Full Speed Ahead

What local businesses need to do to get ready for the arrival of 5G.

You can already do a lot with your cellphone. But with 5G—which stands for fifth-generation cellular wireless—you’ll be able to do even more.

“Cellphones and the devices that connect to or through them will see significant speed improvements,” says Jake Spanberger, president of Entech, a Fort Myers–based IT consulting and solutions company.

All four major U.S. wireless carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon—have begun minimal rollouts of 5G in some major cities, but it will take them time to make all the equipment and network upgrades necessary on their end for broader expansion. Which means now is a good time for Southwest Florida businesses to start preparing for 5G’s arrival here. Spanberger shares his tips and advice to help local companies get ready for the next wireless revolution.

 

Be patient.

It will take a while for 5G to get to these parts. And when it does, more densely populated areas will likely get it first. “The equipment will keep being updated where money and investment allows,” says Spanberger. “But we’re going to slowly but surely get more and more coverage.”

 

Understand the benefits.

The availability of 5G will dramatically expand the efficiencies and capabilities of remote working. That means everything from being able to send and receive large files incredibly quickly to easily controlling the thermostat in your office and managing other building functions through the ever-expanding Internet of Things.

“You could be sitting on the beach and if you’re somewhere with 5G coverage, you’ll be able to do all the work you need to do as if you were in the office,” says Spanberger. “Being able to do your average, everyday work from anywhere is certainly going to be a big plus.”

 

Expect to upgrade.

“Equipment is going to be the bottleneck,” says Spanberger. “You’ll have to upgrade your equipment to get 5G, which most people do every year or two anyway.” So don’t expect to save money by hanging on to that several-years-old cellphone. You’ll also have to check in with the Internet provider you use for your business to see if there are any changes you need to make there to get corresponding 5G-type speeds.

 

Don’t forget about security.

It’s no longer an option but instead an absolute necessity. “Yes, 5G is going to be efficient and it’s going to be extremely convenient to work remotely,” says Spanberger. “But it also opens the door for bad guys. Hack- ers will be able to sit in the middle of a parking lot and do bad things.”

He says businesses need to both harness the power of 5G and make sure they’re safe while doing so.

“We’ve been preaching to our clients that it’s no longer if you’re going to have a security threat, it’s when,” he says. “Security is inconvenient, but you have to always be open to taking the steps to ensure that your network and data assets are completely protected. You have to have a security-first mentality. 5G is going to open to the world to tons of great things and great technology, but it’s also going to open the door to all the things we’re seeing in the news these days.”