Sixty-six percent of organizations have plans to deploy 5G by 2020, according to a new 5G use case and adoption survey by Gartner, Inc. Organizations expect 5G networks to be mainly used for Internet of Things (IoT) communications and video, with operational efficiency being the key driver.
“In terms of 5G adoption, end-user organizations have clear demands and expectations for 5G use cases,” says 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.”
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,” adds Fabre.
IoT communications remains the most popular target use case for 5G, with 59% of the organizations surveyed expecting 5G-capable networks to be widely used for this purpose. The next most popular use case is video, which was chosen by 53% of the respondents.
“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,” says Fabre. “However, 5G is uniquely positioned to deliver a high density of connected endpoints — up to one million sensors per square kilometer. 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.”
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,” says Fabre.
He adds 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,” 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.”
The accompanying graphic is courtesy of Arthur D. Little