Will 2021 finally be the year of 5G innovation? Neena Sharma examines the evidence
2021 is looking to be a good year for 5G. While we have been talking about this burgeoning technology for a while now, in reality, the commercial launch of 5G Stand Alone (5G SA) started only towards the end of 2020, led by a few pioneering Tier 1 Communications Service Providers (CSPs).
It turns out that 5G SA is what we needed to bridge the gap between people’s expectations and the realities of 5G, and to bring the innovative technological advances forward, ranging from the ‘Internet of Things’ to remote medical care and industrial robotics.
Before this, 5G Non Stand Alone (5G NSA) led to incremental improvements in faster mobile connectivity, but did not lead to any revolutionary changes in the way we connect with each other. But with many more CSPs looking to launch 5G SA this year, 2021 crackles with exciting 5G possibilities.
Is your business mobile or fixed?
During the pandemic, mobility has gained another meaning for businesses, and how quickly and effectively businesses were able to support remote working became crucial in keeping the lights on.
Of course, it’s not just mobility of resources, but a combination of people, processes and technology coming together. Connectivity and 5G will surely have a big role to play, and this means that the telecommunications sector will be pivotal in preparing us for this new future. I am excited by the innovative possibilities around 4D videos, 3D holograms, edge computing – just a few examples fast headed our way and what they can mean for our new mobile work environment going forward.
Transforming work, transforming societies
But how ready are CSPs? And how are they evolving their networking strategies because ultimately, it will come down to what they make of this opportunity and how they prioritise their technology investments.
Heavy Reading attempted to find answers to these questions through their annual 5G Network & Service Strategies Operator Survey and published its 2021 report recently. Running into its third edition, the survey report throws interesting insights into how 5G networks and services will evolve as operators and the wider mobile ecosystem invests in and moves towards 5G SA.
Five key points that stand out for me from the report are:
While we are still trying to see the full impact and advantages of 5G, research efforts have already started on 6G in different parts of the world. No time to rest here!
Operators are optimistically looking at launching new and exclusive 5G services within the next three years. This number is up from 8% in 2020 to 28% in 2021, something for us as consumers to be excited about
88% of operators are actively investing and looking to launch edge centres within the next three years
From an enterprise services perspective, CSPs are very interested in engaging with enterprise customers directly on private networks, as opposed to leaving this space for hyper scale vendors or system integrators
The planned BSS/OSS changes for 5G and enhanced data coverage will impact regulatory compliance solutions, including lawful interception and data retention.
BAE Systems Applied Intelligence took part in the study and sponsored its Lawful Interception section. With ongoing network transformations and all of the work going on with 5G, we felt that the industry should look at regulatory compliance holistically in order to understand its impact on network strategies and investments. There are new industry standards being published, and long-term compliance will be the key factor in CSPs’ ability to launch new 5G services.
But just how important is security in all of this, and how does it relate to other fundamental solutions in the network stack, like BSS/OSS?