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Mobile operators are moving rapidly towards 5G deployment

In a recent survey conducted by Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network in partnership with A10 Networks, mobile service providers reported substantial progress in the deployment of commercial 5G networks, with most — 71% — claiming that they have either already begun rollouts or will do so within the next 18 months. The report, called “Toward a More Secure 5G World,” also revealed that the top three concerns for operators as they progress through their 5G plans are the cost of network build-outs (59%), security of the network (57%) and the development of new technical skills (55%).

“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,” said Dave Murray, director of thought leadership with the BPI Network. “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.”

Specifically, 45% of respondents said that their companies are “moving rapidly” towards commercial deployment, while another 23% said they are “well along” in the process. In contrast, only 13% have not begun 5G planning of any kind.

According to BPI, the percentage of mobile service providers who say their companies are “moving rapidly toward commercial deployment” has increased significantly in the past year, increasing from 26% released in early 2019 to 45 in the most recent survey.

Further, more than half of respondents — 52% — believe that the industry’s pace in 5G implementation is moving ahead rapidly in major geographic locations, while a quarter of respondents think that global 5G global progress is right in line with expectations.

While 20% said they that initial deployments are 5G Non Standalone (NSA) only, 7% said their company is going straight to Standalone (SA), and an additional 35% are proactively preparing for 5G SA.

Another key finding showed that 59% of respondents said that network virtualization is “very important” to their 5G plans, with an additional 36% saying it’s “important,” and yet only 3% have completed virtualizing their core service infrastructure. However, a combined 71% are either “well on their way to completion” or are “making good progress” when it comes to network virtualization.

Lastly, 99% rate security as important to their 5G planning, higher than even network reach and coverage or network capacity and throughput, and 97% say increased traffic, connected devices and mission-critical use case significantly increase security and reliability concerns for 5G.

“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, a provider of secure application services for mobile operators worldwide. “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 hyper-scale service-based architecture as much as possible. 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.”

—RCR Wireless News

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