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It may still be a while before 5G wireless network become pervasively available, but a report published by Infosys this week makes it clear that organizations are already starting to formulate their strategies.

A global survey of 850 senior business and IT leaders conducted by Infosys published this week finds 90 percent of respondents are actively investigating 5G business cases, defining use cases with ecosystem partners, or defining service portfolios.

Obstacles on the path to 5G

Revealed at a Mobile World Congress event, half of the respondents said that system integrators will have to play a greater role in diving 5G adoption. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents expect that finding the right talent to make this transition will be a major challenge.

Not surprisingly, nearly 60 percent of respondents mentioned cost and effectiveness as the primary criteria that will determine when their organization will transition to 5G wireless networks. However, 59 percent of respondents also identified security as the biggest barrier for 5G adoption, followed closely by device readiness (57 percent).

Use cases being investigated

Use cases for 5G networks being actively investigated by survey respondents span everything from smart buildings (41 percent) and mobile offices (39 percent), to solutions aimed at vertical industries such as emergency services in healthcare (45 percent).

In general, each use case cited typically involves the need to transfer a large amount data at low-latency speeds. Despite all the hype surrounding virtual and augmented reality applications involving 5G, the survey suggests most of the initial use cases for 5G will involve some form of machine-to-machine computing.

For example, this week Sprint and Arizona State University (ASU) announced that they are collaborating on a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) applications that ultimately will impact more than two million people in the Phoenix area. ASU is also creating a ‘Curiosity University’ for its employees to foster a new generation of IoT experts and setting up a Sprint 5G Incubator at its Novus Innovation Corridor.

At the same time, providers of application development platforms such as Red Hat are now working with infrastructure vendors such as NVIDIA to make it simpler to build cloud-native 5G applications infused with artificial intelligence (AI).

Next moves for IT service providers

Naturally, the challenge IT service providers now face is they will need to invest in acquiring 5G expertise in advance of demand that might not truly manifest itself until 2021. The good news is carriers are opening 5G labs all around the world. Every one of them is anxious to build out a partner ecosystem to help them rollout and manage 5G applications and infrastructure.

Most IT services providers would be well advised to have a 5G practice in place by the middle of next year at the latest. Customers may not roll out a 5G application until 2021, but Harbor Research is already forecasting the size of the 5G market for fixed wireless and mobile broadband customer premise equipment alone will be valued at more than $5.3 billion by 2023.

The shift to 5G networking has been a long time coming and it’s easy to lose sight of the progress being made in a sea of hype. However, just about every innovative IT solution that will be rolled out through the first half of the next decade is in some way or another going to be dependent on a 5G network.

Photo: MyCreative / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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