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Are you ready for 5G?

5G technologies and innovations will become increasingly commonplace over the next decade, and prove to be a major disruptor for a range of industries, including IT.

A recent report titled The Coming Revolution: 5G and its impact on IT, 451 Research explores the potential technological and business impact of 5G on the IT industry.

451 Research believes that 5G will have a catalytic effect on a wide range of IT technology and services, impacting almost all parts of industry and society far beyond mobile technologies and business models.

The report highlights that any supplier that is touched by the mobile internet, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud services, consumer electronics or automation needs to assess the coming impact of 5G.

“IT players need to think about IoT now and 5G soon,” says Ken Rehbehn, 451 Research principal analyst mobile telecom.

“Whether it is real-time analytics, data centre design, location-based web services, or social networks and digital currencies, 5G will affect demand patterns as early as 2018,” he says.

More than an update on current technologies, 5G will trigger a wave of innovation and make information and computing power instantaneously available, 451 says. Innovations will spread far and wide, impacting mobile technology, real-time analytics, edge-of-network data centres, and new applications and services such as semi-autonomous vehicles, augmented reality and IoT.

However, initially 5G implementation will be very patchy. According to 451, deployment will depend on players seeking to leapfrog others; local demand for capabilities not possible on 3G/4G; government intervention; investment; the effectiveness of new technologies at scale; and new business cases involving collaboration of multiple players.

Furthermore, there is some degree of uncertainty, as not all the 5G technologies are proven, especially at scale. Nor is it clear that capabilities such as sub-one-millisecond responses will justify the investment. Areas requiring particular investment are low-latency services, low-power devices and networks, and the ability to support huge numbers of devices, 451 says.

Taking this into account, many governments want to get ahead in 5G and digital living, but operators are concerned with shareholder returns. This conflict could lead to the creation of private-public partnerships to raise financing, 451 says.

On top of this, 451 Research finds that competitive technologies could yet wreck the economics. For example, technologies such as LoRA or Weightless-N could emerge as options for low-bandwidth edge computing for IoT, taking a major driver for 5G off the table.

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