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CSPs ‘not capable enough’ to meet 5G demands of end-users

19 Dec 2018

5G has been talked about in various forms for a number of years now, but it looks like businesses are well and truly ready for it.

According to a new 5G use case and adoption survey from Gartner, 66 percent of organisations have plans to deploy 5G by 2020 – in most cases, to be used for Internet of Things (IoT) communications and video, with the key driver being operational efficiency.

“In terms of 5G adoption, end-user organisations have clear demands and expectations for 5G use cases,” says Gartner senior research director Sylvain Fabre.

“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 organisations.”

Fabre stresses that in order for 5G to be fully exploited, a complete overhaul of network topology is required with new network elements like more data centres closer to the people (edge computing), core network slicing, and radio network densification.

“In the short to medium term, organisations 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,” says Fabre.

As aforementioned, IoT communications is the most popular use case for 5G with 59 percent of organisations expecting 5G-capable networks to be widely used for this exact purpose – nipping on its heels is video with 53 percent.

“The figure for IoT communications is surprising, given that other proven and cost-effective alternatives, such as Narrowband IoT over 4G and low-power wide-area solutions, already exist for wireless IoT connectivity. However, 5G is uniquely positioned to deliver a high density of connected endpoints — up to 1 million sensors per square kilometre,” says Fabre.

“Additionally, 5G will potentially suit other subcategories of IoT that require very low latency. With regard to video, the use cases will be varied. From video analytics to collaboration, 5G’s speed and low latency will be well suited to supporting 4K and 8K HD video content.”

In a rather dire forecast, Gartner believes that by 2022 a staggering 50 percent of CSPs that have completed commercial 5G deployments will actually fail to monetise their back-end technology infrastructure investments due to systems not fully meeting 5G use case demands.

“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,” says Fabre.

The reason? Simply because CSPs’ 5G public networks plans vary substantially in scope and timing. Gartner believes in its initial stages of deployment, the bulk of CSPs will focus on consumer broadband services, which may delay investments in edge computing and core slicing, both of which are far more relevant and advantageous to 5G projects.

In light of this, Gartner recommends technology product managers that are planning 5G infrastructure solutions should focus on 5G networks that provide not only 5G radio but also core slicing and edge computing infrastructure and services for private networks.

“Private networks for enterprises will be the most direct option for businesses that want to benefit from 5G capabilities early on,” says 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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