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January 27, 2022updated 01 Feb 2022 2:27pm

Enterprise mobility is relevant again

By GlobalData Technology

For the last several years, enterprise mobility announcements, including new services, geographic expansion, unique go-to-market strategies and alliances, new device types, and enhanced management platforms were few and far between.

Operators had seemingly topped out the potential of their 3G/4G networks for enterprise usage. While revenues were still solid, there hadn’t been a lot of growth or excitement and enterprise mobility was often buried as just a core enabler in more advanced services such as IoT, big data/analytics, and Unified Communications.

This is rapidly changing with the advent of 5G, along with edge computing; massive IoT on low power networks; mobile private networks; and devices for frontline workers such as ruggedized computers, barcode scanners, and wearables for employee safety. Each of these technologies and innovations are driving additional demand for new management platforms, go-to-market alliances, and services.

Enterprise mobility announcements

Over the past 12 months, there have been many enterprise mobility announcements from US and global operators. They can be divided into four main categories: 5G/edge, private networks, devices/management, and vertical solutions:

5G/Edge

  • Verizon expands 5G Ultra Wideband to 100 million people in 1700+ cities, with speeds up to 10x faster than 4G LTE.Verizon also launched new plans for consumers and businesses, for both mobile access and broadband internet access.
  • AT&T and Microsoft partner to deliver the first Azure Edge Zone in Atlanta, GA. The collaboration will combine AT&T’s 5G capabilities, via its AT&T Network Edge solution, with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.
  • AT&T opened up sub-6 GHz 5G access for enterprise IoT deployments, with usage visibility and managed services via Cisco Control Center.
  • Verizon announced the availability of its mobile edge compute solution with AWS Outposts, a cloud computing platform that brings compute and storage services to the edge of the network on the customer premises.
  • Verizon announced on-premises, private edge compute solution on Microsoft Azure. Verizon 5G Edge with Microsoft Azure Stack Edge is a cloud computing platform that brings compute and storage services to the edge of the network at the customer premises.
  • BT/EE to offer 5G solutions across the entire UK, as BT Group unveils new mobile and convergence ambitions; full integration of fiber, Wi-Fi and mobile networks will be complete by mid-2020s, delivering highly secure, seamless ultra-reliable connectivity.
  • Telefónica Tech signed a collaboration agreement with Microsoft, combining Telefónica Private 5G connectivity with Microsoft’s edge computing capabilities on customer premise, to enable the automation and control of industrial processes.

Private Mobile Networks

  • Telefónica established regional network operations centers in Spain, Brazil, the UK, and Germany to manage private 5G networks on behalf of local enterprises.
  • Vodafone announced the launch of Mobile Private Network Collaborative Worker, featuring ruggedized wearables.
  • Verizon Business announced On Site 5G, a private 5G network solution. On Site 5G networks are custom-designed and managed by Verizon, allowing large enterprise and public sector customers to bring 5G Ultra Wideband to indoor or outdoor facilities.

Devices/Management Solutions

  • Orange Business made available a Frontline Worker Device Management service for ruggedized computers, featuring a partnership with Zebra; also new is ITSM e-bonding, the integration of customer ITSM platforms with Orange and FreeMove Alliance systems.
  • Vodafone and Mavenir developed a small cell solution to provide indoor 4G connectivity for business customers. The plug-and-play equipment can ensure comprehensive mobile coverage in every corner of the office.
  • Deutsche Telecom and partner EBF developed eSIM Business Manager that can link information from different systems and operator contracts for easy end-point enrollment and activation.
  • Deutsche Telekom and EBF allied for device lifecycle management from ordering and assembly of mobile devices, through delivery and management, to return and exchange.

Vertical Solutions

  • Vodafone struck new partnerships with Accenture and Deloitte for managed security and healthcare, respectively.
  • AT&T announced that FirstNet reached 2.8 million connections among 18,500 public safety and other organizations (e.g. utilities, healthcare) and surpassed 95% of its nationwide Band 14 coverage with over 315 devices certified.
  • Deutsche Telekom launched mobile option for 5G networking in cars in partnership with BMW. The deal involves the use of a “personal eSIM” which turns the vehicle into another connected device.

The outlook for 2022 is promising for enterprise mobility

The outlook for 2022 is promising. 5G is still a nascent technology but has energized the enterprise mobility (and IoT) markets with the promise of low latency, innovative use cases generating new sources of revenue. Mobile private networks are already considered a major opportunity, and the capacity and high bandwidth of 5G, especially when used along with edge computing and network slicing, will increase the likelihood of it becoming a disruptive technology.