5G: Critical connectivity and the shift towards distributing experiences

Published: 11 May 2020 - 11:26 a.m.
We are living in the experience era. Raised on a digital diet of one-click ordering, streaming films anywhere with a data connection, using mobiles as virtual reality headsets, real-time fitness trackers, wireless music systems and more, users expect everything to work seamlessly first time. Never has the reliance on these types of apps to create digital experiences been more acute.
Delivering on these expectations now relies upon several critical factors; access, availability and applications. These factors each require a level of hyper connectivity which is fast, agile and secure.  Today, our telecom infrastructure still struggles to provide guaranteed access. Human mobility, which may as well now be one of Maslov’s hierarchy of needs thanks to todays’ device culture, doesn’t ensure connection. Finally, individual applications continue to become richer, bigger, and demand more processing and bandwidth than ever before. This tri-factor of considerations is critical to ensuring that human expectations are met, and that they are having exceptional experiences. However - does 5G solve for today’s shortcomings in critical connectivity to provide business resilience and help distribute experiences??
It’s vital that enterprises get to understand what 5G really means. According to a PWC report, “when customers think about their interactions, positive experiences influences purchasing decisions in almost every industry” – and they’re prepared to pay for it, up to 16 per cent more when they’ve valued the experience. On the flip side, however, if that doesn’t translate instantly, the opportunity is gone – 25 per cent of consumers have deleted an app simply because their phone’s storage space was at capacity or because it failed to deliver on the experience, such as suddenly introducing microtransactions or hidden billing.
Then there’s the volume; the unprecedented explosion of devices and sensors connecting to existing networks, which are also having to contend with increasingly sophisticated threats. Indeed, when it comes to the latter, respondents to a VMware and Forbes study were less confident in the ability of their devices (both mobile and desktop) to address emerging security challenges than cloud, infrastructure, security processes and security products and tools.
It is therefore vital that a way is found to guarantee the experience and with 5G, both businesses and consumers can enjoy unprecedented access, availability and applications. One of the fascinating use cases for 5G is that we can remove the need for apps to store significant amounts of data on devices or require local processing. Built on flexible, virtualised radio networks, 5G delivers much faster speeds, far lower latency and significantly higher density than previous spectrum bands. This means that all the modern app becomes a window to the cloud, where data is kept and processing handled at infinite scale.
This higher density means that 5G networks can handle the billions of devices constantly connected to them in multiple places – no more drops in performance when everyone checks their phones during their commutes, or comes home and logs in.
The result is that apps are no longer the experience in and of themselves – they become a front-end portal, a micro version which demands access and availability guaranteed – much like Netflix today. Suddenly, the user experience is not limited by the capacity or speed of a specific device. Instead it can be delivered and distributed anywhere, anytime, with continuous connectivity with no deprecation of experience irrespective of the physical hardware.
There is, however, a caveat to that. Consumers will only be able to confidently access fantastic experiences if the networks delivering this continuous connectivity are secure. It is absolutely vital that they cannot be breached. Delivering ubiquitous security is as much about consumer confidence as it is about data protection. This is where 5G comes in.
As a brand-new technology, 5G is an opportunity for security to be embedded, rather than bolted on. Defenses which understand the context of network and application behaviours can be deployed automatically to match the dynamics of continuous connectivity, rather than chasing threats. It means ‘knowing’ what is intended to happen, what was created as a result (and whether the two are aligned) and if something changes from what was intended – in real time and without human intervention. This is a fundamental shift in our approach to security, away from chasing bad and focusing on understanding good.
Underpinning both these exceptional experiences and its security? A new approach to delivery. Existing networks are not built to deliver 5G and all that it entails; what’s needed is an infrastructure natively built in the cloud. It’s software-defined technology that delivers consistency across the entire network, from the center to the edge, and has the agility, scalability and flexibility that 5G, and all that it engenders, demands. It is, in effect, the telecoms version of the transformation that enterprise IT is going through, from hardware-focused to software-defined, to create the digital experiences that have had such a dramatic effect on consumer expectations.
Consumers are demanding new experiences and they’ve no tolerance for compromise, a trend that’ll continue to accelerate with each passing day. 5G offers an opportunity for businesses to respond to this; to fundamentally change what people can do and what they should experience. For all organizations, it is the key to creating the compelling, differentiated and immersive experiences, with the required level of security, that consumers are looking for. This is what drives adoption, which ultimate justifies a new type of technology investment, However the right infrastructure and digital foundation must be in place.
VMware simplifies this approach with the industry’s only comprehensive 5G telco cloud platform, a single architecture that supports 4G and 5G networks, which helps communication service providers get 5G ready faster. Essential to these roll outs; reducing cost, simplifying deployment to the edge and delivering unprecedented management of these vast new networks without sacrificing the ubiquitous security demands which are inherently present. It is only in software that this is possible.
All of this, driven by the expectations of the hyperconnected human in 2020, is the consideration of any organisation intent on enabling the new normal of human innovation. After that, the opportunities which 5G enables are near limitless.

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