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One year on, 41% of telecoms professionals are happy with 5G

Forty-one percent of those answering a Telecoms.com survey said the new technology has either met or exceeded their expectations.

Telecoms.com Intelligence recently completed an industry survey to gauge the views of those in the telecoms ecosystem on how well commercial 5G has done in its first year. Well over 300 industry professionals responded to the survey that, in addition to the 5G landscape, focused on 5G’s new technologies, security priorities, and expectations for the next steps.

On top of the happy ones, one third of respondents, primarily from the markets where 5G is yet to launch, understandably said they could not yet tell whether they are satisfied or not. The good news is over half of respondents expected to see 5G broadly deployed in their markets by 2023.

The respondents recognised that while high-speed internet access has attracted most consumer attention, the real value for 5G operators lies in the advanced services they can provide to support business use cases.

“With 5G enabling highly anticipated advances in ‘smart’ technologies, it’s no surprise respondents believe that industry will see significant value. Smart cities will manage transportation, lighting, waste, electric grids and many other essential functions via the 5G network,” commented IEEE, an industry organisation and standardisation body. “Smart factories will improve their energy and waste management to reduce their environmental impact, while implementing more advanced inventory tracking methods to prevent stock-outs.”

To achieve the high throughput, high capacity, and low latency needed to support the industrial use cases, for example manufacturing automation, 5G needs to be upgraded from what we have seen in the first year. On the radio part, 5G on mmWave is needed to deliver the speed, while the standalone mode on 5G core, instead of the LTE core the first phase 5G is based on, is critical to enable the more advanced use cases.

“This is an exciting time for 5G across the wireless industry and for the world. In addition to smartphones, tablets and customer premise devices, more than half believe we’ll see IoT devices increasing rapidly become part of the 5G ecosystem,” said Phil Sorsky, SVP, Sales Service Provider International, CommScope. “Advancing antenna design, tapping into open RAN interfaces and enhanced IoT management are just a few ways that operators can simplify 5G rollouts while growing their enterprise business.”

Security concerns do not start with and are not unique to 5G, but arguably security risks are heightened with the telecom networks becoming more and more like IT networks, with the migration to cloud native, the advancement in virtualisation, and the increasingly central role software plays.

“5G security is among the biggest challenges to the success of 5G for mobile operators,” said Benoit Jouffrey, CTO, Thales Digital Identity Solutions. “In this context, creating a chain of trust in 5G networks – from the core to the edge, leveraging strong anchors on both sides like tamper-resistant components and HSMs (hardware security modules), is paramount.”

Meanwhile, about a quarter of survey participants felt underwhelmed by 5G’s performance. The main reason looks to be the gap between what has been promised and what has been delivered. For example, despite all the talk of downloading an HD film in seconds, in real life, we are getting nowhere close to the gigabit per second speed. On the B2B front, we are yet to see large-scale rollout of standalone mode 5G networks to enable advanced industrial use cases. The discrepancy between what customers are told and what they get so far has made the industry professionals a bit uneasy. Over half of the survey participants believed the failure to deliver on 5G’s high promises would be their biggest worry.

The survey report can be downloaded for free here.

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