"Come gather 'round, people, wherever you roam. Admit that the waters around you have grown. And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone…For the times they are a-changin'."
Although Bob Dylan had something else in mind when, five decades earlier, he wrote The Times They Are a Changin’, his message is no less poignant today; especially in the world of mobility.
Long gone are the dial up modems and the corded Trimline and Princess phones our parents and grandparents used. In fact, I can still hear the screech of my parents old 56K dial up modem as they eagerly waited to be connected to the “Worldwide Web.”
Back then, an Internet search consisted of connecting via your ISP, selecting among a handful of browsers to use, like WebCrawler, Excite, Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves, et al. Then, while waiting for your search results to pop up, it was off to the kitchen to prepare at least two of dinner’s three main courses... OK, I’m kidding, but it was painstakingly slow.
And before that, there was the good ol’ rotary phone with the extra-long 10 ft. cord that stretched into the bathroom or closet for those private conversations. I specifically recall fighting with my sister over who got to use the family’s one -shared- phone. She generally won those fights; hogging the phone for hours.
Early in my career, at the ripe old age of 18, I worked at the local mall selling the latest in cellular technology. At the time, Nokia was the leading name in the field and our store was blowing out roughly 500 of their phones each month; everybody wanted one. The golden age of cellular was upon us. The new technology of cellular communication allowed people to ‘cut the cord’ and roam - free from the shackles of a desk, phone booth or living room. Talking from wherever – outside, in a car or hiking a trail, the freedom it represented occupied the conscious of everyone. It was a concept that not only transformed lifestyles, but also workplaces, shifting business out of the office and into the world.
Then, magically, the Internet became accessible on mobile phones; well, sort of anyway. When the first Internet cell phones were introduced, all you could really do was check the weather. How cool was that? Well, 20 years ago it was the bomb! Suddenly, we knew the forecast outside and no longer needed to look out the window. Shortly thereafter, 3G became the reference technology and the game changed once again. This was the first point that the phone and the internet were truly merged into one device.
By comparison to today’s standards, 3G speeds were still super slow. However, 3G opened the door for the use of navigation apps on the phones – No more getting lost! It also allowed us to hand over the phones to the kids and let them play a game while waiting in the doctor’s office (electronic babysitters) and enabled businesses to access their emails on the go; creating a mobile sales force.
3G also opened the door for wireless hotspots - further integrating mobility within the needs of businesses. You could now completely decouple the computer from its base and wirelessly conduct business wherever you wanted… if you could find a connection. Connectivity was the issue with 3G. Coverage in rural areas was spotty; speeds were slow, and it didn’t have enough bandwidth to support the rising needs required by a mobile workplace. However, the introduction of 4G was a game-changer, allowing faster speeds, greater bandwidth and the capability to connect multiple devices to the internet using a cellular connection.
The business world jumped on the 4G bandwagon and the world of Mobility started to become not just a want, but a need to conduct business in an on-demand fashion with limited restrictions. But as time went on and the workforce became more entrenched in the world of mobility, there still was not enough bandwidth to have unlimited connectivity. Getting enough data became very cost prohibitive which put limits on some of its capabilities. Even the carriers who said that you get unlimited data would throttle back the speeds to the 3G network so that the 4G network would not get overloaded. The needs of the business world, along with the lack of bandwidth, are a couple of the driving factors into the creation of the new 5G network that is coming out soon.
The 5G network will have speeds 10X faster, shorter delays, less lag time and increased connectivity allowing for unlimited data options. 5G technology will allow us to add more solutions to the world of mobility such as security cameras, cars, wearables, dog collars, and so many other inert devices that are beginning to connect to the web. As more Millennials are moving into the workforce, the need to unleash the cords and become mobile is a trend that cannot be ignored. People need the ability to navigate to where the business needs to be done. Everyone is looking for new solutions to better enable them to be more productive on the go. This is where the 5G network will open the possibilities to connect the world wirelessly to the same capabilities that we can connect wired solutions currently.
Imagine having a complete data center running off nothing but a wireless network; think of all the remote locations that can now have instant access to the internet and the entire virtual world that backs it.
Once again, the times are, in fact, “a changin’”- putting us at the forefront of a new technology shift that will greatly enhance the world of mobility. I find it fascinating to have been at the forefront of this transformation; early on at its advent and now in my career selling and supporting customers looking to learn more and position themselves for the explosive capabilities promised by 5G.
I am excited to be part of the Tech Data Mobility Solutions team that will be helping to pave the way for a faster and more capable workforce of the future. Tremendous opportunity exists within the channel for our partners to help their customers prepare for the network changes with device refreshes and new activations which our team can help with. Contact us via MobilitySolutions@techdata.com to learn more about how 5G will impact your customers business.