Next Generation Networks: The Promise of 5G

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Is 5G the transformative network technology that will revolutionise every industry it touches? We assess the current state of 5G development and ask whether the reality will match the hype

Interview: Harry Chima, Head of CIO Advisory, Infosys Consulting

Harry is an executive level consulting leader with over eighteen years of experience of advising and delivering to senior business and technology leadership in the UK, North America and the Middle East. His core interest is in delivering quantifiable business value through IT transformation.

How will 5G change the way we live our lives, both at home and in the workplace?

The advent of 5G services promises much faster mobile communications, with ten times the speeds of existing 4G services. We’re told that everyone stands to benefit – from consumers who will be able to download an HD film in seconds, to urban planners who can use 5G to provision the services that will power the ‘smart city’ of the future.

 What sort of potential does 5G promise for the way companies can operate?

5G will one day completely transform the way that companies do business. With latency slashed from 50 milliseconds to under one millisecond, it will provide the backbone for a new generation of services which require much higher speeds and device density than is currently offered on 4G. As the number of connected devices skyrockets, 5G will be crucial for everything from mobile AR/VR, to faster transactions for financial services, to changing the way that manufacturers produce and distribute their products.

Beyond the security challenges, what other challenges will companies face around embracing 5G technology? How can those challenges be tackled?

For businesses, the coming of 5G is an expensive headache. From the service providers who must invest hundreds of millions in upgrading their networks before they can earn any revenue from new superfast services, to the CIO who is tasked with developing a corporate 5G strategy. 5G is painted as a panacea for a range of business problems, but in reality, the real-world use cases remain few and far between. Many of the promised applications for 5G are still in embryo, and the same is true for most of the corporate use cases for 5G.

 This makes life very hard for the CIO, who must somehow put together a 5G action plan without truly knowing what problems they need to overcome, what new capabilities they want to provision, and how 5G will affect wider corporate strategy. The best way for a CIO to build the case for investment – or, indeed, for holding fire on that investment – is to work with other strategic decision-makers in the business to work out the potential use cases for 5G. Only the CIO has the knowledge and experience to show others how to achieve the corporate vision, and whether 5G is the answer.

What is the timetable for full implementation of 5G? Are there any potential roadblocks that might slow down implementation?

We will have to wait a few years for 5G in the UK, perhaps even until 2022. Also, we will have to wait longer for people to invent the new services that run on 5G. Speed is often essential when a new technology arrives on the scene, with early adopters stealing a march on their competitors by bringing new services to market faster. However, that’s not necessarily the case with 5G: there must be a need for speed before a business commits to such a major decision.

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