Ciena and Samsung Team on Carrier 5G

5 Gconcept1

By: Mary Jander

Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. jointly announced plans to develop 5G hardware and software solutions to carriers. The result could spur the adoption of enterprise 5G worldwide – or at least get people thinking about it.

“In order to deliver more powerful 5G services, the current network architecture needs to evolve,” said Wonil Roh, SVP and Head of Product Strategy, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics, in a press release.

Few would argue with that assessment. While 5G continues to ramp up in the consumer space, many innovative applications for business use remain in trials and test labs. Greater speeds, lower latency, and more edge intelligence is required to sustain edge-heavy apps in manufacturing facilities, retail, healthcare, agriculture, mining, urban, and automotive environments.

5G Power from Core to Edge

Meanwhile, Ciena and Samsung are, along with other major vendors, greasing the wheels to get the 5G business bus moving. The Ciena/Samsung teaming unites Ciena’s routing and switching products, Packet Transport System, aggregation routers, Ethernet-over-DWDM packet switch, and Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) controller with Samsung’s mmWave 5G radios, mid-band spectrum and CBRS wares, core technology, and virtualized RANs. The result is a series of high-speed, low-latency networking solutions that will enable telcos to furnish the platforms needed for applications that couple enormous swathes of Internet of Things (IoT) data with artificial intelligence (AI) at multiple distributed locations.

The question is, Are users ready for these applications?

Industry sources say there are a couple of bottlenecks to standalone 5G implementations, even in light of impressive vendor solutions such as Ciena and Samsung’s. Operators are waiting for the kind of return-on-investment (ROI) that advanced features such as augmented reality/virtual reality are supposed to bring. Their enterprise customers are struggling to establish their own ROI for deploying these kinds of 5G apps. As a result, there are at least 10,000-odd proof-of-concept trials worldwide, spanning a dizzying array of use cases and containing a plentiful supply of innovative gear from major telecom suppliers and other interested parties. But many of these pilots aren't commercialized.

“It simply takes time,” one industry source told Futuriom. “Most enterprises are quite risk averse. They must build trust in technology before they commit to it.” Still, all it takes, he said, is one application to take off in order to release pent-up demand.

Ciena and Samsung appear to understand this. “Together with Samsung, we’re fueling the next generation of mobile connectivity to unleash the full potential of 5G,” said Matt Cook, VP, Global Partner Organization, Ciena, in the press release. “As both companies are leading innovators in our respective spaces with strong customer bases for these portfolios, this powerful collaboration leverages our collective leadership to create best-in-breed 5G networks that are open, scalable and adaptive.”

So Where Are the 5G Business Apps?

All of this prompts questions about what’s really happening out there in the real world of 5G adoption. And the answer appears to be that it’s complicated. First off, many organizations looking to 5G want to support 4G LTE as well. Their IoT applications are capable of running well on both networks.

In this regard, video and computer vision applications top the list of apps requiring high performance in business scenarios. Surveillance for security, worker safety, inventory tracking, and similar use cases are in demand, and the more cameras and data required, the more 5G becomes a practical solution. This may prove to be one of the applications that opens the way for other, more complex, uses of computer vision.

The availability of Ciena and Samsung’s integrated solution indicates that vendors are intent on staying ahead of the curve, aiming to drive demand with attractive and innovative products -- and to suggest applications to their carrier customers that would breach resistance and deliver ROI.