Mobile service providers push ahead with 5G amidst pandemic

Research shows telcos making strides in 5G networks.

Mobile service providers say they are making substantial progress toward ushering in a new generation of 5G Networks that will enable ultra-high-speed mobile connectivity and a wide variety of new applications and smart infrastructure use cases.

Progress includes steady work toward virtualising core network functions and a re-examination of the security investments they will need to protect their networks and customers.

COVID-19 is not expected to significantly delay 5G deployments, according to a recently released global study report, “Toward a More Secure 5G World,” developed by the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network, in partnership with A10 Networks.

The percentage of mobile service providers who say their companies are “moving rapidly toward commercial deployment” has increased significantly in the past year, climbing from 26 percent in a survey announced in early 2019 to 45 percent in the new survey. Virtually all respondents say improved security is a critical network requirement and top concern in the 5G era.

Early 5G networks are being designed in accordance with the already-approved non-standalone 5G standard.

However, 30 percent of respondents say they are already proactively planning to add standalone 5G, and another nine percent said their companies will move directly to standalone. Standalone 5G will require a whole new network core utilising a cloud-native, virtualised, service-based architecture.

Many respondents said they are making significant progress toward network virtualisation, said Dave Murray, director of thought leadership with the BPI Network.

“Our latest study indicates that major mobile carriers around the world are on track with their 5G plans, and more expect to begin commercial build-outs in the coming months,” he said. “While COVID-19 may result in some short-term delays for operators, the pandemic ultimately demonstrates a global need for higher speed, higher capacity 5G networks and the applications and use case they enable.”

Key findings of the survey:

  • 81 per cent say industry progress toward 5G is moving rapidly, mostly in major markets, or is at least in line with expectations.
  • 71 per cent expect to begin 5G network build-outs within 18 months, including one-third who have already begun or will do so in 2020.
  • 95 per cent percent say virtualising network functions is important to their 5G plans, and some three-quarters say their companies are either well on their way or making good progress toward virtualisation.
  • 99 per cent view deployment of mobile edge clouds as an important aspect of 5G networks, with 65 per cent saying they expect edge clouds on their 5G networks within 18 months.

Mobile operators globally need to proactively prepare for the demands of a new virtualized and secure 5G world, said Gunter Reiss, worldwide vice president of A10 Networks.

“That means boosting security at key protection points like the mobile edge, deploying a cloud-native infrastructure, consolidating network functions, leveraging new CI/CD integrations and DevOps automation tools, and moving to an agile and hyperscale service-based architecture as much as possible,” he said. “All of these improvements will pay dividends immediately with existing networks and move carriers closer to their ultimate goals for broader 5G adoption and the roll-out of new and innovative ultra-reliable low-latency use cases.”





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