5G is one such technology that will play the role of a catalyst to a range of technology solutions and services making it different and not just another ‘G’. It will impact the industry and society far beyond mobile technologies.
In simple terms being defined as the fifth generation of networks, it has far more implications and opportunities than any other networks having design specifications that overcome many 4G limitations. Whether it be data center design, location-based services, real-time analytics or social networks, 5G is bound to affect the demand pattern as early as its adoption.
Adil Baghir, Head of Technology & Solutions Engineering – Global Strategic Accounts at A10 Networks says that 5G is designed to support future technology innovations. It can support millions of devices connected continuously to a high performing mobile network with 100 per cent reliably, at a greatly reduced cost.
“5G networks, with their dramatic advances in transmission speed, latency, capacity, energy efficiency and connection densities, promise to bring about a smarter and more connected world that will drive massive changes across the global economy. 5G-enabled breakthroughs will open new revenue opportunities and business models for operators and their customers,” he added.
Respondents to an A10 Networks research believe the automotive industry (70%), with the advent of self-driving vehicles, will experience the greatest disruption due to 5G. Cloud services are also high on the list of industries that service providers say will undergo disruptive change due to 5G.
Tarek Abbas, Systems Engineering Director MEA at Palo Alto Networks, Middle East and Africa (MEA) believes that 5G has paved the path for the enterprise market and new emerging business models equally. It covers new industries such as smart factory, autonomous transportation, remote healthcare, agriculture and even retail. It is a big technological step-change which will open great new revenue opportunities for businesses.
“5G can assist enterprises where time-critical (no latency) applications are used. For example, high volume transactions between a branch office and the head office,” said Om Prakash Sharma, IT Manager, Radisson Blu Hotel Group. This is mainly because of the high capacity and unprecedented speed of 5G. With a capacity that allows 10000 times the volume of 4G traffic network, it can provide a peak capacity of 10GB/s and allows 100 times more devices to be connected.
“5G is also far more efficient than 4G, so devices connected to the Internet of Things can see their battery life extended by 10 times. The enterprise market will benefit from the increased capacity and efficiency of 5G, but the main benefit will be in a plethora of new services that 5G enables.” said Rasheed Al-Omari, Principal Business Solutions Strategist at VMware.
Slicing the network
Network Slicing is one of the key factors that will impact the 5G market. With its flexibility in the use of 5G in industries, commercialisation of the technology is effective. ‘Markets & Markets’ reported provided by VMware suggests that the global network slicing market size is projected to grow to US$1,284 million by 2025, up from US$161 million in 2020.
“Network slicing will be especially important to 5G due to its high speed, low latency, and the wide variety of solutions and applications that it will underpin. Different organisations will require varying levels of redundancy at specific speeds and capacities,” said Al-Omari. Baghir of A10 Networks backs this and said: “Even though network slicing is not fully dependent on 5G, and Operators tried exploring some opportunities around network slicing with 4G/LTE however the rollout of 5G will be a game-changer for network slicing implementation and use case, considering that network slicing along with other key attributes such as automation and security orchestration form part of a comprehensive 5G strategy.”
Chris Dando, Chief Technologist, Communications, Media and Entertainment Industry, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, says that network slicing on 5G networks enables the network to be sub-divided and consequently to offer different levels of service for different scenarios. “It provides the opportunity to enable higher priority, latency sensitive content to be prioritized over content that is not time critical or to separate environments from the public network for security purposes.,” he added.
The perfect match
With the entire technology under the limelight, the discussion would not be complete without adding in the hot topic in technology, AI/ML. AI/ML and 5G is said to be like bread and butter, the perfect match made in heaven. With 5G offering capabilities supporting low latency and high speeds amongst several devices and a mix of traffic types from diverse applications, AI/ML complements it by learning from complex patterns to provide autonomous operations and transforming into a scalable real-time data-driven network.
“Artificial intelligence and machine learning are bleeding-edge technologies, and when used in conjunction with a fast always-connected 5G network, they bring new capabilities including inter-machine data-sharing and decision-making,” said Baghir.
Palo Alto’s Abbas adds to this and said that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are important players when it comes to 5G in the cybersecurity sector, as they help identify variations of known threats and patterns in attacks to predict the next stages of an attack.
The difficult part of the ‘race’
Though AI/ML plays an important role in the cybersecurity sector, the security concerns of 5G is much higher and in an endless debate. Being a physical overhaul, 5G will have long term impacts. As it is a mostly software network, the future upgrades will be software which comes with the vulnerabilities. This is the tough part of the 5G ‘race’. It is difficult and yet important to secure this network and the ecosystem of connected devices.
Baghir says “Security remains the top concern of service providers as they transition to 5G. With the explosion of new devices, including millions of IoT devices, that will be accessing the network, the attack surface expands exponentially. Service providers will have to upgrade their networks with the latest security tools like firewalls and distributed denial of service (DDoS) detection to ensure the network is protected from Malware, intrusions and DDoS attacks so that 5G services can be delivered with zero interruption.”
The combination of AI and 5G will be a new horizon for cybersecurity. “Its low latency and ability to connect complex, sophisticated devices will power new levels of security, for example at airports, sporting venues and retail outlets,” said Al-Omari. He further added that “As 5G becomes ubiquitous, we will start to see even more aspects of our lives be touched by digital technology and services. As such, the potential attack surface will increase. All devices and all parts of the network will need to be secured.”
The issue of cybersecurity becomes even more complicated with the era of hybrid cloud. Dando explains that 5G moves away from stand-alone or proprietary architectures and towards the adoption of modern cloud native and open architectures both within the 5G network and also the support of those architectures at the edge.
The time for Channels
As many aspects of 5G is still abstract, it is seen as the best time for channel partners to enter into the industry and prepare their customers for deployment. Sharma of Radisson Blu said Channel partners must be educating the customers on the benefits of 5G network in the day to day operations.
Although there is an increase in 5G implementations, some channel partners are holding in and waiting for widespread adoptions and opportunities to emerge. “The adoption of 5G will be challenging for channel partners, but it can also be an area of growth by having the capability to compare and analyse all data from connected devices. With the data, channel providers can even go beyond IT, merging with other business areas such as automation or even logistics,” said Abbas.
Once 5G is fully operational, there would be a huge impact in the network market yet this is seen as the optimum solution for the enterprise or any kind of industry.