These are interesting times in the world of the wireless communications that form the backbone of our mobile business world. As the major carriers jockey for advantage, while at the same time wrestling with criticisms of high prices and poor service, it is unclear where all this will ultimately lead. For example, as of this year, Sprint already holds 2.5-GHz spectrum licenses and plans to use that advantage to attempt to beat the competition to market. At the same time, T-Mobile announced as well that they will use their newly purchased 600-MHz spectrum to develop and build a coast-to-coast 5G network by 2020. And in the land of the “giants”, we know AT&T and Verizon 5G rollouts on their road maps for 2020, but in higher-frequency bands, such as the 28-GHz range. However, to further complicate things, Sprint has been running successful trials in this range for the past two years.
So while everyone is charging off to be first to market with 5G, there’s also the T-Mobile – Sprint merger to consider. To fully see the potential to change the industry landscape you have to look beyond mobility and smartphones and tablets. Yes, this is a big deal and they will compete (probably more aggressively) with AT&T and Verizon, however, they are also a dark horse with regard to their terrestrial networks. One of the advantages of the network transformation is the improvement of overall performance, quicker installs and lower construction costs through leveraging neutral datacenters. With the ability to offer transport to connect larger locations with inexpensive access to connectivity for remote offices by utilizing more end devices like SD-WAN, they are able to bring a viable alternative to the market.
In many network designs today, the enterprise is using cable broadband for back-up or remote site access. This approach can be prohibitively expensive to install ( “special construction” charges) and have clunky implementations. When Sprint brings it’s high speed 5G mobility to market, legacy issues will likely disappear. The only restriction in the new design is the ability to connect to service towers. In Sprint’s trials they are already finding ways around that issue by using small cellular signal booster technology which it has named the “Magic Box”. It is equally likely that the rest of the industry players are evaluating and fine-tuning their approaches to 5G rollout.
So, while the “safe” money is on the two mobility leaders and their ability to shape the market, it’s worth keeping a close eye on the T-Mobile/Sprint “dark horse” combo as they roll out their terrestrial network to compete with the big players of SD-WAN. This will give the enterprise more options to choose from when researching SD-WAN solutions. More competition is good!