Biggest trends for 5G as infrastructure to hit $4.2 billion

This year will be a big investment year for 5G for many manufacturers and network operators. Find out what the experts predict will happen next.

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5G will be the main driver for mobility for this year with the market for 5G infrastructure expected to hit $4.2 billion, with two-thirds of companies deploying 5G in 2020, according to Gartner.

5G is a driving force of the enterprise because it allows companies to opt for lower latency, higher bandwidth alternatives to existing networks. This means more devices connected with more capabilities such as artificial intelligence, edge computing and automation.

Experts weigh in with their opinions on the top trends to look for throughout 2020.

SEE: 5G technology: A business leader's guide (TechRepublic Premium) 

5G hits the mainstream

Kyle Kiang, chief marketing officer of OnePlus, said, "5G is a key flagship trend for 2020. OnePlus believes that 2020 will be the tipping point for 5G inclusion, as additional providers follow its lead in being among the first companies to release a 5G phones globally, first in the U.K, and now coming to the U.S. with T-Mobile."

Kiang added, "Mainstream 5G adoption will drive innovation, creating new business opportunities across a wide-range of industries. Consumers acclimating to a new-found transformational leap in mobile connectivity will adopt revolutionary new products, services, and solutions that smartly leverage 5G's chief benefits, namely low-latency and speed. In 2020, the development of 5G infrastructure and use-cases will proceed in parallel, and intersect in increasing frequency as the technology matures." 

Initial rollouts will be underwhelming

Andrew Moore-Crispin, director of content at Ting Mobile, said, "Telcos are promising blazing-fast 5G speeds and while 5G is certainly faster than previous wireless generations, it's not a panacea. 5G has indeed arrived but for myriad reasons, the first rollouts especially will prove underwhelming."

"First, there's the question of infrastructure. The 5G that we're all excited about uses millimeter waves in the high-frequency spectrum. These can carry lots of data, but don't travel far and don't penetrate buildings. That's why any 5G of this type has only been tested in confined urban areas – beyond that, small base stations will need to be implemented to transmit the data. Also, much of what telcos are calling 5G is actually a lot of 4G network components cobbled together and branded 5G. This is known as the non-standalone (NSA) implementation. While it'll make for a smoother transition, in the end it's a bit like a racecar with certain engine parts from a family sedan; it looks good on the outside but presents very differently on the inside," Moore-Crispin said.

Cybersecurity threats expand along with 5G

Rob McNutt, chief technology for Forescout, said, "As adoption spreads, so do potential security threats from these devices. Companies will reach a critical mass of these devices in 2020, forcing them to reevaluate their risk paradigm for connected devices. Further complicating that paradigm is the fact that devices leveraging 5G could potentially bypass some traditional cybersecurity technologies by connecting directly to cellular networks. It's unclear if this changing risk paradigm will result in an attack or breach in 2020 due to the newness of the technology, but regardless, companies will have to consider changing their security strategies or leave a growing section of their devices without adequate protection."

Brian Foster, senior vice president of product management for MobileIron, said, "5G will result in the first public disclosure of a data breach caused by a mobile device. Extremely fast 5G connectivity will enable new capabilities for self-driving cars, remote robotic surgeries, and many other applications that require decisions to be made in single-digit milliseconds. However, it will also accelerate the amount of data lost on mobile devices. 5G will continue to dissolve traditional enterprise network perimeters and cybercriminals will take advantage of security gaps to launch all kinds of attacks, such as phishing, man-in-the-middle, device takeovers, and more."

SEE: 5G: What it means for IoT (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Network operators will push current systems beyond their operating limit

Shane Buckley, president and chief operating officer at Gigamon, said, "With leading network operators expected to roll out 5G services in 2021, I expect network upgrades to occur in 2020 with a bigger ramp-up in 2021. 5G networks are expected to operate at 7-10x the speed of LTE—making network optimization critical to ensure operators can support the application/network performance and security tools at this rate. In 2020, network operators will push their current systems beyond their operating limit, so a new approach to support this massive volume increase in traffic is crucial."

5G won't be a silver bullet

Simone Hearne, principle solutions engineer for Akamai, said, "The rollout of 5G in the year ahead will improve cellular networks, but it won't save organizations and their users from a poor web experience. Even in early adopter markets, organizations should refrain from piling on bigger videos and images to their pages and mobile apps. GSMA predicts only 18% global 5G deployment by 2025. While download speeds will improve with network deployments, the reality is that user devices will continue to be the main constraint for user experience. In 2020, organizations will instead turn to technologies such as WebAssembly and JAMstack to accelerate device processing and deliver fast-by-default experiences."

Also see

5G High speed network connection. Reaching 5g, speedometer closeup view. 3d illustration

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