UK 5G predictions for 2020

We examine some of the top trends for 5G development in 2020

gettyimages 1043302218 1
Image: Getty Images

At least here in the UK, 2019 was the year 5G finally took off, with most of the major network providers switching on their next generation networks.

Labelling 2020 “the year of 5G,” Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon believes that 5G will go mainstream in the next decade as the network becomes even more accessible for enterprise and consumer customers alike.

But how will this impact the future of business and how much potential does 5G have to drive innovation in organisations? We examine some of the major trends of 5G today and what is expected in 2020.

Adoption: enterprise vs consumer

The fifth-generation network will impact enterprise and consumer markets in different ways.

According to figures from GSMA Intelligence, the adoption of 5G in enterprises will see a significant rise by 2025, with its head of research, Tim Hatt, noting that enterprises will see the most noticeable adoption benefits.

“The reason for that is that many different parts of the economy and many companies in different sectors of the economy are digitising their operations,” he said. “This is sort of the industrial revolution comparison to Industry 4.0 and when you get into things like automation, robotics and remote healthcare applications, there is significant selling opportunities there for 5G tech because it offers much lower latency than previous.”

It is expected that the manufacturing and automotive sectors will see the greatest take up of 5G, but it will also help businesses thrive in the data-driven era.

Innovation Era

“5G will take the industry beyond communications, bringing together wireless, computing and cloud to create a unified technological foundation and a scalable global marketplace,” Asha Keddy, VP in the technology, systems architecture and client group at Intel predicts in a blog post.

Wireless network capability will experience a shift based on the availability of 5G too.

“5G will also see new, disruptive players entering the market in smart cities, IoT devices and private networks. All these new players will also require spectrum, driving innovation in regulation and allocation,” Angela Logothesis, CTO at Amdocs Open Network told Computerworld.

This is also dependent on the availability of spectrum in the UK, which will have a huge impact on the 5G experience. According to Open Signal, the majority of 5G launches this year have utilised mid-band spectrum, which is ideal for urban area rollouts, but high-band spectrum will be required for a better 5G experience.

“Multiple countries, including the USA, Japan, Germany and the UK are already regulating bands of spectrums to be available through shared and priority access, and to be dedicated to enterprise applications. But in 2020, as 5G begins to take hold, this will encourage innovation, disruption, and competition in that market,” Logothesis added.

Read next: The barriers to 5G deployment in the UK

The need for speed

Recent research from Ookla shows that the new generation network is 450 percent faster than 4G. This is only expected to get even faster in years to come as performance is improved across the network.

A number of speed tests in the early rollout of 5G show a significant improvement in video downloads from 4G, for example.

“But 5G is not all about peak speeds. The real impact of 5G lies with latency. 5G is about reducing the latency associated with mobile connectivity to something that is,  theoretically,  very close to the speed of a human brain and human reaction times,” Tim Sherwood, vice president of business development, mobility and IoT solutions at Tata Communications said.

“With that type of almost instantaneous response available, you can start to experiment with using mobile networks for use cases, such as autonomous vehicles and robotic surgeries.”

5G speeds will make room for newer industries, whilst also transforming existing ones by speeding up tech advancements within smart cities and connected cars.

Cisco predicts that 5G will generate three times more traffic than the average 4G connection by 2020, making up three percent of total mobile connections.

“For mission-critical applications such as these, networks also need to be able to guarantee service levels – so as well as being close to zero latency, 5G networks will also need to be ultra-reliable and have 100 percent coverage across any country if we are to achieve these kinds of use cases,” Sherwood added.

Emergence of 5G for IoT

“Telecom experts are going so far as to herald 5G's arrival as the advent of the fourth industrial revolution. In fact, 5G – with its enhanced capacity, connectivity, speeds and minimal latencies – will be the catalyst for IoT adoption,” said Nick Offin, head of operations at Dynabook Northern Europe. “Other technologies predicted to springboard off 5G include cloud and edge computing, wearables, and 8K technology – to name a few.”

In addition, 5G is expected to help businesses manage the data and information produced by IoT devices at speed. Automotive, smart infrastructure, manufacturing and healthcare are sectors that are expected to see the biggest impact of 5G in the future.

In fact, Gartner predicts that the automotive industry will become the largest market opportunity for 5G IoT solutions in the future, representing 53 percent of 5G IoT endpoints by 2023.

“Monetising 5G roaming will be a priority for operators, and the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will present a means of doing just that. Companies operating in the IIoT have the funds and financial incentive to invest in and pay for 5G connectivity and, as many have a global footprint, will also be able to invest in and pay for 5G roaming," Mikaël Schachne, CMO and VP of mobility and IoT business at BICS added.

“We’ll see the IIoT benefit from remote tracking, robotics, efficiencies in productivity and project management, and automation, while operators can unlock a major revenue opportunity and continue to monetise a core part of their service offering.”

What to expect

Although the changes will not happen instantly, 5G will cause a gradual impact, marking 2020 as the beginning of a new era.

5G will transform the future of work, with significant changes to the way we live. Enterprise businesses will see a huge rise in the opportunities the network provides to deliver new innovations and data processing capabilities.

IHS Markit, for one, estimates that 5G will drive $13.2 trillion (£9.87 trillion) in global sales by 2035, whilst supporting 22.3 million jobs.

“It is encouraging to see that 5G now has broad support from almost all device makers. In 2020, 5G-compatible devices will enter the volume market, which will scale up 5G adoption,” Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and head of networks at Ericsson said. “The question is no longer if, but how quickly we can convert use cases into relevant applications for consumers and enterprises.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon