Experts Caution Against the 5G Rush
The hype about 5G is deafening.
The promise of superfast speeds with ultra-low latency and more network capacity that can support a new set of applications is at the core of 5G’s potential. But many experts are questioning the hype and hyperbole of 5G.
The contention is that there are not enough short-term use cases for 5G. 5G will have to co-exist with earlier generation technologies mostly. It would require a massive refresh of telecom infrastructure to make 5G widely prevalent.
Experts say that while 5G’s promises hold the potential, the initial phase would be about small, well-defined areas that have a complete 5G network like a hospital or a research institution.
Experts such as Dean Bubley, mobile industry analyst, Disruptive Analysis, have further said that ultra-low latency applications will be very localized. Even the socalled ‘massive IoT’ opportunity may not be an immediate one; other IoT network technologies like SigFox and NB-IoT are deployed, and it would be too early to rip them off in favor of 5G. Toby Youell, Research Analyst, Policy Tracker, too agrees that early use cases for true 5G are limited.
The noise about 5G is created by telecom manufacturers such as Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei; chip manufacturers such as Intel and Qualcomm; and a few operators.
Though he does not dismiss the potential of 5G, Magnus Jern, Head of Innovation, DMI, says that the current trend of operators and telecom manufacturers raising the pitch on 5G is more like a solution looking for a problem. Jern further states that “a lot of the early 5G hyperbole was believed by governments around the world, which are now pushing for it to be a reality.“
Talking of government, let’s look at India. While the NDCP 2018 is ambitious, 5G is among the areas that GoI recommends to promote when it refers to “next generation access technologies” in India. It further states— recognizing mid-band spectrum, particularly the 3 GHz to 24 GHz range— is central to India’s strategy for ‘NextGeneration Networks’. 5G is considered to be one of the biggest enablers of the Digital India initiative.
Sure, the government stands to earn handsomely from 5G spectrum auctions when it happens. But through the COAI, operators like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, have conveyed to the government that 5G spectrum auctions should be postponed till FY2020 to allow the devices ecosystem to develop, help the industry overcome its financial stress, and consolidate completely.
This brings us to the question whether 5G is revolutionary or evolutionary. The right answer, perhaps, is to treat it as evolutionary until such time its revolutionary potential is ready to be tapped. Else haste may make waste.