Despite an aggressive push, the 5G technology could take about five years from now to demonstrate compelling use cases. According to a new 5G report from consultancy major PwC, the year 2023 will be a defining year when 5G is likely to hit a tipping point. Titled, Making 5G Real, the report highlights that the networks’ performance will significantly improve in countries like the US where 5G has already been launched.
According to PwC, in the US, 80% of the population is expected to have 5G coverage accessible at home or work by July 2021. However, the performance of 5G networks remains uneven.
This, according to the consultancy major, is mainly because carriers and device manufacturers are facing a massive challenge to push the consumer upgrade cycles and meet deployment milestones.
There is no doubt that 5G will inevitably make deeper inroads into the network ecosystems and open up new exciting revenue streams for telcos and enterprises. However, its snail-paced growth is a big worry that the industry is currently wrestling with.
Multiple factors delaying expansion
There will be several variables that will define the capabilities of 5G networks. The successful use cases of 5G are still minimal and likely to emerge at scale only in the next three to five years. For instance, one of the hyped use cases of 5G, the fully autonomous car, is yet to mature, and most automobile manufacturers have pushed their timelines in this regard.
While the COVID-19 pandemic could be a reason for the delay in 5G rollouts in many countries, it is also true that countries such as India see no immediate need to make heavy investments in the 5G networks. This is mainly because a significant section of their subscribers is from the low-budget category.
The robust networks and availability of mass 5G devices will play critical roles in making this blazing technology available for the masses. The 5G device ecosystem could also take much longer to mature than many industry onlookers may think.
The rollout of different generations of mobile networks has always taken many years to mature. However, with 5G, expectations were rife that the technology would become mainstream sooner because 5G standards were adopted faster due to better interoperability with the previous network standards.
Even in the countries where 5G has been launched, the customer experience is not up to the mark till date and needs a lot more polishing. The devices are a tad expensive and also consumes more power than the 4G devices.
Enterprises should use this time wisely
Most organizations worldwide are currently in various stages of deploying new technologies, enhancing their service delivery, revamping communication strategy, and improving operational efficiency. There is a more significant push toward enabling new industrial applications such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), IIoT, and AR/VR. Evolved 5G networks will be critical for businesses to run applications based on these technologies. (See: Here’s how 5G could be a catalyst for IIoT and Industry 4.0)
While the technology itself could take up to five years for mass adoption, PwC cautions enterprises that they might risk rushing into the wrong 5G investments or failing to act soon enough. They recommend that businesses use this time wisely to transform themselves for new 5G services such as the internet of things (IoT) and monitoring and assurance solutions. (See: CIOs to focus on network transformation for business continuity)
Since most enterprises are already undertaking digital transformation journeys, it would be a good idea to integrate their 5G strategic goals and brainstorm how 5G could help them improve their products and services once the technology is mature.