The 5G rollout in the UK has been surprisingly sluggish. Light Reading reported that, after two years of deploying 5G services, only 40% of the UK population have coverage. This is far below the rate of 4G, which had been rolled out to roughly 70% of homes within the same timescale.
What's holding the 5G rollout back?
External pressures have contributed to this, spanning from the retraction of Huawei equipment to the repercussions of the global pandemic. 5G initiatives are also expensive, and companies want to ensure they receive a return on investment and balancing investments with fibre roll-out. But, this lack of dynamism will impact businesses in the long run.
Alongside external pressures, internal issues have impacted the 5G rollout. For example, adoption has been hampered by a lack of clear direction, as NTT DATA UK recently found that only a third of telcos have a clear strategy for 5G. To address this, it is essential that Communication Service Providers (CSPs) build out a plan to digitise their processes. By simplifying ways of working, teams can identify the administrative tasks that could be turned into automated workflows. It’s also important to have a team of experts capable of working on solutions regardless of the underlying technology. Having in-house cloud storage selection, configuration, and monitoring specialists would help prepare telcos for 5G.
Once these issues are tackled, 5G will be a catalyst for change. 5G is poised to usher in a new era of connectivity, speed, and opportunity for both customers and businesses alike. The technology is expected to have a dramatic impact on the telecommunications industry, unlocking up to $400bn worth of revenue for CSPs and introducing new services that help businesses with their digital transformation journey.
The benefits of 5G
One advantage of 5G is network slicing, which gives critical services access to a portion of the network to meet their requirements. Healthcare is one potential significant beneficiary of the technology. The TM Forum Catalyst team reported that slicing a portion of the connection can help protect essential services during a crisis. Slicing adds a layer of reliability to ensure that a key part of the network is protected from interruption, which can help save lives.
Another example is in major sporting locations such as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 5G enables fans to have the most optimal football experience on-site. Given that match day puts a major strain on the network, which in turn impedes the fans’ link to the internet, slicing helps to boost the capacity to deliver an uninterrupted connection during gameplay. This has the potential unlock new fan experiences in the future, helping build more of a connection between football fans and their club.
In the enterprise world, 5G can help business on their transformation journeys. The speed and capacity that the network brings will help organisations deliver mission-critical services. Telcos can play a big part in this, which will help them build long-term relationships with their customers.
5G deployment challenges
The challenges and barriers that telcos face are extensive. From the external factors of the global pandemic to the size of investment required for expansion. There are internal issues too. Teams need to simplify their workflows and automate the administrative tasks that sap time and energy. Yet, if the challenges are addressed, and telcos can bring 5G to businesses, they can help them digitally transform and become long-term partners. The ambition goes beyond faster Netflix downloads. It is about innovating the very companies that deliver the services we need and enjoy.
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