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Some companies are considering ditching WiFi for private 5G

Audi is among those who are testing the technology.
Kris Holt, @krisholt
November 30, 2018
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No matter how much it's changed our lives, WiFi can be endlessly annoying because of how spotty and unreliable it often is, even for those of us in small homes. It can prove a bigger headache still for companies that need reliable connections for their devices, particularly across a wide area. So, some businesses are looking towards a newer method of keeping their equipment and employees connected: 5G.

Mobile internet is already faster than WiFi in many countries, and the shift to 5G will ensure connections are even speedier. Low latency, flexibility, sturdier security and data-prioritization functions have also helped make 5G an attractive proposition. According to MIT Technology Review, Audi is among those considering private networks and this summer it started testing 5G connections for its robots. If it works out, Audi may use 5G to completely replace its WiFi networks.

BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen also seem interested in 5G, as are utilities and shipping ports, along with manufacturing, oil, gas and chemical companies. German businesses are particularly keen, according to the report, as they expect it will help them stay at the forefront of advanced manufacturing as part of a national initiative called Industrie 4.0.

Private 5G networks will likely prove a boon for equipment manufacturers and companies that help manage such networks. One research company estimates the market will generate $356 billion in ten years. Especially in the near term, cost may be a limiting factor for smaller companies interested in 5G, and even larger businesses could face hurdles in gaining wireless spectrum access they'll need to operate their networks.

However, once companies have their equipment and spectrum access, they'll be able to build their networks even if mobile operators haven't flipped the switch on 5G around their business sites. Operators started deploying public 5G networks in the US this year, and it's expected to be broadly available in 2020.

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