The Connected Future | 5G Deployment Trends
Dr. Evangelo Damigos; PhD | Head of Digital Futures Research Desk
- Connected Intelligence
- Sustainable Growth and Tech Trends
Publication | Update: Sep 2020
Already, manufacturers including Nokia, Samsung, and Cisco have either started developing 5G enterprise solutions or have announced plans to do so.
In the enterprise, full deployment of private 5G networks will take time, as it requires significant investments to upgrade legacy network infrastructures, observers say. In the meantime, there are instances of devices in the workplace already operating on a 5G network.
As Gartner noted, 5G is five to 10 years away from the Plateau of Productivity, a phase in the hype cycle in which the real-world benefits of a technology are demonstrated and accepted, and the rapid growth phase of adoption begins. Again, five to 10 years away.
“By 2023, 5G coverage will be as widespread as 4G or Long Term Evolution (LTE)” are today, Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner said.
"The user expectations and the vendor marketing create a huge delta from what the actual availability of product is," he said. "5G's going to come; it's going to be here. It's not going to be here as fast as everybody says."
5G hype needs viable use cases
Some 5G use cases have emerged, and some will be adopted faster than others. Fixed wireless connections, for example, is an early use case that comprises wireless systems and devices in fixed locations, such as offices and homes. Additionally, 5G will be available initially in some small target markets, especially for testing purposes.
Much has also been written and explored concerning the marriage of 5G and IoT. The two technologies could converge to establish a high-speed network infrastructure that includes faster connectivity among IoT devices, lower latency and reduced power consumption. 5G and IoT could also support the development of autonomous and connected vehicles.
Fueling the 5G hype even further, some industry observers have mused that 5G could usurp older Wi-Fi, wireless and WAN connectivity options. While those prophecies may prove to be true someday, they won't be true for the next four or five years, Lerner said. Dense, global 5G coverage, even in populated areas, is several years away, he added.
According to the Gartner Hype Cycle report, the International Telecommunication Union and other standards bodies are expected to ratify full 5G technical standards by 2020. In a separate Gartner report, the analyst firm forecast worldwide 5G wireless network infrastructure revenue will reach $ 4.2 billion in 2020, an 89% increase from 2019 revenue of .2 billion.
Gartner predicts that 66% of organizations will take advantage of these benefits and adopt 5G by 2020 — with 59% of them planning to use 5G to support the Internet of Things across their business.
Sixty-six percent of organizations have plans to deploy 5G by 2020, according to a new 5G use case and adoption survey by Gartner. Organizations expect 5G networks to be mainly used for Internet of Things (IoT) communications and video, with operational efficiency being the key driver.
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. “In the short to medium term, organizations wanting to leverage 5G for use cases such as IoT communications, video, control and automation, fixed wireless access and high-performance edge analytics cannot fully rely on 5G public infrastructure for delivery,” added Mr. Fabre.
“In terms of 5G adoption, end-user organizations have clear demands and expectations for 5G use cases,” said Sylvain Fabre, senior research director at Gartner. “However, one major issue that 5G users face is the lack of readiness of Communications Service Providers (CSPS). Their 5G networks are not available or capable enough for the needs of organizations.”
Gartner predicts that, by 2022, half of the CSPs that have completed commercial 5G deployments will fail to monetize their back-end technology infrastructure investments, due to systems not fully meeting 5G use case requirements. “Most CSPs will only achieve a complete end-to-end 5G infrastructure on their public networks during the 2025-to-2030 time frame — as they focus on 5G radio first, then core slicing and edge computing,” said Mr. Fabre.
Mr. Fabre added that this is because CSPs’ 5G public networks plans vary significantly in timing and scope. CSPs will initially focus on consumer broadband services, which may delay investments in edge computing and core slicing, which are much more relevant and valuable to 5G projects.
Gartner advises that, to meet the demands of businesses, technology product managers planning 5G infrastructure solutions should focus on 5G networks that offer not only 5G radio but also core slicing and edge computing infrastructure and services for private networks. CSPs alone may not fully satisfy the short-to-midterm demands of organizations that are keen to deploy 5G quickly.
“Private networks for enterprises will be the most direct option for businesses that want to benefit from 5G capabilities early on,” said Mr. Fabre. “These networks may be offered not only by CSPs but also directly by infrastructure vendors — and not just by the traditional large vendors of infrastructure, but also by suppliers with cloud and software backgrounds.”
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