As business connections continue to evolve, we take a deeper look at the options available

With so much of our lives now being lived and conducted online, it makes sense that tech companies are increasingly battling to deliver the fastest, strongest, most reliable connections for individuals and businesses alike. From organisation-wide digital transformations to the proliferation of IoT devices syncing our personal lives, the need for high-speed, robust connectivity has never been greater. As organisations embrace a cloud-first we can expect to start seeing a move away from traditional MPLS and towards SD-WAN connections, and 5G finally making its mark.

What is MPLS?

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) has been the trusted, go-to connectivity choice for organisations for decades. The technology runs on proprietary hardware to deliver dedicated lines, reliably and securely, with private connections that offer end-to-end quality of service. So far, so good for business.

One of the driving forces behind the long-standing popularity of MPLS is the reliability of its connections: it seamlessly delivers packets to their intended destinations, while minimising packet loss and keeping an organisation’s most important traffic flowing.

But, per megabit of data, MPLS is expensive. And as organisations become increasingly invested in delivering multimedia experiences and content – with bandwidth-hungry video and augmented reality driving everything from content marketing to customer services – MPLS no longer makes good financial sense. This is where SD-WAN is stepping up to plug the gap.

What is SD-WAN?

Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) are built for flexibility of cost as well as service. An SD-WAN essentially virtualises the functions that run on the network infrastructure and provisions them as software. They can be dedicated lines or public networks, and are designed to make geographic boundaries less relevant while enhancing visibility, scalability, performance and control.

As organisations move more towards multi-cloud deployments and cloud-native platforms, IT teams are finding more and more uses for SD-WAN, including the deployment of applications that would usually overwhelm dedicated circuits like MPLS. Further, SD-WAN’s ability to apply appropriate organisation policies and steer traffic means IT teams can connect users to multiple cloud-based and cloud-native platforms, and its support of micro-segmentation means traffic flows can be isolated for enhanced security. Another coup for IT teams is that SD-WAN gives them the ability to cost-effectively mix and match network links according to priority or content type and make upgrades without having to fundamentally alter infrastructure or networks (read more about SD-WAN considerations for your business).

In most SD-WAN deployments, organisations will use wireless as a backup. And this is where 5G comes in.


What is 5G?

5G is a gamechanger for software-defined wide area network services. As the successor to 4G, it provides multi-site organisations (and those with remote users) with increased reliability of connection, rapid provisioning and high-speed bandwidth to keep all users connected, on all devices and in all locations.

The fifth-generation technology is expected to revolutionise wireless connectivity, promising exponentially faster download speeds and data sharing in real time. And with much lower latency than 4G – as well as vastly increased speeds – 5G is set to transform the experience for employees and customers alike.

How does 5G work?

5G is a digital system for transforming bytes of data over air. It uses higher radio frequencies (28GHz compared to 4G’s 700MHz) and other new technologies to increase the amount of transferable data, reduce congestion and lower the latency for a vastly improved connectivity experience. It allows for more devices to be connected within the same geographic area (1 million devices per square kilometre versus 4G’s 4,000), ensuring individual remote users and multi-site organisations always have the speeds and bandwidth they need for data transfers, collaboration tools and video conferencing.

Connecting more devices, faster

Arguably 5G’s biggest differentiating factor is as a gateway to the IoT-connected world at scale. 5G promises to deliver device speeds of around 10 times faster than 4G, making high-quality, ultra-high resolution video calls and conferencing a breeze, and data transfer of less than 20 milliseconds the new normal.

A real-time, fast and reliable network is essential for organisations to be able to deliver flexible and autonomous operations that can drive productivity gains and reduce costs. What’s more, by freeing machines and their users from cabling, 5G has the power to drive innovation, grow partnerships and empower teams to go further.


SD-WAN and 5G for the ultimate connections

Bolder (and perhaps for now, bigger) organisations will seek to pair 5G connectivity with a strong SD-WAN network for the ultimate future-ready solution. The full benefits of an interconnected 5G/SD-WAN infrastructure are only just coming to the fore, but the signs are there for the next big bang in network modernisation. From higher-speed bandwidth capacity and lower costs to streamlined communications across central and IoT devices for enhanced oversight and control, the future of network connectivity is there for the taking.

To speak to our team about our range of connectivity options and to help you choose what is best for your business, get in touch

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