5G Report: Where Are We Now?

We’ll continue to be hearing a lot this year about 5G, or the fifth generation of wireless technology. This once-in-a-decade upgrade will leap ahead of current wireless technology, 4G, by enabling mobile internet speeds that let people download entire movies in seconds and pave the way for a new generation of highly reliable, real-time, automated services like the internet of things (IoT) that will revolutionize the mobile industry and different industries.

But there remain a variety of questions and unknowns about how 5G will actually become commercially available this year. As one of Syniverse’s 5G specialists, I often get asked a number of common questions about the new services that 5G will bring, and how mobile operators and ordinary or nontechnology companies will begin to make use of 5G.

In this post, I’d like to give a quick progress report and share a few of these answers, as well as an update on how Syniverse is preparing to support this year’s hottest 5G areas.  

What will be some of the most important factors that determine the adoption of 5G by consumers this year?

I see two big factors in particular:

  1. Device availability – One factor will be the availability of devices for consumer and enterprise segments. New 5G-enabled devices must be able to support the different use cases for 5G now emerging, and they must be able to do this at the right price.
  2. New services and business models – An equally important factor will be the new services different from 4G that will actually become available in this first wave of 5G rollout. If there is no clearly differentiated experience, consumer uptake will be limited.

Recently, some disputes have come up between countries that are leading the way in 5G development, and this has raised concerns about 5G being developed separately in different regions. Will these disputes lead to different 5G standards and regionalized 5G deployments?

This simply shows what is at stake. It points to the huge potential of 5G as a game-changing technology and the influence it will have in multiple areas of the economy and the society.

Specifically, the concern is related to the way that 5G will power a new generation of devices, including self-driving cars, energy grids, industrial robots, drones and security systems, just to name a few things. The higher speeds, lower lag times, and enormous capacities of 5G offer the potential to transform the way that vital processes, in everything from farms to factories to homes to hospitals, operate. Consequently, geopolitics has come into play, and concern has arisen that certain countries could be in a position to potentially compromise other countries’ systems and cause serious damage.  

While we haven’t seen the last act in this ongoing saga yet, in my view, any separate development of 5G technology would be highly unlikely for two reasons. First, 5G technology is so revolutionary and complex that it would be too difficult for a single party to develop a completely robust, full-fledged system in isolation. 5G development has truly spawned its own ecosystem of thousands of players involved in intricate relationships that contribute multiple pieces to make this new technology work. Second, a separate 5G system wouldn’t be cost-efficient or profitable. Any fragmentation could drastically drive up costs and affect speed to market for 5G, which would be detrimental to everyone’s interests.  

What steps is Syniverse taking this year to prepare for the latest phases of 5G development?

Syniverse has been right in the middle of 5G since its inception, and we continue to expand our services in 5G for enabling interconnection and roaming, as well as a number of other services. To this end, this year, at the mobile industry’s biggest event, Mobile World Congress Barcelona (MWC Barcelona), we made several announcements that greatly expanded our 5G capabilities:  

  1. 5G study – The capstone of our 5G announcements at MWC Barcelona was the release of a major study that looks at one of the big unknowns with 5G: How mobile operators will begin to make use of 5G to provide new services for enterprises, and how important a part these services will play in operators’ business models. To find this out, we partnered with Heavy Reading to conduct a global survey of operators and do a deep dive into better understanding their 5G preparations. The findings were surprising, and I invite you to check them out in our report, “How the 5G ecosystem will pay for itself,” which you can download here or below. We’re excited about some of the directions that we found emerging for 5G and are looking forward to sharing more on the implications of our findings for operators and enterprises this year.

Download “How the 5G ecosystem will pay for itself”

  • 5G signaling service – We also announced a new 5G service that enables mobile operators and brands to take first steps with 5G roaming and access next-generation 5G services like the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Tata Communications IPX partnership – In addition, we launched the first fully managed, end-to-end IPX network interconnection partnership in a new collaboration with Tata Communications, and one that will provide a foundation for a new level of global connectivity for 5G and other emerging technologies.
  • Open Connectivity Complete – Finally, we unveiled a new global roaming hub, called Open Connectivity Complete, that offers operators full 5G operability and instant access to comprehensive worldwide coverage.

In these ways and more, the second half of 2019 promises to be an exciting time for Syniverse in leveraging the exciting opportunities presented by 5G. We look forward to advancing our role as an experienced player in the 5G ecosystem, and to sharing more updates on our journey soon.

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