The stages of Planning and Design play a pivotal role in the successful adoption of any new technology. The transition to 5G is expected to be quite different and complex from the previous generations of wireless technologies. Along with the deployment challenges, business leaders are also perplexed by the economic uncertainties that 5G brings, given the uncertainty around regulatory issues such as which spectrum will be released first viz lower band (700 MHz) or the mid to high band (3-4 GHz), or the mm band (24- 39 GHz) and the lack of proven use-cases. Because of this ambiguity, CEOs across industries are treading the path of adopting 5G cautiously.
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While it is not wholly untrue that operators have made significant progress in developing technology and pilot strategies, the preparation of business use-cases and commercial plans is still at a nascent stage. Having said that, there are a few common challenges that each business is bound to face when it transitions to 5G-enabled network infrastructure. These are:
Managing the density of the 5G network in terms of the number of hardware components such as antennas, radio base stations (RAN), and supporting software.
Keeping an eye on operational and maintenance costs.
Dealing with unidentified data security and privacy issues.
The journey from the voice-based 2G wireless network to the data-focused 4G has been progressively gradual, spanning two to three decades. However, the 5G wireless network brings with it transformative changes in scalability, transmission speeds, lower latency, and the sheer number of devices it enables to be interconnected, thereby ushering in immense opportunities for businesses.
A strategy to be owned by the leadership
Within any company, the topmost priority of the leadership is to look into the company’s strategic stance. Since the process involving the transition to the 5G network and its assimilation to the existing business model consists of many complexities, both with respect to the regulatory approvals and the big-ticket capital investments, the probability of realizing rewards in the immediate future may not be a given. It is improbable that profits would be realized, going the mass-market way. Instead, offerings in niche areas such as Fixed Wireless Access(FWA), and connected vehicles, and verticals like gaming, retail, travel, learning and development, employing immersive technologies such as AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality), Industrial IoT, 5G enabled cloud robotics and the like, will drive the revenue stream for businesses.
Identify areas of cost-saving!
While it is correct to say that deploying a 5G network requires significant investments, there are ways to tone down any major upfront investments.
Avoid a blanket transition without having a clear plan to monetize the investment.
Consider having network infrastructure partnerships. As you begin to deal with large volumes of data, data privacy and cybersecurity issues will be on the top of a business leader’s mind. CXOs should scout for partners who can offer cost-effective security solutions that would help them wade through these business challenges in such a scenario. A sound mechanism for inviting RFPs from prospective vendors and performing a comparative study of the same would go a long way in bringing down the costs incurred on setting up security infrastructure.
The decision to transition to a 5G enabled network depends on the volume and scale of data that needs to be processed; hence, it is imperative to identify areas where huge volumes of data are generated and initiate network rollout at these identified spots. This planned rollout will help in maximizing returns on your investment.
How to tackle operational challenges
While the leadership tends to focus more on profitability, given the investments required, planning for the ensuing operational challenges is often overlooked.
As the 5G network operates on a greater bandwidth, it uses two sets of frequency bands. Add to these the six existing bands used for 2G, 3G, and 4G; the total number of frequency bands is eight. Businesses will have to take a call on load distribution to balance the network load evenly across the many frequency layers.
5G networks would increase the scale of automation, meaning that businesses would have to shift from legacy systems. Newer tools and a trained workforce will be needed to manage a mesh of interconnected devices supported by the 5G network.
5G networks will enable significant improvements in the delivery and customer experience. Virtual networks with functionality specific to the respective customer’s needs would have to be set up over a shared network infrastructure. This degree of network slicing would require high levels of network intelligence and automation.
Finally, organizations would also require skilled personnel with native cloud programming & engineering skills to manage the high degree of automation that the 5G network will bring.
A strong commitment in terms of investments and effort is required for the 5G transition, even though the path ahead may not be entirely clear. For this reason, we would like to reiterate that the leadership of an organization that is considering adopting 5G should take the onus of the entire process of transition to 5G and not restrict their involvement to just the strategy phase.
eInfochips has been recognized by some marquee publications across the globe as one of the trusted leaders in designing products and engineering solutions based on new & emerging technologies for their clientele and aiding them in their business transformation journey. Developing 5G solutions and helping our clients in putting forth a roadmap for their successful transition to the 5G infrastructure is an addition to the bouquet of our offerings. To know more please contact us today.
Karnesh is a Marketing & Communications professional, with an overall experience of 8+ years in the realm of Corporate Communications, encompassing varied areas such as brand management, content writing & editing, handling media relations, Internal Communications, managing social media properties, and, activities such as Online Reputation management to assiduously build brands on Digital platforms. Academically, he is an Engineer with a major in Information Technology and a postgraduate with Marketing as a major.