There’s no doubt that the world has become increasingly smaller and smaller. The physical distance among different countries and continents seems to matter less as one can communicate and even engage in commerce, wherever we are, all with just a click of a few buttons. The development of the internet is already a feat in itself, but humanity’s insatiable quest for better and more efficient ways of conducting life activities has led us to another accomplishment: the discovery of fiber optics.
Fiber-optic technology uses light pulses to transmit digital data through thin long glass fibers that are bundled as cables and usually installed underground. This method of transmission promises high-speed data transfer that is less likely to suffer from electrometric interference or long periods of latency. Using fiber optics also reduces the occurrence of electrocution, fire, and other hazards that copper and similar cables are vulnerable to.
Those reasons alone provide enough impetus for certain industries, states, and countries to gradually integrate fiber optics into their ICT systems. However, the cost and the expansiveness of the project of rewiring the entire digital world pose a challenge in achieving such a lofty ambition.
What will be the impact of using fiber optics and 5G networks on the internet of things and on businesses everywhere around the world? Twelve IT experts share their thoughts on this important question, and their responses are sure to ignite an interesting discussion. Use these quick links to go directly to your favorite experts, or you can get comfortable and start scrolling (since they’re all epic responses anyway)….
“While different technologies, I do believe fiber and 5G share a commonality when we look towards the future. Neither technology is a “one size fits all solution.”
Fiber is great—but it’s incredibly expensive and slow to deploy, making it an unrealistic solution for much of rural America. 5G’s promise to deliver higher bandwidth, lower latency, reduced packet loss, and overall increased system capacity than its 4G and 3G predecessors, is still generating both high expectations and severe skepticism. There are still countless issues with the technology, such as your hand or body blocking the signal.
Ultimately, when we look towards the future of broadband and IoT, all existing technologies—from fixed wireless, to satellite, to fiber, etc.—have advantages and disadvantages. However, they all solve a need and, when used together, can eventually close the digital divide.” About Lexie Smith: Lexie Smith serves as the VP of business development, leading public relations, marketing, and business development at GeoLinks, California’s fastest-growing Telecom, and Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing WISP in America.
The telecom industry kicked 2019 off by continuing the highly publicized debate over the opportunities, or lack thereof, that 5G presents modern day society. The technology’s promise to deliver higher bandwidth, lower latency, reduced packet loss, and overall increased system capacity than its 4G and 3G predecessors, is still generating both high expectations and severe skepticism.
With the gradual emergence of autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and all things IoT, advocates and hopeful early adopters believe that 5G technology will support innovation and transform the world as we know it. Conversely, critics attest that the so called “next generation” is overly-hyped and still faces a magnitude of serious hurdles before it can prove revolutionary.
To weigh in on the debate, I asked a panel of diverse industry experts to comment on the following question:
What do you think of 5G, is it worth all the hype?
[5G is] definitely not worth the hype for any end-user or individual human. Certain IoT or self-driving car applications are different. Notwithstanding all of the industry claims and promises for how 5G will fix all woes, the one piece that is never considered is how app developers consistently re-write apps to utilize all available bandwidth. So even should all the tenuous bandwidth promises of 5G [be real], app developers — if history is any guide — will stuff themselves with 3rd party frameworks and services that consume your newfound 5G connection. So, while one might be able to theoretically receive twice as much data per second, what matters way more is how your app is developed. Two years ago, websites became the size of DOOM. That’s only increasing.
The real value of 5G and the reason we’re seeing such heavy investments in building these networks is to help businesses and consumers unlock new, currently unattainable capabilities. 5G networks are expected to far surpass 4G networks in optimizing applications such as IoT, AI, next-generation high definition video and fixed wireless access. 5G’s extremely fast bandwidth and ultra-low latency makes mission-critical control possible, opening the door for new applications that demand absolute reliability, such as health care, energy or autonomous transportations.
As a society we tend to over-hype technology. For the person-in-the-street 5G brings you little new functionality compared to a well-designed, uncongested 4G network. It will still let you watch Netflix. What 5G will also do is let you watch Netflix in high-definition, on a crowded train, moving at speed where everyone else on the train is also watching Netflix. Nothing new, but certainly a better experience.
Beyond the day-to-day changes, 5G is a network of networks and has the ability to bridge the digital divide by connecting the unconnected. If all you want to do is watch more box-sets 5G isn’t worth the hype. If you want to make the world a better place 5G may be the technology to help you do it.
As giddy as I always get for new tech, I also remind myself that first-generation anything should be met with skepticism. The 5G jump promises faster download speeds, lower latency, and all-around better experiences with our smartphones; basically, it’s a bigger pipe for data transfer. However, coverage won’t be widespread initially, and depending on where you are, you might not be able to take full advantage of the network or that expensive new phone. Plus, I’d expect the data caps by wireless services to be prohibitive. The next generation in wireless phone tech is exciting, but I’ll wait a year before I personally invest in anything to make sure the networks are stable (and in my area), the bugs and glitches in new phones (and batteries) are worked out, and that there’s proof that 5G really will be faster than 4G LTE.
While attracting a lot of hype about how it will disrupt everything — much like most emerging technologies—5G is different. The predicted transformational benefits are real, but it is still an uncharted landscape. Businesses need to prepare for plenty of first-generation challenges.
A recent report indicates that 60% of organizations surveyed plan to deploy 5G by 2020, with clear expectations for 5G use cases, but this demand is far ahead of what communication service providers (CSPs) can deliver. CSPs are initially focused on consumer broadband services. To businesses, 5G is more than just a better mobile network – it will improve the networks of companies in every industry, allowing them to take greater advantage of transformative technologies, such as AI, IoT, and machine-to-machine communication. From autonomous vehicles to smart cities and healthcare, companies expect 5G to improve how they collect, manage and use data, enabling better customer service, increased operational efficiency, and greater employee productivity. How well an organization plans for and implements 5G will determine the level of transformational impact on its business. This means preparing now to implement this next wave.
As it currently stands, 5G is not worth the hype at all. There are still countless issues with the technology, such as your hand or body blocking the signal, and deployment timeframes continue to be pushed further out. In reality, 4G provides us with enough speed and low latency to support all of today’s modern applications. Unless an area is overly saturated, such as urban markets, the general Public will virtually notice no difference between 4G and 5G. Moreover, 5G has a strong potential to hinder progress in connecting rural America. Why? Expansion dollars will likely be focused on building out new 5G infrastructure causing less and less capital being dedicated to closing the 4G gaps in rural and suburban America. I can tell you personally in my town of around 110k (Ventura) there are countless 4G dead spots. In fact, I even run into dead zones throughout Los Angeles and Beverly hills on Verizon. All in all, instead of focusing on the overly-hyped marketing of 5G, our energy and dollars should instead focus on densifying 4G networks and adopting a hybrid-network approach to closing the digital divide.
Despite promises and early launches by Verizon and T-Mobile in the US, and other operators around the world, the main differing features of 5G – namely very low latency in support of VR-type applications and remote robotic control and ‘network slicing’ to allow networks to be virtually separated into virtual private networks – will not come for at least another 2 to 4 years.
[Furthermore,] the much-touted use of ‘sub-6GHz’ and mmWave spectrum requires 2 to 5x the densification of today’s existing mobile networks. There are some technologies that can mitigate this densification, but as the FCC in the US is pursuing, this requires massive numbers of small cells, and current zoning rules are localized which slows down deployment. This argument also misses the high costs of running fiber to all of these small cells and the only solution is wireless backhaul which requires more spectrum. [So,] 5G will eventually live up to the hype, but for now, consumers should be patient and not fall for the shiny object dangling in front of them.
There’s plenty of hype about incoming 5G networks, and they are definitely worth getting excited about – not only because it will deliver dramatically faster speeds to your smartphone (though that is a nice bonus!), but also because it will unleash the potential of the Internet-of-Things. 5G delivers gigabit speeds at very low latency, making it possible to connect millions of devices simultaneously and constantly, without interruption. Exciting new technologies, such as augmented reality experiences and autonomous vehicles, [will] become possible by laying the 5G groundwork. In the bigger picture, by hooking up IoT sensors to everything from traffic lights, to factory robots, to vending machines, we can gather incredibly granular data on nearly every interaction that occurs, and all of this data can be processed and analyzed by AI algorithms to identify ways to make services vastly more efficient and cost-effective.
However, where the 5G hype gets a little outlandish is in how quickly we’ll see the improved capabilities of 5G come to market. It will take some time to scale these networks and develop the IoT applications that will run on them, and that’s something consumers need to keep in mind.
So as articulated in the above comments, the 5G debate continues with a split verdict. Now, what do you think of 5G, is it worth all the hype?
Please note that the views and opinions expressed in this article do not represent nor do they imply endorsement of my personal views or my employer’s views and opinions. They are unique and independent to the individual contributors listed as the statement’s source.
From the roll out of new Artificial Intelligence (AI) integrations, to the highly anticipated future of 5G, in 2018 we saw the telecommunications industry generate some pretty innovative trends and thought-provoking headlines. With the new year just around the corner, I thought I’d turn to a variety of diverse industry experts to learn about their 2019 telecom predictions. Here is what they had to say:
There will be a lot of providers deploying 5G, but monetization will prove a challenge
There will be a race to see who can market 5G the quickest and who will have it as standard first. We’re already seeing tests from multiple providers across the world in isolated areas, and the speed and size of rollouts will only increase as providers look to gain the upper hand.
However, this race could be a costly one. Consumer need for 5G isn’t as great as it was for previous generations. 4G can handle most consumer use cases (such as streaming, gaming, browsing etc.) fairly comfortably with reasonable speed.
5G’s main benefit is providing increased capacity, not speed and latency, making it more of a technical development. Being the first 5G standard network will be a marketing coup, but may not come with the consumer kudos and demand it once did.
We’ve seen fixed wireless technology evolve and improve drastically over the last decade, concurrently beginning to debunk “wireless anxiety”. During the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) CAF II Auction in 2018, we saw federal acceptance and adoption through the distribution of significant funding to WISPs, such as GeoLinks. This culminates to my prediction that in 2019 I believe we will see a drastic spike in both businesses and community anchors being connected via fixed wireless. While I do think fiber will still remain top of mind for many key stakeholders, I foresee anchors, rural health care facilities as a specific example, better understanding that EoFW is the most cost effective and time efficient way to get these critical care facilities the speeds they need. Taking guidance from both the FCC and overall industry adoption, on a state level I predict that those governing RFP fund distributions will also be more open to fixed wireless solutions. This will directly result in the United States making substantial strides in closing the digital divide.
Hosted VoIP phone systems are the hottest thing right now in telecom. Even the SMB and Medium size businesses are starting to become aware of what it is, and to gravitate towards it. In years past, we would spend most of our sales pitch educating customers as to what it is, how it works, and why they should use it. In recent months, customers already are aware and ready to purchase immediately. The sales cycle went from multiple meetings to single meetings now. It has become one of the hottest products we sell.
Going into 2019, it’ll only become even more “standard knowledge”, which means the competition in the hosted VoIP market will heat up. I predict several of the biggest names will start to buy the competition out and a true industry leader will emerge. This will have to happen as the top companies now will start to rely on their current growth models and will need to find ways to replace the lost growth as competition gets bigger.
Only edge computing / edge networking and AI will show true growth
Only two areas in the telecom/networking space deserve the attention they are getting: 1] edge computing/edge networking and 2] Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Edge computing/edge networking is needed to off load the processing that takes place in cloud resident data center computers and also to reduce latency for critical real time control applications (especially for IoT).
AI and deep learning will be embedded into software-defined architectures in telco networks and the cloud to do analytics, predict failures, and move a lot of the human manual processes into automated operations. The long-term goal is to move from automated elements to closed loop automation and finally to autonomous control of networks. I believe AI will be critically important to progress emerging telecom services and enabling new ones. Examples include: 5G, Industrial IoT, autonomous vehicles, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, etc. It will be also very useful for more mundane things, like keeping up with WAN and Internet bandwidth demands due to increased video streaming by cord cutters and pay TV customers (like this author) that increasingly stream sporting events (e.g. MLB TV, NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice, boxing, etc).
All the other new technologies are hyped to the infinity power and headed for a train wreck. That’s especially true of 5G, but also includes “Software Defined” networks (SDN and SD-WAN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and LPWANs for the Internet of Things (IoT). All those suffer from the lack of inter-operability which is due to either the lack of standards, too many specs/standards (LPWANs) or proprietary implementations (e.g. SDN from AT&T, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc are not interoperable with each other. They each use different specs, with many being proprietary while others are based on open source software). None of them will make much money for any company in the coming year. Perhaps a few SD-WAN start-ups will be acquired and investors in those companies will profit, but that’s about it.
For enterprises, 2019 isn’t a forecast of all doom and gloom. The year will also bring freedom from the persistent “last-mile” telecommunications problem. With the advancements in LTE, the technology will finally reach a point where the physical cables that connect end-users to their Internet Service Providers will no longer be a necessity — or a handcuff to a particular ISP.
The “last-mile” problem has long been the most critical and most costly component of an ISP’s network, as well a speed bottleneck. But now, on the heels of widespread adoption, LTE will allow enterprises to forego the last mile of physical cable for a reliable and robust connection.
Making smart products, IoT devices, is the new product differentiator — today, even ovens have IP addresses. Companies that have been investing in IoT initiatives understand that the IoT gateway layer is the key that unlocks a high return on those IoT investments. IoT gateways manage device connectivity, protocol translation, updating, management, predictive and streaming data analytics, and data flow between devices and the cloud. Improving the security of that high data flow with a Zero Trust security model will drive enterprises to replace VPNs with micro-perimeters. Micro-perimeters remove an IoT device’s network presence eliminating any potential attack surfaces created by using a VPN.
Likewise, many organizations are pursuing a hybrid strategy involving integrated on-premises systems and off-premises cloud/hosted resources. But traditional VPN software solutions are obsolete for the new IT reality of hybrid and multi-cloud. They weren’t designed for them. They’re complex to configure, and they give users a “slice of the network,” creating a lateral network attack surface. A new class of purpose-built security software will emerge to eliminate these issues and disrupt the cloud VPN market. This new security software will enable organizations to build lightweight dynamic micro-perimeters to secure application- and workload-centric connections between on-premises and cloud/hosted environments, with virtually no attack surface.
In terms of widespread internet connectivity, the low-hanging fruit has long been picked. To achieve a complete mesh across the state, and thereby to include all of our communities and lift all boats, private-sector technology companies will need to work more collaboratively with government and nonprofit community organizations to approach an underserved geographic region with a comprehensive strategy that stitches together fiber, fixed wireless, unlicensed spectrum, TV whitespace, and more. We can no longer deploy in a series of one-offs if we are ever to serve some of the hardest to reach places.
The Internet has grown remarkably over the past few years and as a result we now have over four billion people online. The Internet will continue to grow at a remarkable pace to meet the requirements of broadband, mobile, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) growth, and this will only increase pressure on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deploy the next version of the Internet Protocol (IP version 6, or IPv6) — just as many broadband and mobile providers have already done today. The good news is that the IPv6 transition happens in the “lower layers” of the Internet, so this behind-the-scenes upgrade to the Internet will continue to happen without any noticeable change for Internet users.
Public and Private Clouds will be much more accommodating of each other
[In 2019] only about 5 viable general-purpose public cloud vendors will survive. This is because successful public cloud vendors will need to spend a lot of money, and few can afford to spend as much as the Top 2 — AWS and Microsoft Azure. [Furthermore] Public and private clouds will be much more accommodating of each other. More and more of the services provided by a public cloud vendor, such as their AI services, will become accessible to apps running elsewhere, including on private clouds. At the same time, there will be more and more examples of private cloud capabilities extended to the public cloud — such as VMware Cloud on AWS. Finally, federated orchestration and management of workloads across private and public clouds, all from a single, easy to use, portal will be commonplace.
Political turbulence and possible decrease in network investment
John Windhausen, Executive Director, Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition
2019 could be a turbulent year in the telecom/broadband space. If the FCC approves the proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger, and if the court allows the AT&T-Time Warner merger, that could encourage even more consolidation in the marketplace. Of course, more consolidation among big players also opens up more opportunities for smaller, more nimble players to increase their market share. But there are increasing signals of an economic slow-down in 2019, which could mean belt-tightening and reduced investment by all players. The tariffs on Chinese-made equipment could mean increased prices for telecom gear, which could also lead to a pause in network investment. These trends may give a boost to the idea of a grand broadband infrastructure spending bill that both the President and Hill Democrats are trying to get in front of (assuming the government shutdown does not ruin the chances of bipartisan agreement forever.) Such legislation would only have a 30% chance of enactment but could be exciting to watch, as there are so many industry players that could benefit from government funding, especially in rural markets. I expect net neutrality to continue to percolate because the court is likely to remand the case to give the FCC another chance to justify its decision. Congress could and should step in, but there is no sign of compromise on the issue and likely will remain gridlocked. For anchor institutions, work will continue to get the E-rate and Rural Health Care programs running smoothly, but I do not anticipate major structural changes.
Do you agree or disagree with any of the above predictions? If so, feel free to visit the original article here, and leave a comment.
Founded in 2011, GeoLinks is the fastest growing B2B fixed wireless ISP in California. The company recently rebranded from California Internet to GeoLinks coinciding with its launch into the national market. GeoLinks offers unmatched speed to delivery and a wide range of internet solutions for businesses at competitive prices.
Below is our recent interview with Skyler Ditchfield, CEO of GeoLinks:
Q: Skyler, could you tell us something more about the company and your history?
A: I started California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks out of my weight room in Ojai, California with my cousin and business partner Ryan Hauf in 2011. We decided early on that we were going to build our Internet Service Provider (ISP) business model to compete head to head with all the big guys—which is very untraditional for a small ISP provider. We decided that to be successful and to make our goal of becoming a major national carrier a reality, we needed to penetrate the most competitive markets. So, where did we head first? The dense Los Angeles metro area.
Over the past six years, our innovative flagship product, ClearFiber™, our superior customer service, and our industry-leading Service Agreement has led us to become the fastest growing business to business (B2B) ISP in the state, servicing more coverage area than any other single provider. Due to demand, I am ecstatic to say that we officially became a CLEC and launched into the national market this June 2017.
Q: How did you achieve such accelerated growth and expansion?
A: From the very beginning we started with asking the question, “Why does a customer choose an ISP?” We found that it comes down to competitive pricing, speed to delivery and ease of interaction. Speed to delivery has become a huge one for us because we can deliver circuits in a matter of days where larger ISPs can make businesses wait for months on end. Additionally, we excel at customer service. We’ve developed what we call “The GeoLinks Difference.” It starts with our Golden Rule: We treat you like we want to be treated. It’s a simple idea yet it’s the very foundation of our business. We are friendly, knowledgeable, efficient, and always available. Finally, we are obsessive innovators. Our team knows how things work inside and out, and we never stop looking for ways to improve our network and technology.
These are all the same reasons that contribute to why we have excelled in the wholesale market. We start by asking providers how we can align our processes in-house to best service their needs. Ultimately, we have defined all of the industry’s pain points—from both a customer and IT perspective—and are addressing them full force.
Q: Can you give us more insights into your products?
A: Anyone can visit our website and see an overview of our services. What I would like to focus on is our flagship product, ClearFiber™. There is a large misconception in the market about fixed wireless. People still think it’s not a reliable technology, when in reality, that’s just not true. It is an ongoing challenge for our company to re-educate the market that the problem doesn’t lie in the technology itself. In fact, the technology has been around since the 60’s and is actively utilized by large companies in the New York Stock Exchange and Militaries around the world. The real problem falls with improper installation. That’s why, at GeoLinks, we decided to bring everything in-house. We’re general contractors, and from land procurement, to building the actual towers, to customizing network configurations, our team ensures that the technology is deployed properly. When deployed correctly, ClearFiber™ is the most effective and superior solution available on the market.
Q: You’ve recently announced the company’s rebranding; tell us something more?
A: We’ve reached a pivotal moment in our company’s history—overwhelming demand has pulled our company outside of state borders. Wanting a name that isn’t geographically correlated, we ultimately decided to rebrand as GeoLinks—“Geo” meaning Earth in Latin and “Links” because we are linking the world with the most advanced connectivity available today.
Looking at our company timeline, I am amazed to say that this company started with humble beginnings, then moved to a 110 sqaure feet office, then to 800 sq. ft. We’re currently in a 6,000 sq. ft. office and are officially getting ready to move our headquarters into an incredible 38,000 sq ft office building this July. Featuring a fully-equipped employee gym, basketball court, spacious kitchen, game room, and much more, this new office is a direct representation of our cutting-edge company culture and accelerated growth.
Recommended: Shipkevich PLLC Continues Growth On Both Local And International Levels, Bringing In Highly Qualified Attorneys
Q: What are your plans for next 6-9 months?
A: Aside from our exciting move and introduction into the national market, we’re officially beginning to build out our 5G Network. In fact, we hit the go button this past week. We are forecasting to reach 50% deployment within the next three months and complete deployment by the end of the year. This means we’ll be able to offer up to 10G capacity over our fixed wireless networks in the greater Los Angeles area. We’re just about ready to launch Hosted Voice as well.
Finally, we are continually working to close the digital divide by providing internet to rural anchor institutions and actively lobbying in Washington, D.C. for the FCC to make more spectrum available to smaller and mid-sized ISP’s.
Q: What’s the best thing about GeoLinks that people might not know about?
A: We’re way more than just your typical ISP. From land procurement, to construction, to contract negotiation, to permitting, to building our own solar powered towers from the ground up, we do everything in-house. This allows us to go into areas that no other provider can reach—especially in areas that would typically require grid power.
Also, we focus heavily on company culture. I am very aware of the fact that we spend more than one-third of our lives at work these days, so it’s important to me to give back to my team by creating a fun work environment that makes them eager to come to work every day.