The Road to 5G – Key Trends and Highlights

The Road to 5G – Key Trends and Highlights

Wait, but what is 5G anyway?

Nowadays, when it comes to telecommunications, the favorite topic to talk about is the advent of 5G and its far-reaching effects on the various technologies that are dependent on mobile networks: IoT, social networking, high fidelity communications, virtual reality etc. To be honest, this evolution will radically change the way we communicate with each other and our devices. However, to really understand the extent to which 5G will change the face of mobile telecommunications, we need to have a broad understanding of what 5G really is.

5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks. There are a few parameters on which new generations of networks vastly differ from the old ones. They are:

  • Data Speed
  • Latency
  • Capacity
  • Availability

There are a host of other technical parameters on which each generation differs, but at the end of the day, we are really looking at these 4 parameters, which are informed by those technical parameters. And on all these parameters, 5G blows the other generations out of the water!

According to Qualcomm’s explanation of 5G, it is significantly faster than 4G, with speeds that can reach upto 20 Gigabit per second at its peak, it has significantly lower latency than 4G (almost 10x decrease in latency), which helps to deliver access much closer to real-time, it has orders of magnitude (2 orders of magnitude) better capacity and can utilize spectrums much more efficiently, throughout all spectrum paradigms (low band, mid band and millimeter wave band).

The benefits offered by 5G are fueling the global desire for a shift towards it. With the ongoing pandemic of Coronavirus disease and spread of Covid, the need for better means of communication has become a priority for many. Most countries have realized that now is the best time to seriously put in efforts to move towards 5G. This is evident in the number of countries who have already started initiatives to steer and drive the shift towards 5G. As of June 2020, 5G was available in 20 countries already. The major adopters in this entire set of countries are United States and China. What we are seeing when it comes to these two countries is the beginnings of a race, with the goal being which nation will be the driver of 5G innovations and owner of the most significant intellectual property when it comes to 5G. Key analysts believe that government push will play a decisive factor in the rate of adoption and innovation for 5G.

Key Drivers for 5G Adoption and Deployment

The drivers for the adoption and deployment of 5G are many and, in the current circumstances (Covid, Lockdowns, Shift to Remote Working), the arguments in favor of rapid 5G adoption have only increased.

Here are some of the key drivers for 5G adoption, especially from a corporate point of view:

  1. Key Benefits of 5G technology
    As we discussed in preceding paragraphs, 5G offers many key advantages in terms of more efficient and better-quality technology, which can give corporates a competitive edge in their respective industry and most organizations realize and acknowledge that. In a recent report released by Deloitte, around 86% of the survey networking executives believe that advanced telecommunications technology will offer their organization a key competitive advantage and will essentially transform their organization and industry. As the 4G changed the landscape with better cloud platforms and enterprise mobile networks, 5G can also offer many key advantages and values.

  2. COVID 19 and its impact
    The pandemic has really affected the way business is being conducted at a level hitherto unseen. Now, more than ever, there is a need for high fidelity, high efficiency and secure means of connecting with people. Remote working, online learning, automation, customer connect and virtual employee interactions are poised to increase the demand for 5G manifold. Most telecom providers are realizing the benefits, with key players like Verizon, AT&T and Microsoft pushing for 5G adoption.  Many issues that are being felt in the Covid situation can be easily remedied with 5G in areas like workflow optimization, supply chain management, sourcing, tracking and other key business activities. These are just some areas where 5G can help. These benefits can be felt across all industries.

  3. Strategic Necessities
    According to the report released by Deloitte, there is a realization across all industries that there is a need for 5G as they believe that 5G adoption will have these benefits:
    • Improves efficiencies across the organization
    • Improves security
    • Gives more options to innovate on current products and services
    • Opens the road for disruptive innovations in the form of new services and products specially in the fields of AI, Automation, Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics and VR/AR
    • Will pave the way towards optimization of both internal and external communications.

Updates on 5G Adoption in the US

Big telecommunication companies like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have already started to provide 5G offerings in various parts of the US. Currently, these services are at a very early stage and offer a fraction of the benefits offered by 5G. T-Mobile has launched a nationwide 5G network with limited capabilities offering only a marginal boost from 4G. Verizon has taken a different approach towards this, by offering highly capable 5G services in a limited number of areas.

With the impact of COVID-19, the demand has gone significantly higher than what was anticipated, and companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are continuously researching ways forward for 5G adoption. Jim Greer, the Assistant VP for Communications at AT&T said in a recent interview that the company remains optimistic about the business scenario and is monitoring the bandwidth usage in areas which were most impacted by coronavirus.

US Governmental Push for 5G

There is an impetus from the government for 5G adoption. The third auction for the 5G Fast Plan to accelerate deployment of high-speed broadband in rural America was held in late 2019. In a recent article by CNBC, it was reported that the US Government is going to pay around $10 Billion to providers in order to speed up the auction of the 5G C-spectrum by 2023.

Recently, the White House also intervened in the conversation. White House had planned a meeting with major non-Chinese mobile manufacturers to strategize on how to tackle the Chinese networking company Huawei. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration recently released a request for comment, inviting companies to support White House’s initiative to secure 5G technology by coming up with an Implementation Plan for the National Strategy to Secure 5G. Many companies responded to it, with plans outlining the steps towards a more secure 5G development in the US.

The Path Ahead

In the modern times, with more and more people realizing the need for hyper-connectivity and with the advent of Covid, 5G technology finds itself at the precipice of ushering in a technological revolution, affecting every person and device connected to the network. The potential for transformation extends to all industries and even national governments are now entering the conversation, with a higher push towards 5G. Most industries are now looking at ways they can utilize the widespread adoption of 5G, with better products and more innovative or even disruptive innovations. All these factors indicate that 5G adoption is inevitable. What remains to be seen is that which country will lead the race towards 5G and its resulting technological edge.

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