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Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

The fifth generation of cellular technology (i.e. 5G) has the promise of changing our lives in almost unimaginable ways. Downlink speeds are expected to increase by an order of magnitude and the internet-of-things will bring on millions of new devices to cellular networks. It is important, now more than ever, for CEOs, CTOs, and CIOs of enterprises across the world to be aware of how this shift will impact their organizations at strategic and tactical levels.


While being heavily marketed today, enterprise deployments of 5G by global carriers will take time to deploy over the next several years, but Cisco is busy at work exploring evolved 5G solutions with LTE Advanced Pro and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). LTE Advanced Pro leverages higher LTE category speeds, as defined by 3GPP, and can be thought of as a similar evolution that was seen in 3G with HSPA+. The expected downlink and uplink speeds for LTE Advanced Pro will be 600 Mbps to 1.2 Gbps and 100 to 200 Mbps, respectively.


Looking beyond 4G, Cisco is a current leader in early 5G testing with carriers and chipset makers in an effort to be ready with the most advanced network technology for our customers and partners. Potential opportunities to extend 5G in areas of our portfolio and develop wholly new offerings is as exciting to us as it is to our community.  As such, we wanted to give an initial look into the areas where we see 5G impacting your wide area network and breakdown some of the complexity around 5G. 


WAN Enhanced by 5G

Network Edge

As covered in a recent Cisco blog, workloads at the edge of the network are growing with the need to process and store more data locally without backhauling to the data center. Cisco has addressed many of today’s edge demands for enterprises with a range of platforms, including Cisco 5000 Series Enterprise Network Compute System, Cisco 4000 Series Integrated Services Routers, Cisco 1000 Series Integrated Services Routers, and Cisco ASR 1000 Series Aggregation Services Routers. We are continuing to leverage our strengths and innovate with 5G to bring the next cellular generation to future platforms and many of the familiar platforms that our customers know and trust.


In addition to growing processing and storage needs at the edge, it is expected that 5G will cause a shift for cellular from being secondary (or back-up) connection to a primary connection at the edge, as service level agreements will allow for speeds greater than Ethernet and DSL. In fact, U.S. carriers have recently announced offerings with LTE Advanced Pro for enterprises that would be comparable in service and lower cost than traditional wireline service. However, enterprises must strategically position themselves with network technology that can not only handle 5G transmissions, but also effectively manage traffic throughout the WAN, such as Cisco’s soon to come cellular extension innovations.


Software Defined (SD) WAN

There was a day when the WAN was difficult to manage. Luckily, the days of difficult traffic management through disparate infrastructure within the WAN are behind us. Cisco SD-WAN allows users to abstract the management of the WAN from the physical layer to optimize traffic in an easy-to-use interface. The ability to separate planes will enable enterprises to take the complexity out of adding additional 5G connections throughout their WANs. Customers will be able to focus on the metrics that impact your business, such as latency, jitter, and quality of experience.


5G Complexity Simplified

The exponential increase in speeds from 5G will be predicated on five key aspects: millimeter waves, massive multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO), beamforming, small cell, and full duplex. These technologies have the opportunity to bring independent improvements that can work synergistically.


It is important as an organization to know which components are important to your specific needs and whether they will be available in your area. The overview below provides a simplified overview of the expected new 5G technologies to affect you.






Millimeter Waves

Cellular signal can now be delivered in millimeter length waves, as opposed to centimeter length

More data, by a factor of 10, can be sent within a single transmission

Higher frequency waves have difficulty traveling through obstacles (e.g. trees, buildings, rain)

Massive MIMO

Existing MIMO capabilities have improved to increase the number of antennas for  transmitting and receiving

Traffic capacity of mobile networks can increase by a factor of 22 or greater

Greater interference can potentially occur when more antennas are introduced into equipment


Optimal paths can be calculated and applied to transmissions and concentrated beams can be pointed in specific directions

Complimentary to millimeter waves by choosing paths without obstacles and to massive MIMO by limiting interference

Hardware necessary for path forming is expensive and consumes more power than alternative technology

Small Cell

Portable miniature base stations that are able to be deployed more densely than traditional base stations

Carriers can deploy base stations more easily throughout urban environments

Infrastructure costs associated with denser deployments could stall wider roll-outs

Full Duplex

A transceiver will be able to transmit and receive data at the same time, on the same frequency

Could double the capacity of a specific frequency and, by extension, mobile networks

Wave interference can result from an “echo” occurring from transmissions


Cisco, Your Trusted 5G Partner

With our over 30 years of experience, Cisco will continue to push the boundaries of networking to bring the most innovative products to our partners and customers. For us, 5G is simply just another technology that will help us make your enterprise move quicker, more efficient, and meet the demands of tomorrow. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today to learn more about how your enterprise can benefit from 5G and stay tuned for upcoming 5G posts, where we will dive deeper into various use cases and technologies around 5G.

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