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Infrastructure and Operations

Enterprises Impatient for 5G Gains

Enterprises have big expectations for 5G’s IoT promise, but most service providers aren’t nearly ready to meet enterprise needs

Enterprises have big expectations for 5G to improve their business prospects in the future, but most wireless network providers and their vendors are still not completely prepared to roll out fifth-generation LTE technology. A survey released today indicates that 5G promises to deliver a big boost in IoT possibilities for enterprises, but that wireless providers need to tackle a number of technical challenges before making good on those expectations.

In conducting the survey among a range of mobility experts, Infovista found that two-thirds of enterprises believe 5G will be extremely important to their future. The four top use cases cited by enterprises surveyed revolved around IoT: collecting data from IoT devices, enabling sensors across the enterprise, improving smart home applications, and supporting industrial IoT (IIoT).

This lines up with what business leaders have been saying about the prospects of 5G, which enables many transformative digital use cases at the edge with its ubiquitous speed. Experts say that 5G stands to offer 100x faster speeds than current 4G wireless connections, and will outpace the performance of most of today’s home cable internet connections.

However, many wireless communications providers are not close to offering the kind of 5G services that enterprises seek.

“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.”

Today’s report from Infovista backed up that observation, stating that only 25% of wireless providers report they’re extremely prepared for 5G. In examining the main concerns of stakeholders at these provider organizations, the study showed that they’re most focused now on making sure 5G networks work correctly, but they’re balancing that with concerns about keeping costs within reason without slowing down so much they’re late to the market.

Gartner predicts that many of them will be unable to successfully carry out the balancing act and that by 2022 about half of communication service providers will have rolled out commercial 5G deployments that don’t monetize their infrastructure investments.

A big reason for that is because they won’t be meeting enterprise needs with their technical deployments. Fabre says the focus is on deploying consumer broadband services that emphasize perfection of 5G radio first, with providers not truly tackling core slicing and edge computing until after initial rollouts. This was corroborated by today’s survey, which showed the number one challenge service providers are facing with 5G is planning and optimizing their radio access network.

Consequently, Gartner believes that most true enterprise-ready 5G deployments may not see the light of day until the second half of the next decade.This may mean that enterprises will need to turn to private networks for early 5G deployments. Which may actually stand to change the texture of the communications market.

“These networks may be offered not only by communication service providers 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,” Fabre said.

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