It’s easy to forget about SIM cards. They sit in the side of your phone connecting you to the internet – but it’s a technology that we’ve quickly taken for granted.
In truth, there’s more to the SIM than just providing us with personal internet. In fact – although it’s something few people realise – they can bring a new level of business connectivity.
Here, we’ll take a look at how cellular connectivity has got to where it is today – and explain some of the benefits that 5G has as the connectivity behind a wide area network (WAN).
How have we got to 5G?
To get a full understanding of fifth generation cellular networks (5G) it’s useful to step back in time and look at how cellular networks have developed.
Although we didn’t call them 1G at the time, we’ve since given this name to the analogue radio networks that were first used commercially in the 1980s. At the time, these were perfectly suited to our needs – but analogue waves only allowed for voice to be carried over the airwaves. This was the case until the early ‘90s, when 2G networks were developed that let us carry small packets of data with voice.
These small packets of data brought about the advent of small messages – sent to pagers and phones – as well as being able to show data when the phone rang – with caller display becoming popular.
When 3G came along just before the dawn of the new millennium, the internet was truly unlocked to our mobile devices. Emails could be accessed on the move and websites could be viewed – although devices were far from the mobile computers we have today. That changed in 2008 though – with smartphones now popular, 4G was launched – compressing data more tightly and efficiently than before – and bringing desktop quality internet to our phones.
The trouble is, 4G’s never been able to match wired internet connections – so going truly wireless has never been an option for businesses. The advent of 5G is likely to change that though – with the technology promising to deliver speeds that are over 100 times faster than 4G.
Until now, 4G SIMs haven’t really been capable of offering much more than a good level of personal internet connection. As a result, it’s been necessary to either load-balance or bond the connections of numerous SIMs to get anything close to a business level connection.
Of course, this means dedicated routers – some of which allow for 20 or more SIMs to be inserted. As a result, you can take the performance of one SIM and multiply it by the number of SIMs you have.
With many 4G routers capable of handling 5G SIMs though, the potential for incredible speeds could be realised. Even if we imagine that a single 5G SIM has is capble of speeds just 20x more than that of a 4G counterpart – then a router that’s capable of holding 10 SIMs could offer 200x times the speed of a similar device set up with 4G SIMs.
Of course, it’s not just speed that a multi-card router will provide – there’s also the inherent robustness of a connection that doesn’t rely on a single provider. With multiple SIMs, you can have multiple providers – so even if you lose connection with one, you still have a lightning fast connection provided by your other cellular network providers.
What does this mean for business?
Well, as our title has already given away, 5G WAN is a very real possibility for businesses in the not-to-distant future – and it unlocks a number of possibilities for business that have otherwise been tied to a fixed connection.
Working on client sites
Never before has the world seen so many service providers working hand in hand with larger companies. If you want to put your people into client sites, it’s useful to be able to walk in and start working – without relying on any of their infrastructure. 5G WAN will allow this – with mobile routers being used to connect remote staff to your network with the same speed and security they could expect sitting in your office.
If you’ve set up a business internet connection, you’ll realise it’s a time-consuming and often headache-inspiring process. Waits of weeks (and even months) are not uncommon – and it’s also not uncommon to come up against problems with the local authority or business landlords. 5G WAN allows you to plug into a power source and have your network up and running within hours.
Having employees off site
Recent events have shown us quite how important it is to have a workforce that can operate from home if necessary or appropriate. 5G connectivity gives employees the ability to join your 5G WAN network remotely – but with the speed and security they could expect if they were sitting at a desk in your headquarters.
Setting up new locations
Setting up new premises and second offices is often something that businesses shy away from – especially since getting out of the gate often represents an investment of time and money that can mean the project won’t see any return on your investment for a lengthy period. Setting up a new location with 5G connectivity will be possible in days – rather than months – and significantly reduces the person-power and money needed to make it happen.
Creating temporary locations
Creating a temporary location often involves so much IT work that any gain is eaten up by the resources needed to just get established on site. Shows, expos, pop-ups, temporary retail, short-term office lets – they’re all great ideas, but often impractical in reality. With 5G, you’ll be able to turn up, switch on, and start working or taking payments over your secure system – the kind of agility that will leave you competitors behind you.
Ultimately, if you’re looking to grow or harness opportunities that have otherwise been out of your grasp – 5G could bring a business revolution your way, shedding wires and keeping your business as agile as your personal internet connection.