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5G Perspective

5G and advanced wireless technologies – Accelerating digital adoption and innovation

We are living in the age of interconnected devices which enable human to human, machine to machine, human to machine and machine to human interactions. In this hyperconnected world, the number of networked devices is expected to reach 29.3 billion by 2023. Compare this to a population of approximately 8 billion in 2021, we are looking at 3+ devices per person. These interconnected devices shall generate data which will need to communicate back to the core thus necessitating the requirement of reliable networks with faster speeds and lower latency. Advanced wireless technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are emerging as solutions which will form the basis to enable digital communications.

In current uncertain times, organizations are accelerating digital adoption. For manufacturing setups which are usually located in far flung areas with not so good connectivity, private 5G networks or Wi-Fi 6 enabled deployments are helping manage continuity of operations. Compared to legacy networks which are complex and have limited scalability, advanced wireless technologies offer higher speeds with greater flexibility and are more open. Enterprises are thus seeing these technologies as very critical for their business.

Sensor data collected from machines is being pushed through these networks enabling decision-making and to manage operations remotely. Wearable devices and advanced surveillance devices are ensuring adherence to social distancing norms and tracking of employee health.

To leverage the benefits of digital technologies like AI, ML, big data analytics and cloud, advanced wireless technologies shall play a very important role. These technologies are also expected to help organizations create innovative and new business models with the help of symbiotic relationships with partners. An ecosystem where OEMs, enterprises, technology companies and telecom service providers are mutually dependent to deliver products and services is evolving to deliver innovative products and services. With an extended enterprise ecosystem and multiple use cases, the utilization of advanced wireless networks is expected to overtake previous generation networks in the next few years and is poised to be a top investment priority for Enterprises in India and globally.

Both 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are expected to complement each other and enhance user experience thus incentivizing simultaneous adoption and proportionate investments.

As enterprises move towards scaling up their infrastructure to adopt advanced wireless technologies, they also need to relook at the way they deploy controls to ensure that the solutions are secure and compliant to the regulations which govern the sector.

While these technologies come with advanced security features, the inherent risks arising from a large-scale technology adoption with an increased attack surface due to interconnected devices remains. Adding to the complexity is the fact that these technologies interface with other complex technologies like AI, ML etc which too are evolving which means the threat landscape is constantly changing.

Enterprises now need to start thinking on security by design approach to ensure a more secure ecosystem. What this will mean is that when enterprises design their private networks and create interfaces with say the IoT sensors to enable machine to machine communication, they will need to factor in the vulnerabilities for both the IoT layer and the 5G/Wi-Fi 6 layer.

The controls will need to be designed at the architecture level right when the design thinking happens for the use case under consideration. If there is any personal information which is being captured, then the business processes might need a rethink to ensure compliance to the privacy regulation.

The next few years are going to be exciting as advanced technologies help enterprises unlock value, enhance customer experience, and discover new business models.

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