5G adoption ‘purposely delayed’ by European network strategy decision-makers

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Even though it says it wholly realises that every company is on a different journey with regards to their use and adoption of next-generation networks, Sierra Wireless has expressed surprise at the current level of inertia in Europe, revealed in a study it has just released.

Sierra Wireless commissioned analyst firm IDC to conduct research to gain a deeper understanding of user perspectives on 5G, including adoption plans and implementation obstacles in 214 large enterprises across four key industries in Western Europe: public safety, transportation, utilities and manufacturing.

The standout, and somewhat worrying, conclusion drawn by the company was that 5G adoption was being delayed, intentionally, by European network strategy decision-makers (NSDMs).

The survey revealed that just over two-thirds (68%) of western European organisations do not currently have 5G as a part of their cellular or mobile network services infrastructure, while a quarter (25%) of European NSDMs are not currently interested and do not have plans to move to 5G. Nearly half (47%) of organisations said they had given 5G consideration and decided against adoption. Just 1% of western European organisations currently have more than half of their cellular infrastructure based on 5G. However, this figure is expected to increase to 27% within the next two years.

When asked why they had no interest or plans to move to 5G, settling for their current network infrastructure and budget concerns were the key reasons for their inertia. Specifically, 58% said they were happy with their organisation’s current network infrastructure and three-fifths (61%) cited budget concerns as reasons for their inertia.

“Like many other foundational elements of the tech landscape, 5G isn’t arriving in a ‘big bang’ but as a series of waves. As with 3G and 4G before it, 5G is following a path to commercialisation that reflects what’s easiest to deploy,” said Marc Overton, senior vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and chief solutions officer at Sierra Wireless.

“European organisations that are unsure about adopting 5G must think bigger than just the smartphone. 5G will enable a much broader ecosystem of communications devices and sensors to be utilised and will therefore reduce the total cost of ownership. Upgrading to 5G also means that networks can handle large volumes of data with much faster response times… [Many industries are] set to benefit from the technology as we herald a new dawn for public and private connectivity, with 5G being able to deliver the performance needed to connect medical devices in emergency vehicles, utilise autonomous robots in factories and provide high-performance backup connectivity to a range of businesses.”

“There are a variety of ways for enterprises to catch the 5G wave and companies should not panic and hold off on their current IoT initiatives – especially since 5G has been designed to coexist with 4G, extending 4G’s lifespan”
Marc Overton, Sierra Wireless

Going forward, Sierra Wireless predicts there will be a new wave of 5G which will encompass the use of it to extend existing low-power wide area (LPWA) internet of things (IoT) applications. This will primarily support massive, machine-type communication (mMTC) IoT use cases using LPWA technologies, which are designed for IoT applications that require low-cost devices, low-power usage and a large number of connected edge devices in a given area.

Overton added that organisations that begin the roll-out of 5G today will be able to facilitate a smooth transition from 4G for their applications and mMTC, while also taking advantage of any future enhancements in the technology via software updates.

“Enterprises should move ahead with any mMTC-type IoT application initiatives they are currently pursuing or planning – knowing that when 5G’s enhancements to LPWA become available, they will be able to quickly update their application to benefit from these enhancements,” he said.

“There are a variety of ways for enterprises to catch the 5G wave and companies should not panic and hold off on their current IoT initiatives – especially since 5G has been designed to coexist with 4G, extending 4G’s lifespan. Organisations should ask themselves what type of 5G use cases might enable them to reimagine their future and then consider providers with the knowledge, solutions and expertise to help make the transition.” 


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