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5G offers the channel a chance to challenge networking status quo

A serious alternative to the existing approach to connectivity is coming in the form of 5G, which should result in channel opportunities

The networking world is at an inflexion point, with the power of 5G presenting the channel with a chance to help customers rethink their strategies, according to leading experts in 5G technology.

Before Covid-19 struck, this year was expected to be dominated by a handful of technologies, including 5G. There has been a wave of research and industry comment around the technology over the past few days as it emerges again as a key topic for 2021, largely thanks to Apple putting it front and centre with the iPhone 12 launch.

The channel is well versed in handling ground-breaking product launches and trying to add services around them, and it is set to do the same with 5G, with the technology coming at a time when customers are looking seriously at the future of office communications and their networking strategy.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions to work from home, and questions that might have been avoided around connectivity and security have had to be quickly dealt with. Now, with many reporting that they expect to keep working remotely in the future, customers are considering how those out of the office are connected with the existing network.

“These waves of change that we see occurring every six or seven years [are happening now], and the big one is around 5G right now,” said James Bristow, senior vice-president of Cradlepoint Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

“These are exciting times in the industry with virtualisation and cloudification, as well as exponential changes in the way we all do things, which have been accelerated by Covid-19,” he added.

Bristow said that there had been a lot of focus on the edge and the need to connect more devices and wireless connections, and the capability to provide high-speed, reliable and secure connectivity was there with 4G but had not been realised.

The amount of noise around 5G means that the same is not likely to happen this time around, meaning the channel has a serious alternative to offer those looking at both their wired and wireless networks.

“The big dynamic that has changed is that where the cellular network was more of a mobile-centric solution, and really it was about mobile telephony, it’s now become the enterprise connection network of choice because you can achieve similar speeds on what you would with [wireless lines in the office]. It is a much flatter network, more dynamic and more agile,” said Bristow.

“5G is the catalyst where everyone looks at what it delivers on mass scale, with high performance and a broader range, and they think, ‘I can rethink my network strategy here’.”

Given the expected opportunity for partners, the firm is looking to increase its channel numbers and is actively growing its partner base here and across the rest of Europe.

“We have a partner model that’s expanding at the moment across EMEA, because we have mainly been in North America, but we are now expanding and making big investments in Europe,” said Bristow. “We are open for business and ready for new partners.”

Bristow said that the acquisition of Cradlepoint by Ericsson, which was announced in September, was not far off from closing, and the muscle that the communications player would bring to the table made it a more powerful message to the market and even more of an attraction to prospective partners.

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