Chevron Corp. disclosed plans in September to add predictive maintenance in its oil fields and refineries by arming thousands of pieces of equipment with sensors by 2024 that will predict when equipment in the field will need to be serviced.\u00a0\u00a0\nThe forward-looking move comes as sensors become less expensive, the Internet of Things continues to connect devices wirelessly to cloud-based platforms that can quickly analyze data, and as predictive analytics promises to create competitive advantage.\n\nBut when it comes to Chevron\u2019s plans for upgrading to fifth-generation or 5G networking, which has the potential to move the equipment\u2019s data exponentially faster, with lower latency, and the bandwidth to connect a million devices per square kilometer vs. 4G\u2019s roughly 1,000 devices per kilometer \u2014 Chevron is curious, but not ready to commit just yet.\n\u201cChevron is always investigating new technologies, including 5G, but our current needs are fully met with 4G and other networking technologies,\u201d said a Chevron spokesperson for its technology and midstream groups. \u201cAs 5G networking matures and comes down in cost, we will consider it for areas that require 5G capabilities.\u201d\u00a0\nIt\u2019s a familiar refrain from many companies that don\u2019t know much about 5G or what it will be able to do for the enterprise. When wireless technology provider Ericsson asked 1,000 C-level executives in 10 industries about barriers to adopting 5G in late 2017, 62 percent cited that it was \u201ctoo soon to know what the real benefits will be.\u201d Other top concerns included data security and privacy, lack of standards and the challenges of end-to-end integration.\n\n\n\n\n\nThose sentiments haven\u2019t changed much almost a year later, except that product standards that allow manufacturers to start developing compatible handsets, chip sets and networking equipment were finalized in December 2017 and June 2018.\nThere\u2019s plenty of hype around 5G and its promise to revolutionize driverless cars, virtual reality and entertainment, but what\u2019s less clear is how it will enable business-transforming innovation for the typical enterprise.\n5G network trials\nSo far, 5G providers have been touting trials that prove the technology\u2019s performance, such as AT&T\u2019s first data transfer over millimeter wave using standards-based, production equipment in September, and Verizon\u2019s breakthrough with Nokia handing off a signal seamlessly to a vehicle traveling between two radio sectors in August.\u00a0 They remain tight-lipped, however, about trials they\u2019re working on with enterprise customers that could demonstrate 5G\u2019s benefits for enterprises. Instead, many wireless providers are looking for enterprises to come to them with their wireless wish lists and pain points, so that they can develop tailored 5G use cases.\nWill 5G really be a game-changer for enterprises, and if so, when? Networking analysts, consultants and wireless providers lay out the facts about 5G today, and they offer advice on what enterprises should do to prepare.\n5G today: What to expect\nVerizon and AT&T have announced plans to roll out 5G in 16 cities, collectively, by year\u2019s end, but those rollouts come with caveats.\u00a0 AT&T will initially offer 5G hotspots or \u201cpucks,\u201d in 12 cities, but only in parts of the cities with the highest network demand and coverage needs. Pucks will also be available for consumers to purchase in stores by year\u2019s end.\nAT&T\u2019s rollout cities include Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, and San Antonio, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, and Waco, Texas.\nVerizon will offer fixed wireless 5G by year\u2019s end in four cities, Los Angeles, Houston, Sacramento and Indianapolis, but only in homes. The company has not announced a timeline for mobile 5G availability.\nWhen it comes to mobility, compatible mobile phones and other wireless devices that can take full advantage of 5G are not yet available for sale. Specification standards for chip sets and devices were finalized in June, and vendors like Qualcomm, Intel and LSI are still coding and developing software for infrastructure network equipment. A normal cycle from standards approval to device completion is about 12 months, says Ed Chan, Verizon senior VP and chief technical architect.\n\u201cEarly deployments are going to be 5G in name, but they\u2019re still going to rely on 4G LTE back-end network architecture,\u201d says Jason Leigh, senior research analyst at IDC.\u00a0 \u201cThe full end-to-end 5G communications and networking probably won\u2019t hit the market until 2020.\u201d That will be the key to real enterprise use, he adds. \u201cFor things like network slicing,\u201d where 5G is deployed only to a part of the network for a particular application, \u201cyou have to do that on the network management side, so realizing that part of 5G will be in the post-2020 era.\u201d\nHow 5G might reshape enterprise operations\nEnterprises located in one of the first 16 rollout cities may be able to benefit from the speed and availability of 5G in the new year.\n\u201cRetailers, for example, could use 5G services in areas where it\u2019s been launched to seamlessly pop up stores,\u201d says Gordon Mansfield, AT&T\u2019s vice president of converged access & device technology. \u201cAll the connectivity that you typically only have in brick and mortar is now available from a mobile perspective,\u201d he says. Smart cities that have video cameras in place for security monitoring could take advantage of 5G\u2019s low latency in coverage areas to speed video transmission and analysis of activities on city streets, he adds.\nAs commercial 5G networks and devices becomes available, developers expect more widespread use for everything from factory automation, to monitoring and tracking farm equipment to remote-controlled machinery in mines. Verizon is working with healthcare organizations to explore 5G\u2019s benefits for remote care, and it\u2019s looking into how 5G could help manage import\/export containers at sea ports. Accenture is exploring how 5G can enhance training programs using virtual reality and augmented reality in aeronautics, next-generation factories and equipment manufacturers.\nOverall, industries with fewer regulations will have faster entry into 5G than heavily regulated sectors, says Jefferson Wang, managing director of communications, media and technology, at Accenture Strategy. For carriers and network providers, understanding the complexity of each vertical market\u2019s wireless and networking requirements will be important, he says. \u201cSolving problems for healthcare is a much different solution than solving for transportation logistics. We have to build the ecosystems, create agility and understand the right business models to make this work.\u201d\u00a0\nAccenture launched 5G Acceleration Services in September to help communications service providers, network operators, device manufacturers and non-traditional mobile network operators develop use cases, devices and network deployment approaches for specific industries.\nFor that reason, wireless providers right now are relying on guidance from enterprises themselves \u2014 through confidential trials or innovation storefronts. Verizon opened a 5G-enabled lab in New York\u2019s Silicon Alley in December where startups and academics uncover new use cases and prototypes. Verizon also invited enterprises to come in and play with 5G applications.\nWhat will 5G cost?\nNo one is talking price yet, but rather in network currencies that will vary by industry, such as peak data rates, the user experience data rates, latency that can be changed drastically, speed, density of the network and battery life. Providers \u201chave to be flexible enough to support a customer paying for latency or paying for a million connections on one account,\u201d Wang says.\nMeanwhile, there are steps enterprises can take now to prepare for 5G\u2019s arrival.\nCompanies that are contemplating 5G should first examine their organization\u2019s mission and goals, experts say. \u201cStart thinking, what if you\u2019re not tethered down by all the wires as you automate a process? What would you do with that? That\u2019s where we\u2019re having a lot of conversations with enterprises today,\u201d Chan says.\n\u201cThey really should start to build an understanding of what 5G enables,\u201d Mansfield says. \u201cPeople often think about the bandwidth available, but it\u2019s also about the latency.\u201d Next, companies should engage in discussions with providers on how they can deliver those capabilities, he says.\n\u201cWhen you understand your strengths, then we can determine where you want to be in 5G,\u201d Wang says. A 5G plan should include near-term, mid-term, long-term development goals as new use cases are discovered and devices and equipment become available, he adds.\n\u201cWe see 2019 as a year when the industry will really come together with a robust ecosystem, pairing up the right vertical, with the right network operator with the right equipment provider, and the right guidance,\u201d Wang says, where a wait-and-see attitude will evolve into real enterprise partnerships.\u00a0\n\n4G vs. 5G: HOW IT WORKS\nCurrent networks use low- and medium-band spectrum that can travel long distances and penetrate buildings. 5G networks will also use millimeter-wave spectrum that can carry huge amounts of data but don\u2019t travel far, so network builders need to place many small cells close together to use this spectrum.\n5G networks will include all of these spectrums and a mix of traditional cell-phone towers and antennas on rooftops that carry signals over long distances, plus a series of small cells at lower heights for shorter distances. That combination, along with advances in radio technology, will help carriers reduce latency and support billions of devices and high-speed data.