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CIO upfront: Assessing NZ’s readiness for 5G

CIO upfront: Assessing NZ’s readiness for 5G

Organisations must consider the influx of endpoint devices producing enormous amounts of information, as well as a holistic assessment of the storage, security and compliance of this data, writes Matt Oostveen, chief technology officer at Pure Storage

Credit: ID 119667985 © Haiyin | Dreamstime.com

It’s not only humans that will be consuming 5G services

5G has the potential to radically change data storage and delivery. Enterprises are excited about 5G’s capabilities which will improve operations like remote working and ensure our mobile networks are faster, more intelligent, and more flexible – supporting the next wave of connected devices and vehicles. 

However, 5G also brings with it challenges in the form of rapid data creation, and concerns have been raised about rising data storage costs if our data retention regimes are not reviewed and calibrated for its arrival. 

With all of that in mind, there is a lot that New Zealand needs to consider as it prepares to roll out 5G from December 2019 onwards. 

Is NZ behind the eight ball?

Historically, New Zealand has typically been at the forefront of technology adoption. For example, it was one of the first countries to adopt a cloud-first approach across the public sector. 

What’s more, Infosys research shows that of 196 ANZ enterprises, 58 per cent have implemented cloud programs across all or most functions, compared to the US (54 per cent) and Europe (41 per cent). 

However, when it comes to technologies like 5G, other countries have leapfrogged New Zealand. Like Singapore, which is in the process of rolling out multiple 5G networks by 2020 and is currently in its second public consultation phase on issues like regulatory frameworks and policies for the next-generation network. 

To be successful, 5G must be developed and implemented in shared partnership between government, telecommunications providers, and partners. 

New Zealand’s limited preparedness has significant ramifications. 

Matt OostveenCredit: Supplied
Matt Oostveen

We’ll see hand-in-glove relationships developing between 5G and AI, IoT and edge computing, as these technologies accelerate the growth of the network

Not only does it impact organisations’ ability to harness the potential of 5G and the opportunities it brings, it also means that until multiple vendors are onboard with 5G, we won’t realistically see widespread coverage of the network, across the country.

The new infrastructure environment 

Many have questioned whether we’ll truly notice a difference between high-end 4G and early 5G, or if it will replace the Ultra-Fast Broadband scheme and fibre to the home. 

In reality, it’s more likely that 5G will act as a great addition to fibre connections. It can operate just as quickly but it will ultimately depend on consumer uptake of 5G and whether individuals choose to change to all-you-can-eat style data plans.

The most important promise from the proprietors of 5G technology is that once all of the components are fully deployed and operational, you will not need wires or cables. 

If all goes to plan, 5G will be the optimum solution to the classic “last mile” problem: Delivering complete digital connectivity from the tip of the carrier network to the customer, without drilling another hole through a wall. 

To reduce the cost of this infrastructure, we’re likely to see small cell infrastructure, or smaller transmitters that consume lower power, but that cover smaller service areas than typical 4G towers. 

We might need more of them, but they can be conceivably better integrated with the landscape, imagine these cells as common features in urban areas, much like lamp posts are. 

Transforming tech opportunities

It’s not only humans that will be consuming 5G services. As this faster, more intelligent and flexible network comes online, there will be a huge uptake from software consuming services and devices. 

We’ll see hand-in-glove relationships developing between 5G and AI, IoT and edge computing, as these technologies accelerate the growth of the network. 

The cost of making an object intelligent has been approaching zero for a number of years. The focus is now on connecting and moving the massive amount of data that is created by IoT devices, from the edge where it is made, into an organisation’s central analytics capability, where it can be processed and acted on quickly. 5G builds bridges that will help us move this data rapidly from point to point. 

To that point, managing this explosion of data (which is set to grow at a CAGR of 61 per cent until 2025) will be one of the key challenges for New Zealand businesses to overcome, as they prepare for and embed 5G into their operations. 

Organisations must ensure that their approach to 5G considers the influx of endpoint devices producing enormous amounts of information, as well as a holistic assessment of the storage, security and compliance of this data.

Is your organisation ready?

With 5G officially launching in December, now is the time to consider how your organisation will leverage the network.

Keep an eye out for these signs across the country, to know that New Zealand is capable and ready for 5G: A rise in edge infrastructure investments and edge data centres to help pre-process the growth of data; an uptick in deployment of servers and storage in remote data centres; and small remote, or office-style data centres that are closer to key industry areas like agriculture. 

Credit: Dreamstime

Matt Oostveen, chief technology officer and VP – Asia Pacific, Pure Storage

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