5G’s potential won’t be fully realised in 2019
Estimates predict that there will be 1 billion 5G users worldwide by 2023. The potential impact of 5G technology has been well discussed in recent years, writes Caroline Puygrenier, the director of strategy and business development for connectivity at Interxion. The technology has the potential to dramatically improve data speeds, increase network bandwidth and reduce latency, transforming every industry from manufacturing and marketing to communications and entertainment.
However, despite the first deployments of 5G and the launch of the first 5G-compatible devices expected this year, we don’t anticipate the impact of widespread 5G implementation to be fully felt in 2019. Instead, this year will be more of starting point for change as businesses continue to invest in rearchitecting existing networks and infrastructure ready to host 5G networks.
There’s been a lot of hype around 5G network testing. Although the technology has been proven on a trial basis, much more investment is required before it can be rolled out en masse. The problem is that many operators are still trying to claw back return from the significant investments they put into 4G. Another roadblock is that, although 5G is expected to unlock a plethora of new applications, there currently isn’t a “killer application” that can’t run on the existing network. This means that the need for 5G isn’t necessary straight away. With this mind, this year we’ll see the majority of operators focus their efforts on integrating 5G into their existing 4G and even 3G networks to maximise the value of their existing infrastructure, rather than deploying 5G on its own.
Security also remains a concern. Many 5G use cases will be driven by the IoT and will support devices and mission-critical applications in an increasing number of vertical sectors, including connected manufacturing, healthcare and automotive. The security challenges associated with the new standard will need to be ironed out ahead of wide scale roll out. As a result, a heavy focus for this year will be ensuring that networks that will host 5G are robust and secure.
There’s no doubt that 2019 is going to be a big year for 5G; the technology has already been the talk of the town at CES and is expected to also feature heavily in discussions at next month’s Mobile World Congress. However, it’s important to remember we’re still in the early stages of transition to this new technology and, despite the hype, we won’t feel its effect this year.