I feel old.  Not because my eyes are going and my body is creaking (I will leave those complaints to my business partner, Richard Hobbs).  I feel old because I was around in this space BEFORE 1G came out.  Now, we’re hearing more and more about the upcoming launch of 5G...

And....the speeds are incredible.  Downloading a full HD movie in your house, in less than 30 seconds, is mind-boggling, let alone at the mall while your wife spends all of your money (sorry, I digress).  Not only is it fast, it offers very low latency scores meaning that remote connections are now as close to "real-time" as you can get.

So, when 5G comes out, that must be the end of using one of one these, right?

I mean, who would still use these when comparable speeds are available over wireless?

The case for wired connections

Let's face it, most businesses still run over a wired Internet connection.  While I am writing this on an iPad (which uses a Wi-Fi) connection, my Internet service is provided by a hard-wired connection.

Here are a few reasons why this may not change, even with 5G:

1. Businesses stick with what is proven:   While you may upgrade immediately to the latest version of Windows or IOS, many businesses do not.  They find out what works and they stick with it for a long time.  I see the same for the use of wired connections.

2. Unlimited usage plans mean fixed costs:  Businesses like to be able to plan costs out well in advance.  Wired connections may be expensive, but they offer fixed costs for better planning.

3. Complex deployments:  Many companies have invested heavily in dedicated connections based on a wired architecture.  Unless they see a huge need to change, they will try to maximize the length of those investments.

As well, even in my house, I still use a hardwired connection for some key devices, such as my desk Mac. 

Why would this be?

1. Some devices are Wi-Fi hogs:  Ok, I am not a WiFi expert, but I do know that when I moved my Smart TV to a wired connection, I not only saw better/smoother performance for applications like Netflix on the TV, but I also saw other devices performing better on Wi-Fi...

2. Coverage – speeds: My office computer is about 15-20 feet away from my router.  There is only a single, thin door that stands between to block signal.  However, I lose up to 20-25% of my browsing speed using a wireless connection when compared to an Ethernet one.

3. Powerline extenders:  In my bedroom, signal strength for WiFi is an issue.  It is at the opposite side of my house and the signal has to go through multiple walls/floors.  Even using a WiFi extender, it was difficult to get consistent speeds to even watch NetFlix.  I solved this problem by using a Powerline-based extension solution that uses the electrical system in your home as an Ethernet replacement...works great.

The Bottom Line

So, am I advocating that you avoid cellular data and WiFi?  Hardly…but we may not wish to write off these technologies just because 5G is on its way.  One also has to factor in that 5G may require an extraordinary amount of signal enhancement for many locations, as it may not penetrate through walls as well as other technologies. That being said, many users may fall back to 4G for a long time.  So, don't throw out that old switch quite yet!