The 5G future of networking promises high speeds, low latency and plenty of bandwidth to support concurrent connections, all of which will be transformative. But the excitement over this next-gen tech is about more than a speed or capacity bump. The 5G era has the potential to radically transform the way we think about and use mobile networks and networks in general.
The networks of the future need to carry enhanced mobile broadband, a far greater volume of machine-to-machine communications to support the Internet of Things for both consumer and industrial applications, and the mission-critical business traffic that will enable Industry 4.0. And to support global business supply chains, these networks need to enable seamless communications worldwide.
The concept of a 5G campus network could meet the needs of smart manufacturing facilities with heavy utilization of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and specific tailoring for the demands of the digital economy, including enhanced data security, careful attention to customer experiences and digital logistics.
The architecture of a campus network involves a “dual slice” solution: two slices being broadcasted — a public network (the “public slice”) and an exclusive private network (the “private slice”) — running on the same hardware. Superficially, this resembles the commonplace setup of a business using a WLAN for data exchange, such as industrial purposes, while employees and customers connect to carrier 4G/LTE networks for their personal communications. But the implications are very different and wide ranging.
For one thing, the campus network marks a radical shift towards mobility. Instead of having a network supplier provide infrastructure and a mobile network operator providing the cellular network from the outside, the mobile network operator is both the provider for smartphone data and the enterprise network at the core of the system.
Today, a company’s wireless network infrastructure — the equivalent of a “private network” — is Wi-Fi. Outside of a company facility, employees’ mobile devices run on a carrier’s 4G/LTE network. Of course, switching between Wi-Fi and mobile networks can happen automatically on employees’ smartphones. But what about a robot? Or a pallet full of goods that you need to track as it leaves a facility, during its journey in a shipping container, and as it arrives at a distribution warehouse?’