Unlocking innovation starts with 5G

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece James Bristow, SVP EMEA at Cradlepoint, discusses 5G’s role in enabling and enhancing IoT applications due to high data rates and low latency.

Guest author

June 28, 2024

5 Min Read

Businesses in the UK are hunting for ways to boost automation, improve worker productivity, and help reach their sustainability goals, and they're adopting new technology to help them do this. In particular, firms are embracing huge numbers of IoT devices, with Statista predicting the number of deployed devices will reach 30 billion by 2030.

These devices can help manufacturers monitor machine performance in factories, ensure food is transported at the right temperature, and reduce energy consumption within office buildings. Firms can also apply AI and machine learning tools to the data generated by these devices, giving managers greater insight into how their organisations are performing and where changes can be made to improve workflow.

Companies who want to realise the full potential of these technologies need to combine them with a robust and agile network that can cope with the increased data being transmitted. In these cases, secure cellular networking is the only option to help businesses unlock innovation. While findings from our latest State of Connectivity report found that businesses perceive several hurdles in making the shift to secure cellular networks, from delayed investment in infrastructure to a lack of skills within the organisation itself, in reality, these barriers are easy to overcome when firms find the right partner to work with.

What is holding cellular networking adoption back?

Despite the UK government predicting 5G could add £159 billion through improved productivity by 2035 and launching its Wireless infrastructure strategy in 2023, nearly three-quarters of businesses believe the current investment is insufficient. Unfortunately, this sentiment is backed up by the fact that 5G download speeds in the UK average just 124.4Mbps, significantly behind leaders like South Korea, who achieve 432.5Mbps. Likewise, 5G is only available in the UK 10.1% of the time, compared to 43% in South Korea and 48% in Puerto Rico.

Sadly, even if 5G was more widely available, firms still face various challenges when implementing a secure cellular network. For example, nearly a third (32%) report a lack of in-house skills required to deploy and maintain a fixed wireless network. Likewise, a quarter have concerns over their ability to secure a new network and believe the complexity of change is too much for them.

As a result, it is no surprise that over half of UK businesses have yet to take advantage of secure cellular networks within their organisations despite the advantages. However, it is vital that executives do not put off embracing the technology now if they are to be competitive in the future.  

Wireless WANs aren't as complicated as you think

Modern businesses are no longer confined to the office environment. Firms need to connect people, vehicles, pop-up locations, kiosks, cloud services and an ever-expanding universe of IoT devices. Only wireless WANs can bring the agility, low latency and high bandwidth necessary to achieve this connectivity.

For instance, while many people think of IoT in terms of occasional data that has little impact on the existing network, when it comes to many IoT use cases, such as video surveillance, telehealth, and automated manufacturing, can generate large amounts of data that need to be transmitted over the network. Secure cellular wireless is unique in that it can support everything from very low to very high bandwidth IoT applications within the same wireless WAN, secured by the same tools, and managed by the same platform.

These networks can also be managed through cloud-based tools, meaning IT teams can troubleshoot problems, send out updates, and monitor usage without spending time travelling to many different sites. These benefits reduce employee workload and give firms a network that can quickly scale with the business as it grows.    

 Reaping the benefits

Due to wireless WANs' ability to help firms take advantage of technology like IoT and AI, it is no surprise a fifth of UK leaders believe it could help boost revenues by up to 20% over a year. This revenue boost is driven by businesses' ability to automate more processes, boosting productivity and allowing staff to focus on higher-impact tasks. For example, a manufacturing firm can use IoT devices to monitor machine health on the factory floor and use AI to help predict when it might need additional maintenance, helping businesses reduce unexpected downtime and avoid costly repair bills.

Finally, it is clear wireless WANs can have a significant impact on helping businesses achieve their sustainability goals. For instance, three-fifths of executives believe they need smarter facilities to operate more sustainably. Secure cellular networks can support the increased data flows that will come from these improvements and help firms manage facilities more efficiently. For example, monitoring if workers use a meeting room and whether they turn off the lights or the heating when it is empty reduces energy consumption.

As firms continue to forge ahead with their digital transformation and sustainability initiatives, they must consider whether their existing connectivity infrastructure can support their ambitions. Firms must invest in solutions that can provide reliable, robust, and flexible connectivity from day one if they want to truly become a modern, competitive business.


James Bristow is the Senior Vice President of the EMEA region at Cradlepoint. With over 30 years’ experience in the industry, James is an expert in helping organisations orchestrate cloud, software, security, cellular and networking architectures, as well as offering extensive experience in the Service Provider and Enterprise customer segments.

Read more about:

Get the latest news straight to your inbox.
Register for the Telecoms.com newsletter here.

You May Also Like