Mobile technology has revolutionized many aspects of business - both domestic and international - but chief among them may be the global supply chain. Now, companies can gain real-time access to critical information about partners, orders and more. And this is all before the advent of 5G - the next-gen mobile network that will bring truly incredible connection speeds.
While the widespread use of 5G networks may still be years away, it's already in trial use for certain parts of the U.S. and, more broadly, in China, according to RCR Wireless. For that reason, it's believed that sales of 5G-enabled devices is going to skyrocket in the near future; one Goldman Sachs estimate was recently revised upward to project about 120 million of these gadgets sold worldwide in 2020, up from the original estimate of 50 million.
The reason why? Telecom companies in China have been able to build 5G networks without relying on U.S.-made parts, which are growing in cost due to the ongoing trade war between the two nations, the report said. Right now, network access on both sides of the Pacific is fairly limited, but it's believed there will be 156 million 5G network connections worldwide by 2021, including 32 million in North America alone.
Perhaps the most obvious application for 5G when it comes to the global supply chain is shipment information can be uploaded to and downloaded from the cloud more or less in real time, according to Logistics Viewpoints. Home- and business-based 5G connections can reach speeds of up to 700 Mbps easily, and cellular 5G connections currently clock in at peaks of 300 Mpbs. Compare that with 4G LTE networks with peak speeds in the mid-double digits, and it's easy to see why 5G is a huge step forward.
With that in mind, use of these newer network connections enable an incredible variety of IoT communications between any number of devices, including drones, which could dramatically speed up delivery times, the report said. With more clarity into broader aspects of the supply chain, planning for future business interactions or dealings should become easier as well.
Security will be key
Of course, as any new technology is rolled out and integrated into more business processes, it may present a litany of challenges too, including those related to security - and 5G is no different, according to TechTarget. Simply put, if your business is putting large quantities of 5G-enabled devices in its facilities or otherwise incorporating new machines into your processes, you need to be able to have assurances about their provenance and how they are keeping data secure as they transmit it going forward.
You will also have to ensure the systems on which the bigger datasets are being stored are fully compatible with the new devices and will be able to keep it secure on an ongoing basis, the report said.
Because widespread use of 5G is still at least a year or two away, your business has ample time to strategize about the possibilities and opportunities that may present themselves in the months ahead.