Enterprise expectations of what 5G can deliver are moving into a new phase, away from just better connectivity and towards improved business outcomes, according to a senior analyst.
Camille Mendler, Chief Analyst with independent research firm Omdia, has been tracking attitudes to 5G, and other significant new technologies, to see how perceptions of them are changing among business leaders.
“Every year we survey about four and a half thousand enterprises around the world about their investment priorities,” said Mendler. “We look at what’s keeping them up at night, and what innovations they have planned. In the past 12 months there has been a change in perception of what 5G can do for them. Expectations have changed fundamentally.”
A year ago, she explained, enterprises were at the stage of hoping that 5G would make them less dependent on their fixed network, would give them lower latency, would support their applications better: “These were reasonable if pedestrian expectations,” she said. “Now a year on it’s not technology outcomes they are thinking about but business outcomes. Number one on their list is the delivery of better business insights to enable faster decision making. They want to improve the productivity of their remote and field workers. They want to accelerate the automation of processes. 5G for them is now about solutions and outcomes, not feeds and speeds. It’s not 4G with ‘go faster’ stripes. It’s about what kind of business you can run when latency is near zero.”
Mendler has also noted a rise in the importance of Private 5G, with many enterprises choosing to build and maintain their own 5G networks so that they can use them in fields such as IoT. A private 5G network is one that does not share traffic with other mobile networks in the vicinity, so is not in contention with consumer users.
The adoption of private 5G networks is starting to pick up pace as regulators start to allocate more 5G spectrum for enterprise use. A number of vertical sectors have already taken advantage, such as manufacturing where private 5G capabilities are behind the applications driving smart factories and smart logistics networks.
In the consumer sector, 5G has sometimes struggled to fulfil the promises made for it at launch, such as the ability to deliver super-fast connectivity, vast bandwidth, high data rates, ultra-low latency, high security, reliability and scalability to accommodate enormous volumes of IoT-connected sensors and devices.