While the majority of mobile network service providers around the globe are busy with their 4G LTE deployments, forward-looking vendors are already positioning the fifth-generation (5G) technologies. In the past, cellular wireless networks were viewed primarily as voice communication and mobile internet access enablers. Today, that vision is evolving.
451 Research believes that 5G will have a catalytic effect on a wide range of IT technology and services, impacting almost all parts of industry and society far beyond mobile technologies and business models.
451 recommends that any IT supplier that is touched by the mobile ecosystem, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing services, consumer electronics or automation needs to assess the coming impact of 5G technologies.
"IT players need to think about IoT now and 5G soon," said Ken Rehbehn, principal analyst, mobile telecom, at 451 Research. "Whether it is real-time analytics, data center design, location-based Web services, or social networks and digital currencies, 5G will affect demand patterns as early as 2018."
Market Development Agenda for 5G Services
This 'Foresight' project takes a holistic view of the far reaching consequences to help IT companies prepare their strategies. Here are select findings from 451 Research's Foresight report:
5G is not just another G – it will trigger a wave of innovation to make information and computing power instantaneously available.
5G innovations will spread far and wide – innovation is needed in mobile technology, real-time analytics, edge-of-network data centers, and new applications and services such as semi-autonomous vehicles, augmented reality and IoT.
5G implementation will be very patchy – deployment will depend on players seeking to leapfrog others; local demand for capabilities not possible on 3G/4G; government intervention; investment; the effectiveness of new technologies at scale; and new business cases involving collaboration of multiple players.
Uncertainty – not all the 5G technologies are proven, especially at scale. Nor is it clear that capabilities such as sub-one-millisecond responses will justify the investment. Areas requiring particular investment are low-latency services, low-power devices and networks, and the ability to support huge numbers of devices.
Governments and operators have differing ambitions for 5G – while many governments, especially in Europe, want to get ahead in 5G and digital living, network operators are concerned with shareholder returns. This conflict could lead to the creation of private-public partnerships to raise financing.
The X factor – competitive technologies could yet wreck the economics. For example, technologies such as LoRA or Weightless-N could emerge as options for low-bandwidth edge computing for IoT, taking a major driver for 5G off the table.