5G networks are expected to be huge for enterprises. Source: Shutterstock

5G networks are expected to be huge for enterprises. Source: Shutterstock

Gartner sees telcos increasingly pitch 5G services to enterprises

GLOBALLY, there’s strong interest in 5G and companies see the technology as something that can transform their operations, supply chains, as well as business models.

Businesses in the manufacturing and automotive sector, for example, have already started experimenting with the technology.

Malaysia recently said it received interest from companies in verticals such as agriculture, education, entertainment, and healthcare, for 5G trials, and BMW announced that its production facility in China is now fully 5G enabled, with plans to use the technology in facilities at home are around the world.

According to Gartner, although the public represents a significant segment driving their 5G development, a strong focus on enterprise applications is starting to emerge.

Gartner’s analysts believe that 5G will lend itself well to support technology-first concepts such as smart factories, autonomous transportation, remote healthcare, and innovations in agriculture and retail sectors.

In the case of manufacturers and automakers, a 5G network can also enable private networks for industrial uses — including the deployment of digital twins and other innovative Industry 4.0 initiatives.

As a result, telecommunication equipment vendors view private networks for industrial users as a market segment with significant potential.

“It’s still early days for the 5G private-network opportunity, but vendors, regulators and standards bodies have preparations in place,” said Gartner Senior Research Director Sylvain Fabre.

In China, for example, BMW worked with China Unicom and China Mobile to build the necessary infrastructure and connect the 5G network across a total area of more than three million square meters.

Gartner’s forecast suggests that about 7 percent of the world’s telcos have already deployed 5G infrastructure in their networks. In Malaysia, for example, Maxis announced that it was trialing its 5G network and hoped to launch to the public — pending support from the ministry — as soon as next year.

“Over the last few years, we have been assessing the technology and conducting demo trials in our test lab. We are already upgrading our transport network to support these gigabit speeds and at the same time virtualizing our core network elements for flexibility and scalability for the capacity demands of this technology,” said Maxis CTO Morten Bangsgaard.

“We are really excited at the potential of 5G in a future of smart solutions for both consumers and businesses, and we are pleased with our progress.”

In Singapore, Singtel is working closely with the government to roll-out 5G quickly and the country’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) clearly sees 5G networks as something that will aid enterprises climb the digital maturity curve.

“5G has the potential to be an important enabler for Singapore’s Digital Economy. IMDA aims to establish an open and vibrant ecosystem, which in turn supports the deployment of innovative 5G applications for our industries and consumers,” said IMDA CEO Tan Kiat How.

Further, Singtel, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC), and JTC have are looking to jointly deploy 5G at the ARTC in the Jurong Innovation District.

According to Singtel, enterprises can leverage the ARTC to explore how 5G can enable digital technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotics, to create next-generation manufacturing solutions that can help them operate efficiently.

Singapore and Malaysia aside, telcos in other countries in the APAC are also exploring opportunities to educate enterprises about the benefits of 5G networks and to put private 5G networks on their digital transformation agenda.

In Australia, for example, a recent study that polled 271 IT-decision makers in the country found that 68 percent of IT and business leaders see 5G as crucial for their future strategy, while half said it was critical for future application development.

Overall, the expectation is that enterprises (such as BMW in China) will see 5G networks being deployed much faster than the public — and rightfully so. 5G can, after all, revolutionize businesses in ways 2G, 3G, and 4G never could.