Those in the field promise that 5G will provide broadband connections at super speeds, up to a hundred times faster than 4G, and will allow autonomous vehicles to run. This will be the beginning of the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution and the development of truly smart cities, in the end. What needs to happen, then, to improve the distribution and adoption of 5G?
“The opportunity for advanced cellular technologies to drive global digital transformation in industry and robotics, automotive, aerospace and defense, smart cities and more is unprecedented,” said Rob Jones, regional director of strategic alliances in the Sea. UK multinational software and services provider PTC. “Advanced cellular capabilities have the potential to fuel the fourth industrial revolution, but only if the ecosystem cooperates to enable 5G technology.”
It is a considerable “if”, given that there are still concerns about the availability and reliability of third-party industries and services, including colocation, big data, cybersecurity and marginal computing, to deliver and implement mass 5G. Indeed, the financial and environmental cost of building the necessary infrastructure is colossal, says Thomas Spencer, telecommunications leader at software company R3.
“Mobile network operators (MNOs) are facing a difficult battle to activate 5G,” he says. “It is estimated that they need to invest up to $ 1 trillion in upgrading their 5G network infrastructure, while already having to manage large networks of antennas, cables and switches just to support their ongoing operations.”
No “big-bang” moment for 5G
There are other complications. The challenge of financing and optimizing the use of infrastructure extends to MNO plans for 5G and, in particular, to the implementation of small cell sites, says Spencer. Next year, in the United States alone, there will be approximately 400,000 small cell sites located on public infrastructure, restaurants, offices and homes. “Determining who owns, operates and finances these sites is a significant and operational challenge,” he added, suggesting that the blockchain could provide a solution.
Richard Carwana, director of Dell UK’s service provider, is equally ambivalent about what needs to happen to enable 5G. “We are still looking at how this will be built,” he said. “It will not be a ‘big bang’ of 5G that some expected, but rather a gradual introduction of services and operators, which are moving into the telecommunications space. Partnership and collaboration will be key to making significant progress and stimulate the implementation of the infrastructure. “
He points out that “5G requires dense fiber optic connectivity to support use cases where 4G and 3G did not need such a thing” and calls on “telecommunications providers, industry leaders and their governments to come together for to understand the requirements and to build solutions for specific use cases “. For example, Carwana notes how the German government is working with telco providers to build new freeways.
Partnership and collaboration will be essential to make significant progress and stimulate implementation
Closer to home, the British government has acknowledged that China’s ban on launching Huawei is likely to delay 5G deployment by at least two years, said Robert Pocknell, an intellectual property partner at Keystone Law in London. “European Union research shows that Huawei is the leader in patents that underpin the implementation of 5G,” he says.
Strong cyber security measures needed to enable 5G development
Politics aside, preparing for cybersecurity is one of the key issues in the advancement of 5G technology. Surprisingly, when achieving the high goals of 5G, it relies on billions of interconnected devices, remote workers and growing cloud infrastructure. “These add to this increasingly demanding infrastructure and network, which is needed to support 5G applications, devices, data and services,” said Martin Rudd, CTO at Telesoft Technologies. “Security, 5G and IoT are closely linked.”
The recent AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report says: 5G speed security highlights the coordinates that stakeholders need to address. “An important aspect is that 76% of respondents expect completely new threats to arise as a result of 5G and increased coverage,” said Theresa Lanowitz, head of communications at AT&T Cybersecurity. “The remaining 24% of participants expect an increase in existing threats.”
Shahzad Nadeem, head of Plextek’s design and engineering smart city development department, agrees and says: “On top of security, there are concerns around data ownership, along with compatibility and interoperability with existing systems.”
Do security and trust issues scare investors?
In addition, erroneous claims that 5G is linked to the spread of coronavirus have further hindered its progress, says Amelia Westerberg, associate strategist at R / GA London. “Conspiracy theorists are the biggest threat to 5G adoption,” she said. “Anti-5G attacks on telecom infrastructure and general national security issues have delayed the launch of 5G in most markets.”
Since mid-September, 300,000 people and organizations in 220 nations have signed Stop 5G on Earth and in Space, and investors may begin to fear. It is a complicated “sale”, first of all, with all the variables. As Nadeem says: Because technology is still evolving and the potential of its value is divided between its various uses in different fields. There are difficulties in justifying the investment decision and their return.
Also in September, it was reported that in Grenoble, the French equivalent of Silicon Valley, Mayor Éric Piolle, a rising star in the Green party, is not looking forward to providing access to 5G, questioning the impact it will have on the environment. , especially if millions of new phones are needed.
Although it is clear that in order to maximize the vast potential of 5G, there is a confluence of modernization technologies, such as multi-stakeholder collaboration and huge investments, could there be more fundamental obstacles to overcome initially? “For people to adapt and trust 5G,” Westerberg concludes, “they need to see it as a positive contribution to culture as well as the economy.”