless to create flexibility. Nearly all of the communication through 5G will still travel fiber in the ground or underwater. Only the very last part of the connection—from the handset to the tower—will be wireless. 4G and 5G cannot exist without the fiber that empowers them. Are you building services to support the towers that support 5G? You must in order to meet the demand of underlying connectivity for 5G. Ronin can help you plan, build, and run these services. Give us a call today at (303)-678-1844 or email us at hello@roninpbr.com.

 

Digital Transformation: The Secret For Service Providers

Digital Transformation matters because larger service providers are already making the shift. They have significant capital and will be able to provide a full suite of services to your customers and make your business relevant. New technologies such as 5G and SDWAN will enable providers to reach customers within your service area. These providers have complete wireless and wireline offerings: Internet, voice, video, and wireless—all integrated and working together seamlessly.

Digital transformation isn’t just about investing capital into software platforms and automation., but it’s also about enabling human capital. Here’s a checklist of things to consider:

Work smarter, not harder
– For new requests, do you have a standard offering or is it all ICB?
– How are you measuring your sales, marketing, and support?
– Do you use a CRM like salesforce? How many groups within the company use it?
Focus on the customer
– Do you differentiate your business and residential brands? If so, how? (support, services, pricing?)
– Do you have different service offerings for different types of customers?
– Have you created different marketing messages or branding for customer types?
Innovate
– When was the last time you rolled out a new product? (changing pricing doesn’t count)
– What services are you developing in the coming year?
– What new markets can you expand into?

Some additional links on Digital Transformation:
Examples of companies that are succeeding at Digital Transformation
Digital transformation doesn’t break the bank

Are you looking for help in your business? Give us a shout 303.678.1844 or drop us a note hello@roninpbr.com

Broadband is a Necessity for EconDev

A robust broadband infrastructure is a compelling differentiator for economic development teams. Today’s business applications require high-speed connectivity including Internet access and services supported by a fiber network.

Communities with good broadband infrastructure can support traditional office workers as well as digital workers. Digital workers are employees that work from home and require services like high-speed internet access and unified communications to carry out their jobs. You want these digital workers in your community for economic development; 75% of employees who work from home earn over $65,000 a year, meaning they make more and spend more than the average office worker.

Fast wi-fi allows for telehealth, or meeting with a doctor remotely from your home, as well as improves education due to distance learning. Distance learning allows students to take classes all over the world and go on virtual field trips. Much of the homework students receive today requires an internet connection as well.

So compelling is the web as a business resource that modern commerce simply cannot function without it. Not only will companies find themselves at a competitive disadvantage without broadband, but communities that fail to invest in their digital infrastructure may discover that their economic development initiatives are destined for a similar fate.

Are you looking to develop a plan for creating broadband infrastructure in your community? Give us a call at 303.678.1844 or email hello@roninpbr.com.

4 Reasons you need to be offering UCaaS

We’re projecting that the market for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) in the US will be worth $88B by 2021. Whether you have a network today or are considering building one, this is a service you need to seriously consider. Here’s why:

  1. There is a demand for the service today: If you’re not offering UCaaS today, it’s likely that your customers are already buying it from providers such as RingCentral and 8X8. These companies are able to offer the services over your internet connections and it’s revenue you’re missing out on.
  2. Customers want to buy local: After high-speed internet access, unified communications is the service most in demand, especially in rural areas. We’ve surveyed and spoken to over 20,000 IT decision makers and this is the service they are looking to buy and would prefer to buy locally from a company invested in their community.
  3. It’s sticky revenue: A recent article from NoJitter notes that there is “infinitesimal churn” with Unified Communications. Customers like the connectivity features, the professional upgrade it gives their business, and the costs. Not to mention it’s also a hassle to change. It can easily be bundled with high-speed internet access.
  4. 5G is on the horizon: Mobile carriers will absolutely look to offer a full suite of connectivity options targeted to business. Local network providers will only be able to compete if they offer services like #UCaaS. The time to start is now.

 

Need help getting this service off the ground? Give us a call (303)-678-1844 or email us hello@roninpbr.com and let’s start talking.

The Best of CES2018

A leading trend at this year’s CES was the use of voice assistants. Voice assistants are likely to become a leading commerce platform in which businesses are able to connect with customers. 24% of 5,000 people surveyed across 4 countries stated they would prefer to use a voice assistant than a website, and this number is expected to grow over the next few years.

Speaking of the Internet of Things, Samsung is going all in on IoT. Samsung confirmed all their products will be IoT-compatible by 2020. 90% already are as of today. So what does this mean for users? Well, it depends on what Samsung appliances they own. One example is buying a new Samsung TV; people who do will no longer have to worry about entering usernames or passwords for services like Netflix and Spotify when they initially set up their TVs. That information will be automatically entered into the TV by checking other systems in which the customer has logged in, making it a more seamless experience. The TV also includes Bixby, a voice assistant, and will be able to double as a central hub for smart products all around the home, letting users do everything from see who is at the front door to adjust the thermostat.

Also working towards a seamless experience is Verizon. At CES 2018, Verizon announced it is working on a couple of new services: the carrier is planning an over-the-top (OTT) content offering and a connected home product, a platform for residential customers to help managed things like smart lights, heating, and alarm systems.

In the bigger picture, everything is about smart cities. They will influence growth, transportation, cities and towns, industry, and our planet. Smart cities encompass IoT, 5G connectivity, transportation and smart automotive, energy and utilities, health and public safety, artificial intelligence, and data analytics. Anticipated global smart cities spending by 2020 is $34 billion.

Service providers should keep in mind the continued trend for more devices, more bandwidth, and the need for a wifi broadband service that can keep up with the demand. Give us a call today at (303)-678-1844.

The Most Mind-blowing Tech At CES 

Fantastical flying machines at CES 2018 highlight the future of urban transport

CES 2018 is where you’ll start caring about 5G

TechRadar’s 2018 CES Awards – the best tech at the show

The Importance of Broadband and Telehealth

The FCC’s Connect2Health Task Force recently released an interactive map of the country which maps broadband and health across the states. The data is revealing and shows how reliable broadband impacts healthcare through things like telehealth, which is on the rise. Telehealth applications are a major driver for broadband adoption. It’s mentioned and as point of discussion in the CVS / Aetna merger talks as well as a key reason for municipal broadband.

To be effective, it’s important to dig further into the details on what it will take to implement these telehealth services. For patients using the applications at home, there must be a secure service that allows residents to do so. Most likely, this would require HD voice and video conferencing, which means there should be a minimum of 50Mbps or more—this is 2x the speed of the minimum FCC requirement for broadband.

 Regional health clinics and hospitals need a secure, high capacity service that can connect them to larger healthcare systems and headquarters as well as their patients. In order to do this, they need a broadband speed of 100Mbps or more.

 Finally, the broadband and services must be reliable which means the end user (patient or healthcare provider) needs a consistent user experience with clearly defined SLA’s.

 This is where Ronin Technology Advisors can help. Give us a call today (303-678-1844) and let’s discuss how we can help you develop and deliver the services your communities need.

Show Me the Money: What’s Hot and What’s Not in Business Communications Services

 

We’re proud to be a digital sponsor this year at the 2018 PEC Showcase and we’ll be speaking about the market for business communications.

Service providers today are looking to determine where best to deploy capital and get the most bang for their buck.  Over the past 2 years we’ve spoken and surveyed over 20,000 IT decision makers at businesses from 1 person shops to Fortune 100 companies on what communications services they are buying and looking to buy.  This provides us with a great view of the market and we’ll provide some insight into these questions:

  • How big is the communications market and how fast is it growing?
  • What services should you be investing in to stay relevant?
  • How will competitive threats and new technologies such as 5G and SDWAN impact your business?

We’ll also provide some practical tips on how to position your organization and network for the future

If you plan to attend and want to connect, give us a shout 303.678.1844 or drop us a note hello@roninpbr.com

How to lose subscribers but beat earnings estimates in 3 steps

Recently Comcast exceeded their earnings estimates while losing a record number of video subscribers.  Why is this important?  They’ve got a plan and roadmap on how they look at the services they’re delivering and the services their customers are looking for. 

  1. Move away from low value services – Whether it’s traditional cable TV, regular home phone service, or sub 25Mbps internet access, in today’s market consumers are looking for value.   
  2. Identify your high value services.  These are the services that delight customers – more speed, greater capacity, and new features, and ultimately the customer has more capabilities. For Comcast, their high value service is broadband. 
  3. Diversify with complimentary services.  Broadband isn’t just internet access, it is an enabler of higher margin services such as ethernet WAN, unified communications, and SDWAN.   

Some questions to think about: 

  • Are you seeing a decline in margin and/or subscribers? 
  • Are you looking to add value to your current services? 
  • Are your business services different than your residential services?  
  • Want to know how to get more margin out of your existing network? 

Give us a call at 303.678.1844 or drop us a note hello@roninpbr.com. We’d love to hear about your business and how we can help.   

IoT is Fueling a Green Revolution in Farming

We may be on the verge of a second Green Revolution thanks to the Internet of Things. Inmarsat researchers found that 62% of agritech companies have already deployed at least some IoT infrastructure. An additional 27% of respondents planned to roll out IoT tech in the next 6 months. By 2022, Inmarsat expects 12% of all agriculture companies’ budgets to be spent on technology.

Technology spending across Ag is expected to double over the next 4 years.  Connected farms will be the future.  Do you have the right services to capitalize on this market? Give us a call at (303)-678-1844.