Research suggests 5G will have a huge impact on just about any business, but barriers remain to its development and deployment
The advent of 5G will and the technologies it can support will impact the entire IT industry and wider society, according to a new report, but a number of barriers could yet hinder its development.
A study by 451 research says almost any business with a passing interest in mobile Internet, the Internet of things (IoT), cloud services, consumer electronics or automation needs to start thinking about 5G and its potential impact.
5G is still being standardised and there is much debate about how the final specification will look like. There are a number of projects around the world working on candidate technologies and it is believed the standard could be finalised later this year.
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How 5G will impact IT
There is a general consensus that next generation networks will offer faster speeds, low latency, more efficient energy use and higher capacity – characteristics that can help support the expected growth in IoT applications.
“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, datacentre design, location-based Web services, or social networks and digital currencies, 5G will affect demand patterns as early as 2018.”
The study agrees with the view that 5G isn’t just an incremental update but an advance that could lay the foundation of mobile networks for decades to come. It predicts huge advances in real time networks, edge of network data centres, more available computing power and new applications and services such as autonomous vehicles, IoT and augmented reality. However 451 Research is warning of potential problems.
It says that not all 5G technologies are yet proven, especially at scale, and it is unclear whether features such as sub-millisecond latency will justify the investment. Researchers think development should focus on low latency, power use and scale testing. There are also concerns an alternative technology, such as Weightless-N, could become more popular for IoT.
The study also claims innovation and rollout will be fuelled by competition between operators and the emergence of new applications that drive adoption. However it also fears that networks might not want to invest in 5G at the same rate as governments, who are advocating development, leading to the possibility that public-private partnerships could be a compromise.
It is widely expected that the first commercial 5G networks will go live in 2020, with Ericsson predicting there will be 150 million 5G subscriptions by 2021.
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