Businesses Should Start Having A 5G Strategy
Enterprises are overwhelmingly optimistic about the 5G business outlook and are moving forward aggressively with deployment plans.
5G, or the fifth-generation of wireless systems, which was considered a ‘hype’ until recently, is fast becoming a reality today. Many countries across the world – including India – are already investing or are planning huge investments in 5G in order to gain from its high-speed network and reliability. A recent research by tech analyst firm 451 Research and Vertiv, that polls over 100 global telecom decision makers with visibility into 5G strategies and plans, shows that enterprises were overwhelmingly optimistic about the 5G business outlook and are moving forward aggressively with deployment plans.
5G is poised to be at least 10 times faster than 4G, and several times more responsive than its predecessor. Further, 5G is expected to connect 100 times more devices than 4G did, giving rise to a deluge of IoT-enabled gadgets and devices. However, decision makers in technology need to upgrade their skill-sets in order to ready themselves for an ultra-fast future.
The reason for optimism among businesses is that they could benefit from more real-time online interactions with customers, have seamless video conferences with staff, and have a more connected and efficient network for real-time interactions and run complex applications effortlessly.
Service providers are also upbeat, as 12% of operators expect to roll out 5G services in 2019, and an additional 86% expect to be delivering 5G services by 2021, according to the study. Chipmakers like Qualcomm and MediaTek have already announced the availability of 5G-enabled handsets this year. In the US, service providers like AT&T and Verizon have started deploying 5G networks. Ericsson has already announced several deals with global customers. Back home in India too, the government is determined to make a nationwide 5G rollout possible.
According to the survey, most of those initial services will focus on supporting existing data services. About one-third of respondents expect to support existing enterprise services with 18% saying they expect to deliver new enterprise services.
As networks continue to evolve and coverage expands, 5G itself will become a key enabler of emerging edge use cases that require high-bandwidth, low latency data transmission, such as virtual and augmented reality, digital healthcare, and smart homes, buildings, factories and cities.
However, illustrating the scale of the challenge, near 68% telcos in the survey said, they do not expect to achieve total 5G coverage until 2028 or later. 28% expect to have total coverage by 2027 while only 4% expect to have total coverage by 2025.
“5G presents a huge opportunity for India, further revolutionizing the app and content ecosystem in the country. The world over, telcos have recognized this potential, while also understanding the network transformation required to support these services,” said Girish Oberoi, General Manager of Telecom Strategic Account Management for Vertiv in India.
To support 5G services, telcos are ramping up the deployment of Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) sites, which bring the capabilities of the cloud directly to the radio access network. 37% of respondents said they are already deploying MEC infrastructure ahead of 5G deployments while an additional 47% intend to deploy MECs, the report said.
As these new computing locations supporting 5G come online, the ability to remotely monitor and manage increasingly dense networks becomes more critical to maintaining profitability. In the area of remote management, Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) was identified as the most important enabler, followed by energy management. Remote management will be critical, as the report suggests the network densification required for 5G could require operators to double the number of radio access locations around the globe in the next 10-15 years.
In fact, telcos are also increasing network energy consumption. The study shows AC to DC conversions will be an area of emphasis. Besides, new cooling techniques will see the biggest jump in adoption over the next five years. Currently being used by 43% of telcos worldwide, this number is expected to increase to 73% in five years.
Upgrades from VRLA to lithium-ion batteries also show significant growth. Currently, 66% of telcos are upgrading their batteries. Five years from now, that number is projected to jump to 81%.
Despite the readiness, a Gartner report released in 2018 there is still a lack of readiness among telcos and communications service providers (CSPs). Researchers believe, to fully exploit 5G, a new network topology is required, including new network elements, such as edge computing, core network slicing and radio network densification.