In an increasingly connected world, the next wave of 5G technology will bring improved wireless, secure and private networks. This will drive 5G adoption in 2024. The future of 5G will focus on how enterprises can deploy 5G on a massive scale based on its high speeds, ultra-low latency and an increased number of IoT connections.
In the HCLTech Trends 2024 report, three elements: wireless, secure and personalized networks will take center stage in 2024, as 5G becomes a ubiquitous trend. 5G is currently being adopted by organizations, with continued investments worldwide, despite geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges.
As enterprises become more data-reliant, the need for strong, secure low latency and high bandwidth solutions are more important than ever. According to the HCLTech Trends 2024 report, the Entertainment & Multimedia industry is poised to witness the greatest impact when it comes to advancements made in the 5G sector. Furthermore, the healthcare industry will see the next greatest impact of advancements.
Understanding the 5G landscape
When taking stock of the current 5G landscape, HCLTech’s report identified three key micro trends, including Network Slicing, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and 5G Standalone. The highest adoptability rate currently belongs to 5G Standalone, implying that it has more interest from the larger market.
5G Standalone technology represents a fully independent 5G network architecture, operating without reliance on the existing 4G infrastructure. The technology provides comprehensive access to 5G capabilities such as ultra-fast data speeds, ultra-low latency and robust device connectivity. The next-gen communication architecture is vital for applications like autonomous vehicles, augmented reality and IoT.
The benefits of 5G standalone center on greater flexibility that allows organizations to move workloads closer to a customer, along with predictive and preventative maintenance, which allows businesses to identify and fix issues before they happen in the network — mitigating the impact of a potential failure and allowing customers to stay connected.
The 5G Standalone ecosystem has reached maturity and is positioned for rapid, large-scale global deployment, the report found.
5G Network Slicing is a transformative technology that enables network operators to partition a single physical 5G network into multiple virtual networks, each customized for specific use cases or services. Network slices possess unique configurations, performance characteristics and security parameters. Additionally, network slicing optimizes the 5G network for diverse applications, from enhanced mobile broadband to critical machine communication and massive IoT ecosystems, ensuring each service receives the requisite resources and quality of service on the same physical infrastructure. Through this, operations get streamlined and automation speeds up processes, while reducing configuration errors to improve the consumer experience.
Lastly, 5G FWA harnesses 5G networks to deliver high-speed internet connectivity to residences and businesses, bypassing the need for conventional wired connections. It includes the deployment of 5G base stations that transmit internet signals to a receiver at the customer’s location. 5G FWA plays a crucial role in bridging the significant global digital divide, while facilitating broadband access in regions with limited connectivity options, such as rural areas and underserved communities where fiber is expensive to lay and maintain. FWA also allows telecommunications organizations to build a footprint and grab market share outside of their usual services or territories.
"Communication service providers and enterprises need a system integration partner that can scale in diverse technology domains to integrate, deploy and operate 5G networks. Creating a differentiated set of services to address the unique system integration requirements for disaggregated and distributed network domains that include RAN, transport and core is key for service providers," said Gurpreet Kohli, SVP, Telco, HCLTech.
According to World Economic Forum, 50% of India’s population, 582 million people in China and 44 million people in the US are not connected to the internet, underlying the need for this 5G solution in 2024 and beyond.
“5G is revolutionizing the world of business by enabling enterprises and service providers alike to reimagine new opportunities for their clients,” said Kohli. “HCLTech has made continual investments in areas like 5G labs, IP and have improved our ability to adapt to changing business environments with a dedicated focus on driving innovation, reduced time-to-market services and cost-saving initiatives for clients.”
The need for network slicing
5G network deployments have led to new opportunities for a wide range of applications, such as augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, smart cities and IoT. These diverse requirements, however, cause challenges for traditional network architectures and this is where network slicing comes into play.
Each network slice operates as a self-contained network with its own unique characteristics, like bandwidth, latency and security parameters. The customization network slicing allows 5G to efficiently support myriad applications with varying demands. Network slicing ensures that the 5G infrastructure can flexibly adapt to diverse requirements. For example, network slicing can make it possible to create a private 5G network with specific service characteristics along with varying degrees of security, isolation, exposure and self-management.
Networking slicing is currently in the hype cycle, according to 45% of the report’s respondents. There is potential for profitability and agility on the horizon, but it is still some way from mass adoption. Furthermore, this micro trend has a projected market size of $13.6 billion by 2030 and represents an opportunity for telecommunications companies and enterprises to tailor services to different customers in a dynamic way.
Organizations have also started maximizing the profitability potential that can be developed out of 5G and can now begin looking at customized solutions for their unique problems and varying demands.
Before network slicing reaches mass adoption, organizations will need to overcome several challenges, including overcoming the complexity of implementation that requires sophisticated orchestration and automation systems. Other challenges include allocating and managing network resources for various slices to meet their specific requirements, as well as overcoming regulatory restrictions or changes in regulations that could impact the deployment and operation of network slices.
“There is currently a great need for scalable, reliable 5G solutions across nearly every enterprise and industry,” said Kohli. “With ultra-low latency, enhanced control and flexibility, including network slicing and reduced hardware and cabling needs, 5G networks can help in the evolution of industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, supply chain and logistics, especially when paired with IoT and connected systems.”
FWA disrupting the 5G landscape
According to the trends report, FWA has the highest potential revenue streams and a projected market size of $153 billion by 2028. It also has one of the highest impacts on direct profitability potential.
FWA has moved beyond hype into realization, but it is still waiting for large scale implementation.
In terms of business value, FWA provides low latency, enhanced mobility and quick disaster recovery. With low latency, 5G FWA networks are suitable for real-time applications such as online gaming, video conferencing and IoT devices. Through enhanced mobility, FWA can support on-the-go connectivity for vehicles, offering internet access for cars, buses and other mobile applications. And in disaster-stricken areas where traditional infrastructure is damaged or unavailable, 5G FWA can quickly establish connectivity for emergency services and affected communities.
As FWA moves toward mass adoption, key drivers for adoption include a rising dependency on connected devices with applications like distant learning, autonomous driving, multi-user gaming, video conferencing and live streaming leading to an increase in demand for fixed wireless connections.
Additionally, the integration of AI and IoT is resulting in greater usage of high-speed internet across diverse industries, and this is propelling demand for FWA.
“The ability to create dynamic, dedicated virtual networks with functionality and performance for real-world scenarios will benefit various industries,” said Kohli. “These capabilities are particularly important for emerging use cases around IoT.”
As our world continues to increase its digital footprint, 5G technology will help organizations and customers remain connected, address unique challenges and provide new opportunities for enterprises to exploit in 2024. Various industries will fulfill their needs for low-latency, secure connections to different applications and IoT devices. 5G will be a game changer for enterprises needing high security and reliability.