Operator‑billed 5G connections revenue to reach $357 billion by 2025

Operator‑billed revenue from 5G connections will reach $357 billion by 2025, rising from $5 billion in 2020, its first full year of commercial service, according to Juniper Research.

5G connections revenue

By 2025, 5G revenue is anticipated to represent 44% of global operator‑billed revenue owing to rapid migration of 4G mobile subscribers to 5G networks and new business use cases enabled by 5G technology.

However, the study identified 5G networks roll-outs as highly resilient to the COVID-19 pandemic. It found that supply chain disruptions caused by the initial pandemic period have been mitigated through modified physical roll-out procedures, in order to maintain the momentum of hardware deployments.

5G connections to generate 250% more revenue than average cellular connection

The study found that 5G uptake had surpassed initial expectations, predicting total 5G connections will surpass 1.5 billion by 2025. It also forecast that the average 5G connection will generate 250% more revenue than an average cellular connection by 2025.

To secure a return on investment into new services, such as uRLLC (Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication) and network slicing, enabled by 5G, operators will apply this premium pricing for 5G connections.

However, these services alongside the high-bandwidth capabilities of 5G will create data-intensive use cases that lead to a 270% growth in data traffic generated by all cellular connections over the next five years.

Networks must increase virtualisation to handle 5G data traffic

Operators must use future launches of standalone 5G network as an opportunity to further increase virtualisation in core networks. Failure to develop 5G network architectures that handle increasing traffic will lead to reduced network functionality, inevitably leading to a diminished value proposition of its 5G network amongst end users.

Research author Sam Barker remarked: “Operators will compete on 5G capabilities, in terms of bandwidth and latency. A lesser 5G offering will lead to user churn to competing networks and missed opportunities in operators’ fastest-growing revenue stream.”

Expansion opportunities in the next-generation wireless BSS market

Business support systems (BSS) are necessary to provide the fast-changing requirements in 5G and enhance customer experiences, a Frost & Sullivan research reveals.

BSS market

They also help communication service providers (CSPs) deliver personalized service experiences for consumers and businesses.

BSS market could experience a slowdown

Vendors have introduced advanced BSS features, including the ability to support flexible deployments (core and edge) and options for network slice lifecycle management, which are critical in helping CSPs deliver on multi-partner business models.

However, due to COVID-19, the global BSS market is estimated to experience a slowdown in the short term, whereas the long-term outlook remains positive.

“It is evident that BSS can significantly drive efforts to help organizations address key concerns such as introducing digital services and enabling customers to personalize their service experience,” said Vikrant Gandhi, Senior Industry Director, Information & Communication Technologies at Frost & Sullivan.

“However, businesses from across many other industry verticals are still relatively early in their digitization efforts and are facing issues similar to those of CSPs in the early days of their digital transformation efforts.”

Gandhi added: “Given the evolving situation, it is more critical than ever for wireless networks to function reliably and support the connectivity requirements across the board. BSS vendors are supporting existing 4G (and earlier generations) network services that currently drive the majority of their revenue.

“Going forward, while the wireless industry remains a priority for BSS vendors, they are also able to align BSS solutions to meet the needs of communications, financial services, healthcare, and media and entertainment companies, as well as government entities.”

BSS vendors can partner with CSPs to create immense growth prospects

  • Pioneer new price plans and partner-based business models such as B2B, B2C, and B2B2X for 5G success.
  • Introduce AI-driven BSS and customer experience solutions that help CSPs deliver differentiated 5G services.
  • Leverage cloud-native principles and support flexible deployments (core and edge) to help operators monetize different features of the network and create new opportunities.
  • Implement a robust 5G policy that can set performance characteristics, including quality of service (QoS) and latency. With 5G, the policy can control networks and services down to the device level to ensure the best customer experience while managing valuable network resources.

Ongoing and initial costs top list of barriers to 5G implementation

5G is set to deliver higher data transfer rates for mission-critical communications and will allow massive broadband capacities, enabling high-speed communication across various applications such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence.

barriers 5G implementation

According to a study from CommScope, only 46% of respondents feel their current network infrastructure is capable of supporting 5G, but 68% think 5G will have a significant impact on their agency operations within one to four years.

Of the respondents who do not feel their current infrastructure is capable of supporting 5G, none have deployed 5G, 19% are piloting, 43% are planning to pilot, and 52% are not planning or evaluating whether to pilot 5G.

Costs reported as top barriers to 5G implementation

According to the report, ongoing and initial costs are reported as top barriers for federal agencies wishing to implement 5G – 44% believe initial/up-front costs will be the biggest barrier and 49% are concerned about ongoing costs.

“There is no single approach to 5G and no one-size-fits-all 5G solution,” said Chris Collura, vice president, Federal business for CommScope.

“This study indicates that federal agencies are at the beginning stages of 5G evaluation and deployment. As they are looking to finalize their strategy for connectivity, agencies should also consider private networks, whether those are private LTE networks, private 5G networks, or a migration from one to the other to ensure flexibility and scalability.”

Desired outcomes for federal agencies

Remote employee productivity (40%) is one of the top desired outcomes for federal agencies looking to implement 5G, along with introducing high bandwidth (39%), higher throughput (39%) and better connectivity (38%).

Additional findings from the study include:

  • 32% hope that 5G will make it easier to share information securely and 32% would like to see easier access to data
  • 82% plan to or have already adopted 5G with 6% having already deployed 5G, 14% piloting 5G and 62% evaluating/planning to pilot 5G
  • 71% are looking at hardware, software or endpoint upgrades to support 5G
  • 83% believe it is very/somewhat important for mission-critical traffic on the agency network to remain onsite while 64% feel it is very/somewhat important

Five critical success factors for the 5G economy

Policymakers should focus on five critical success factors in order to ensure the US continues to build its emerging 5G economy, according to a report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

5G economy

Drawing on an in-depth analysis of the factors that secured America’s leadership of the 4G economy, the study concludes that spectrum availability and wireless network deployments, along with broader economic factors such as a pro-investment and innovation business climate, private sector R&D, and workforce readiness are key to expanding a country’s 5G penetration rate and 5G-powered economic growth.

“A country’s 5G progress shouldn’t be based on misleading snapshots in time such as the number of 5G subscribers or the amount of 5G base stations deployed in a given quarter,” said Enrique Duarte Melo, a BCG managing director and senior partner and lead author of the report.

“Policymakers should instead look at how these factors—network coverage, spectrum availability, the quality of the innovation ecosystem, business climate, and technology talent—will blend together to drive 5G penetration and make 5G use cases widely available throughout society.”

Spectrum availability

Spectrum is the foundation of mobile wireless service, and particularly for 5G networks, providers need a mix of low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum.

The study finds that the US has made significant amounts of low- and high-band spectrum available, but lags in crucial midband spectrum.

Networks

Widespread network deployment is critical to laying the foundations of a 5G economy and achieving high levels of wireless penetration—the number of active 5G subscribers per capita.

The study finds that US telecom companies have invested seven times more than Chinese companies and that from 2020 to 2025, US operators are expected to invest over $250 billion to build 5G networks, more than any other country.

Innovation ecosystem

Strong R&D investment and IP protection will help spur the development of innovative new 5G services as well as cross-industry collaboration.

The study finds that US technology and telecom companies spend significantly more on R&D, as a percentage of sales, than other global competitors. On an absolute basis, US wireless companies invest five times as much as Chinese companies.

Business climate

Capital expenditures and investment and an openness to risk-taking, combined with business-friendly policies, will create an environment conducive to wireless innovation and entrepreneurship.

The study finds that the US ranks in the top three nations on key drivers of new business creation and ranks first for entrepreneurship. It’s also home to 12 of the world’s top 30 cities for startups and serves as a startup hub for key 5G technologies like artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

Talent

A workforce with digital and technical skills will provide countries the expertise to build state-of-the-art wireless networks and develop new 5G applications.

The study finds that the US’s ability to attract the best global talent has promoted innovation and that training and retraining employees in tech-related certifications and degrees will be critical.

Further, the study finds that that the foremost impact of 5G will be the services and applications unlocked by powerful and ubiquitous 5G networks.

Emerging countries will adopt 5G faster than expected

Emerging markets have always been behind developed countries in adopting the latest generation mobile networks, with a few exceptions. While it would be safe to assume that emerging markets would also lag in 5G adoption, global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research, finds that emerging countries will have faster than expected 5G subscriber adoption.

emerging countries 5G adoption

The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5G subscriptions in emerging markets is estimated to be 26% between 2020 to 2030, an impressive rate considering the global CAGR of 5G subscriptions is only a slightly higher 28% in the same period.

“The pace of the 5G rollout in emerging markets will be expedited by a combination of regulatory enablement, enabling technologies, such as edge computing and OpenRAN (ORAN), and the broader use cases that 5G brings forward,” explains Miguel Castaneda, Industry Analyst at ABI Research.

Contributing factors spurring emerging countries’ 5G adoption

The underlying impediments on nationwide 5G deployment in emerging countries are based on the capital-intensive 5G infrastructure and the declining financial health of the emerging markets’ telecommunications sector. These factors are compounded when considering the additional logistical and financial factors for countries such as Vietnam or Thailand that have larger rural populations. Operators in these countries need to exhaust all options that can help alleviate the financial burden of 5G rollout.

Emerging countries should also pay heed to factors that contribute to the growing impetus of 5G rollouts. Changing consumer demographics, the proliferation of smartphone usage, and affordable 5G devices have spurred an exponential increase in emerging countries’ data consumption.

Despite having a rural population of around 65%, ABI Research forecasts India’s mobile data traffic, based on 1.2 billion subscribers, to balloon to 160.4 Exabytes by 2025. This figure exceeds the combined mobile data traffic of developed countries like South Korea, United Kingdom, and Germany in the same year, which is 159.7 Exabytes. “Emerging countries that strongly rely on agriculture or manufacturing production would also stand to benefit from the digital transformation capabilities of 5G enterprise,” Castaneda points out.

This surge in data consumption, device affordability, and potential of broader use cases should therefore prompt regulators and operators in adopting proactive strategies in establishing their respective 5G networks. Countries such as India and Vietnam are building their own 5G ecosystem through local telecommunication and software vendors.

Developments and innovations in fixed wireless access (FWA) create more financial incentives for 5G rollout into rural regions and helps governments in emerging markets to fulfill their national coverage plans. 5G-enabling technologies such as distributed edge computing, the ORAN initiative, and network slicing have given emerging countries more tools in accelerating the pace of a more digitalized economy.

Regulators also play a critical role as they can initiate enabling policies and initiatives to improve the business case of 5G rollout for financially strapped operators in these emerging countries.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the social fabric and economic activities of our countries, emerging markets are constantly reminded of the importance of a connected world. 5G will address the issue of supply chain resiliency and provide new business models in enterprises. These deployments can serve as a great complementary technology for key national initiatives, such as the Thailand 4.0 Smart City Initiative, India’s Smart City Mission, and the Vision of Indonesia 2045,” Castaneda concludes.

Are today’s organizations ready for the data age?

67% of business and IT managers expect the sheer quantity of data to grow nearly five times by 2025, a Splunk survey reveals.

data age

The research shows that leaders see the significant opportunity in this explosion of data and believe data is extremely or very valuable to their organization in terms of: overall success (81%), innovation (75%) and cybersecurity (78%).

81% of survey respondents believe data to be very or highly valuable yet 57% fear that the volume of data is growing faster than their organizations’ ability to keep up.

“The aata age is here. We can now quantify how data is taking center stage in industries around the world. As this new research demonstrates, organizations understand the value of data, but are overwhelmed by the task of adjusting to the many opportunities and threats this new reality presents,” said Doug Merritt, President and CEO, Splunk.

“There are boundless opportunities for organizations willing to quickly learn and adapt, embrace new technologies and harness the power of data.”

The data age has been accelerated by emerging technologies powered by, and contributing to, exponential data growth. Chief among these emerging technologies are Edge Computing, 5G networking, IoT, AI/ML, AR/VR and Blockchain.

It’s these very same technologies 49% of those surveyed expect to use to harness the power of data, but across technologies, on average, just 42% feel they have high levels of understanding of all six.

Data is valuable, and data anxiety is real

To thrive in this new age, every organization needs a complete view of its data — real-time insight, with the ability to take real-time action. But many organizations feel overwhelmed and unprepared. The study quantifies the emergence of a data age as well as the recognition that organizations have some work to do in order to use data effectively and be successful.

  • Data is extremely or very valuable to organizations in terms of: overall success (81%), innovation (75%) and cybersecurity (78%).
  • And yet, 66% of IT and business managers report that half or more of their organizations’ data is dark (untapped, unknown, unused) — a 10% increase over the previous year.
  • 57% say the volume of data is growing faster than their organizations’ ability to keep up.
  • 47% acknowledge their organizations will fall behind when faced with rapid data volume growth.

Some industries are more prepared than others

The study quantifies the emergence of a data age and the adoption of emerging technologies across industries, including:

  • Across industries, IoT has the most current users (but only 28%). 5G has the fewest and has the shortest implementation timeline at 2.6 years.
  • Confidence in understanding of 5G’s potential varies: 59% in France, 62% in China and only 24% in Japan.
  • For five of the six technologies, financial services leads in terms of current development of use cases. Retail comes second in most cases, though retailers lag notably in adoption of AI.
  • 62% of healthcare organizations say that half or more of their data is dark and that they struggle to manage and leverage data.
  • The public sector lags commercial organizations in adoption of emerging technologies.
  • Manufacturing leaders predict growth in data volume (78%) than in any other industry; 76% expect the value of data to continue to rise.

Some countries are more prepared than others

The study also found that countries seen as technology leaders, like the U.S. and China, are more likely to be optimistic about their ability to harness the opportunities of the data age.

  • 90% of business leaders from China expect the value of data to grow. They are by far the most optimistic about the impact of emerging technologies, and they are getting ready. 83% of Chinese organizations are prepared, or are preparing, for rapid data growth compared to just 47% across all regions.
  • U.S. leaders are the second most confident in their ability to prepare for rapid data growth, with 59% indicating that they are at least somewhat confident.
  • In France, 59% of respondents say that no one in their organization is having conversations about the impact of the data age. Meanwhile, in Japan 67% say their organization is struggling to stay up to date, compared to the global average of 58%.
  • U.K. managers report relatively low current usage of emerging technologies but are optimistic about plans to use them in the future. For example, just 19% of U.K. respondents say they are currently using AI/ML technologies, but 58% say they will use them in the near future.

Recommendations to enhance subscriber privacy in 5G

There are clear benefits of 5G SIM capabilities to protect the most prominent personal data involved in mobile communications, according to the Trusted Connectivity Alliance.

subscriber privacy 5G

Addressing privacy risks

The IMSI, known as a Subscription Permanent Identifier (SUPI) in 5G, is the unique identifier allocated to an individual SIM by an MNO. Despite representing highly personal information, the IMSI is exposed to significant security vulnerabilities as it is sent unencrypted over-the-air in 2G, 3G and 4G technologies.

Most notably, ‘IMSI catchers’ are readily and inexpensively available and can be used to illegally monitor a subscriber’s location, calls and messages.

“To address the significant privacy risks posed by IMSI catchers, the 5G standards introduced the possibility for MNOs to encrypt the IMSI before it is sent over-the-air,” comments Claus Dietze, Chair of Trusted Connectivity Alliance.

“But as the standards state that encryption can be performed either by the SIM or by the device, and even be deactivated, there is potential for significant variability in terms of implementation. This creates scenarios where the IMSI is not sufficiently protected and the subscriber’s personal data is potentially exposed.”

Managing IMSI encryption within the 5G SIM

Given these scenarios, the white paper recommends that MNOs consider limiting the available implementation options to rely on proven, certified solutions. Of the available options, executing IMSI encryption within the 5G SIM, which refers to both the SIM or eSIM as defined by Trusted Connectivity Alliance as the Recommended 5G SIM, emerges as a comprehensive solution when examined against a range of key criteria. This includes ownership and control, the security of the SIM and its production process, and certification and interoperability.

“Eurosmart fully supports the Trusted Connectivity Alliance position on subscriber privacy encryption, and agrees it should be managed within the 5G SIM. If we consider the direct impact on the security and resilience of critical infrastructures and essential services, and the requirements of the NIS directives, it is also apparent that a robust regulatory response is warranted to support these recommendations,” adds Philippe Proust, President of Eurosmart.

“We therefore contend that regulatory measures should be implemented to define an ad hoc security certification scheme addressing IMSI encryption within the 5G SIM under the EU Cybersecurity Act. In addition, it should be a requirement for the IMSI to be encrypted within the 5G SIM, and for the 5G SIM to be mandatorily security certified to demonstrate its capabilities.”

Claus concludes: “Managing IMSI encryption within the 5G SIM delivers control, best-in-class security and interoperability to prevent malicious and unlawful interception. And with 5G creating a vast array of new use-cases, SIM-based encryption is the only viable way to establish interoperability across emerging consumer and industrial IoT use-cases and, ultimately, enable a secure connected future.”

Private, unlicensed 5G mobile network adoption may intensify NetOps and SecOps challenges

While 5G sometimes seems like the panacea for just about everything, it will likely intensify the already common friction between NetOps and SecOps teams that will take part in deployments and operations of the 5G mobile network. Besides faster speeds, lower latency, greater coverage and ultra-reliable mobile services across new radio spectrums, 5G brings tectonic changes in mobile architecture and enables totally novel applications with highly complex requirements.

One of the major changes in 5G architecture is the virtualization and network slicing that makes NetOps and SecOps monitoring and control even more challenging. Even the idea of fully understanding a network and all that it includes becomes more difficult and perplexing.

Additionally, a likely surge in the use of IoT devices and mission-critical applications demanding low latency communications adds complexity and complications. These challenges apply to both security and networking. Specifically, the threat surface will be increased as more devices will be connected to more cells.

Just to highlight the tip of the iceberg, we need to consider the fact that some IoT devices likely have lower security capabilities and are even subject to physical security risks as many small cells that will be used indoors and outdoors on lights, signs, storage areas and other infrastructure. Some of these may be cameras, proximity sensors and other kinds of detectors.

As a result, NetOps and SecOps teams will need greater network visibility, assessment tools and security measures. Most of all, teams will need a far greater level of agility to stay ahead of such dynamic changes, both to the network itself, the traffic utilizing it, and the connected elements that can start from machine to machine elements, such as operational technology sensors and controllers, and go far beyond to augmented reality applications.

These new conditions aggravate the traditional networking and security challenges and threaten to intensify the friction between the organizations. 5G standardization has an enhanced security framework over 4G, but there are various new implementations and complexities of design, and NetOps and SecOps teams need to come together to achieve greater agility and accommodate changes and challenges to their new mobile networks more quickly and more efficiently. Today’s means of resolving these differences need to evolve, as teams are already overworked and under-staffed and generally slow in making or accommodating changes to the network.

In new 5G deployments, there will be two options for enterprises:

1. Connect to a public 5G mobile network that’s owned and operated by a mobile operator.

2. Deploy and operate its own private 5G network with non-licensed radio spectrum, known as 3GPP release 16. This is a new standard that will be a new alternative to Wi-Fi and LTE networks with special purpose-build requirements for private industrial networks. This mode can be operated as an outsourced deployment or using a consultancy service or a “build it yourself” model that will probably be more feasible for companies as the technology matures.

5G mobile network adoption

Many large industrial and manufacturing enterprises with mega-sites or even multiple sites that will require private mobile interconnections, will select the second option to enable their mobile private communications and reduce dependencies with more control to adapt the mobile network to their business processes and special requirements. Some of the most attractive 5G use cases will justify this trend and will streamline a digital transformation of old industries that are still lagging behind.

Being in control of quality, coverage and operational requirements will drive internal teams to collaborate based on corporate directives and foster security measures on people, processes and connected elements and applications. Organizations putting a premium on security will push enterprises to lean towards private 5G enterprise networks because of the complete segregation it offers. Since 5G slicing that is performed on a public network might share the same physical infrastructure with virtual slices that logically separate customers, sharing the same physical infrastructure by multiple customers will be still a valid concern.

New forms of network virtualization brought by 5G – and specifically private 5G – present new requirements for monitoring, management and security. In particular, the dynamic nature of creating a new slice or segmentation in a mission-critical environment, seemingly out of the blue, or reverting back or changing existing ones calls for constant vigilance. The rise of virtualized computing presented its challenges to security, and new solutions and practices arose to meet them. In much the same way, these virtualized networking practices will create new security challenges and solutions.

5G network slicing is a paramount challenge and operational teams will need to collaborate on having clear procedures that impact both mobile and wireline infrastructure. Additionally, new technology adaption takes time and requires careful planning to inspect various dynamic scenarios that not necessarily known before.

As 5G unlicensed networking will be adapted gradually by the enterprise as a private 5G local area network, it’s hard to know what changes to plan for, so the best planning must be in the form of creating far more streamlined NetOps and SecOps teams that can work together under the same corporate directives to accomplish business objectives and insure top security posture.

This is a new paradigm shift for Enterprise to adopt novel mobile technology and accelerate digital transformation. Organizations will gain new, important capabilities, but they will also be presented with new challenges. Embracing these factors requires evolving from old ways of distancing NetOps and SecOps with opposing roles to more co-team relationships where both can work together more effectively.

Multi-access edge computing market to reach $7.23 billion by 2024

Edge computing is a foundational technology for industrial enterprises as it offers shorter latencies, robust security, responsive data collection, and lower costs, Frost & Sullivan finds.

multi-access edge computing market

In this hyper-connected industrial environment, edge computing, with its solution-agnostic attribute, can be used across various applications, such as autonomous assets, remote asset monitoring, data extraction from stranded assets, autonomous robotics, autonomous vehicles, and smart factories.

Multi-access edge computing market growth rate and revenue

Despite being in a nascent stage, the multi-access edge computing (MEC) market – an edge computing commercial offering from operators in wireless networks – is estimated to grow at an astounding compound annual growth rate of 157.4%, garnering a revenue of $7.23 billion by 2024 from $64.1 million in 2019.

“The recent launch of the 5G technology coupled with MEC brings computing power close to customers and also allows the emergence of new applications and experiences for them,” said Renato Pasquini, Information & Communication Technologies Research Director at Frost & Sullivan.

“Going forward, 5G and MEC are an opportunity for telecom operators to launch innovative offerings and also enable an ecosystem to flourish in the business-to-business (B2B) segment of telecom service providers using the platform.”

Pasquini added: “From the perspective of the MEC ecosystem, software—edge application and solutions—promises the highest CAGR followed by services—telecom operators’ services, cloud providers’ infrastructure-as-a-service, and edge data center colocation services.”

Growth prospects for MEC market participants

It is predicted that approximately 90% of industrial enterprises will utilize edge computing by 2022, presenting immense growth prospects for MEC market participants, including:

  • Telecom operators should work on solutions and services to meet the requirements for connected and autonomous cars.
  • System integrators should provide end-to-end solutions, which would be a significant value addition for enterprises because 5G requires specific skillsets.
  • The combination of 5G and the new specialized hardware-based mobile edge compute technologies can meet the market’s streaming media needs now and in the future.
  • Telecom operators must partner with cloud providers and companies with abilities related to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computer vision to design solutions for autonomous cars, drone delivery, and others.
  • Companies in the MEC space must capitalize on the opportunity for innovation and new developments that utilize 5G and MEC, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), which can also be applied to games.

People work more while at home, but worry about data security

A global research report by Lenovo highlights the triumphs, challenges and the consequences of the sudden shift to work-from-home (WFH) during the COVID-19 pandemic and how companies and their IT departments can power the new era of working remotely that will follow.

WFH pandemic

The study looks at how employees worldwide are responding to the “new normal” after 72 percent of those surveyed confirmed a shift in their daily work dynamic in the last three months. Employees feel more connected and more productive than ever before as they WFH, but the data shows financial, physical and emotional downsides for the global workforce.

“This data gave us valuable insights on the complex relationship employees have with technology as work and personal are becoming more intertwined with the increase in working from home,” commented Dilip Bhatia, Vice President of Global User and Customer Experience at Lenovo.

“Respondents globally feel more reliant on their work computers and more productive but have concerns about data security and want their companies to invest in more tech training. We’re using these takeaways to improve the development of our smart technology and better empower remote workers of tomorrow.”

Productivity, connectivity, and IT independence increase

Survey respondents around the world are embracing working away from the office – yet feel more connected to their devices than ever as the ‘office’ becomes wherever their technology is.

  • Eighty-five percent of those surveyed feel more reliant on their work PCs (laptops and/or desktop computer) than they did working from the office.
  • 63 percent of the global workforce surveyed feel they are more productive working from home than when they were in the office.
  • Fifty-two percent of respondents believe they will continue to WFH more than they did pre-COVID-19 – even after social distancing measures lift.

This new confidence in working remotely has increased organizations’ need for customizable, modern IT solutions to be deployed at scale. Seventy-nine percent of participants agree that they have had to be their own IT person while working from home, and a majority of those surveyed believe employers should invest in more tech training to power WFH in the future.

WFH during the pandemic: Productivity can come with downsides

In such a quick, dramatic shift to WFH that the pandemic brought on, workers say they have had to make personal investments on tech when their employers have not.

  • Seven-in-ten employees surveyed globally said they purchased new technology to navigate working remotely
  • Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed have had to partially or fully fund their own tech upgrades
  • US respondents say they have personally spent an average of $348 to upgrade or improve technology while working at home due to COVID-19 – roughly $70 higher than the global average ($273), and the second-highest among 10 markets surveyed

New ways of working have also brought on a set of literal aches and pains. Seventy-one percent of workers surveyed complain of new or worsening conditions, including headaches, back and neck pains, difficulty sleeping and more.

Having a proper WFH setup is important to minimizing discomfort, including proper furniture and a larger-sized external monitor that can ergonomically adjust to natural eye-level.

Making time for breaks is also important since many built-in workday breaks for office workers (stretching, getting up to get coffee, going out for lunch, etc.) occur in different rhythms while working remotely.

Along with physical ailments, workers around the world identified other top challenges to the WFH experience: reduced personal connections with coworkers, an inability to separate work life from home life, and finding it hard to concentrate during work hours due to distractions at home.

Training and implementation of high-quality video conferencing capabilities such as noise-cancelling headphones and webcams on the work PC, tablet or phone can help employees feel more connected with colleagues and feeling less distracted at home.

Naturally as technology has powered WFH around the world, surveyed workers also expressed overall concerns overall around security and being heavily reliant on tech connectivity to get the job done.

Employees of all ages agree their top tech-specific concern is how it makes their companies more vulnerable to data breaches. As a result, enhanced security will need to be built into employees’ hardware, software and services (including deployment, set-up and maintenance) from the get-go and is especially critical within today’s remote work environment.

The study also offers important guidance to employers around the world to embrace the new technology normal beyond the pandemic and into the future.

Flexibility isn’t just expected, it’s required

Overall, surveyed employees globally expressed mixed feelings about work in a post-COVID world – while some employees expressed being happy (27 percent) and excited (21 percent) about working from home forever, others feel neutral (22 percent) and conflicted (17 percent).

In light of this, it is more important than ever to give employees flexibility and the required tech to WFH so they don’t have to spend their own money on tech upgrades for work.

Tech should facilitate balance, collaboration, multi-tasking

Although most respondents say tech makes them efficient and more productive, employees identified other ways that tech could improve to help them gain an advantage at work:

  • Help them better maintain work life balance
  • Make it easier for employees to collaborate with others at outside companies and organizations
  • Assist with multi-tasking and switching gears between projects more frequently
  • Automate some of their daily tasks

More 5G, please!

Although emerging technologies may have been a new subject in the past, employees are now expressing excitement about the role it plays in improving the WFH experience.

When asked which emerging technologies would have the most positive impact on their job within the next few years, employees ranked 5G wireless network technology and AI/ML as their top choices.

When implementing these technologies, companies should seek employee input on where these can make the most impact within their jobs. 5G provides a strong and more secure connection while giving employees the ability to move around, while AI can help automate routine responsibilities.

A majority of employees have also expressed they are hopeful that emerging technologies can help improve work/life balance.

Despite COVID-19, 5G progress in connections and deployments continues

5G progress in connections and deployments continues despite the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn according to 5G Americas.

5G progress

According to data from Omdia, there are now over 63.6 million 5G connections globally as of Q1 2020, which represents 308.66% growth over Q4 2019.

Chris Pearson, President, 5G Americas said, “Globally, 5G remains the fast-growing generation of wireless cellular technology ever, even as the world is gripped with a pandemic. In North America, we are seeing consistent, strong uptake of new 5G subscribers as new devices have been released that can take advantage of low-band and millimeter wave frequencies. At the same time, new network capabilities are being added.”

The impact of COVID-19

Globally, there are now 82 5G commercial networks, a number which is expected to more than double to 206 by the end of 2020. In addition, there are now over 100 commercial 5G device models available globally, with increasing support for low-band, mid-band and millimeter (mmWave) frequency bands.

Despite global strength in the number of 5G network rollouts, regional differences are beginning to emerge due to the localized impacts of the pandemic.

According to Jose Otero, Vice President of Latin America and Caribbean, 5G Americas, “The impact of COVID-19 is finally being felt Latin America’s and Caribbean’s telecom industry. The decrease in remittances arriving from Europe and North America together with the mandatory lockdowns imposed by many regional governments decreased the purchasing power of a large percentage of the population.”

5G connections by region

Regionally by the end of Q1 2020, North America had 1.18 million 5G connections and 494 million LTE connections. This amounted to 100% growth in 5G, a gain of 591 thousand 5G connections over the quarter and 2.34% growth in LTE, a gain of 11.3 million LTE connections over the quarter.

For Latin America and the Caribbean, Q1 2020 saw 3004 5G subscriptions (142.85% Q4 2019 to Q1 2020 growth) and 372 million LTE subscriptions (3% Q4 2019 to Q1 2020 growth), respectively.

Looking ahead, 5G connections are projected to reach 238 million globally by the end of 2020, of which North America will account for 10 million connections. According to Kristin Paulin, Senior Analyst at Omdia, “We expect growth to pick up in the second half of the year, following the easing of lockdowns as well as continued 5G network expansion and the availability of more 5G devices.”

Latin America and the Caribbean will account for an additional 270 thousand connections by the end of the year. Global 4G LTE connections remain strong and are expected to reach 5.7 billion, of which 506 million (4.8% annual growth) will come from North America and 404 million (11.8% annual growth) will come from Latin America and the Caribbean.

To minimize the impact of the pandemic, some governments in Latin America and the Caribbean have made adjustments to communications services taxes and terms.

In addition, Otero says “The lack of devices due to global logistic obstacles has resulted in negative subscriber growth and slower uptake of newer technologies. It is expected that until the situation normalizes all spectrum assignment processes would be delayed and that no new networks would be launched during this period.”

5G progress: Connections by numbers

Overall, the following number of networks using wireless technologies have been deployed as of June 15, 2020.

Global:

  • 5G: 82
  • LTE Advanced: 328
  • LTE: 677

North America:

  • 5G: 7
  • LTE Advanced: 9
  • LTE: 20

Latin America & Caribbean:

  • 5G: 5
  • LTE Advanced: 50
  • LTE: 127

5G subscriptions to top 190 million this year, 2.8 billion by the end of 2025

The global number of 5G subscriptions to top 190 million by the end of 2020 and 2.8 billion by the end of 2025, according to a report by Ericsson.

5G subscriptions

The report also takes an incisive look at the role of networks and digital infrastructure in keeping societies running and families connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The spread of COVID-19 has prompted people all over the world to change their daily lives and, in many cases, work or study from home. This has led to a rapid shift of network traffic from business to residential areas,” says Fredrik Jejdling, Executive VP and Head of Networks, Ericsson.

While 5G subscription growth in some markets has slowed as a result of the pandemic, this is outweighed by other markets where it is accelerating.

“Beyond measuring the success of 5G in subscriptions, its impact ultimately will be judged by the benefits it brings to people and enterprises,” Jejdling adds. “5G was made for innovation and this crisis has highlighted the true value of connectivity and the role it can play in restarting economies.”

Value of digital infrastructure

Changes in behavior due to lockdown restrictions have caused measurable changes in the usage of both fixed and mobile networks. The largest share of the traffic increase has been absorbed by fixed residential networks, which has experienced a 20-100 percent growth. But many service providers also noticed a spike in demand on their mobile network.

In a recent study, 83 percent of the respondents from 11 countries claim that ICT helped them a lot to cope with the lockdown. The results show an increased adoption and usage of ICT services, such as e-learning and wellness apps, that have helped consumers adapt to new realities, underpinned by connectivity.

Looking ahead, while 57 percent say they will save money for financial security, one-third plan to invest in 5G and an improved broadband at home to be better prepared for a potential second wave of COVID-19.

5G subscriptions

FWA takes an expanded role

FWA connections are forecast to reach nearly 160 million by end of 2025 – totaling about 25 percent of global mobile network data traffic. At the end of 2019, global FWA data traffic was estimated to have been around 15 percent of the global total. It is now projected to grow nearly 8 fold to reach 53 exabytes in 2025, representing 25 percent of the global total mobile network data traffic.

FWA delivered over 4G or 5G is an increasingly cost-efficient alternative for providing broadband and several factors are driving the FWA market: demand from consumers and businesses for digital services along with government-sponsored programs and subsidies.

5G adoption, security and worldwide market trends

With 5G adoption ramping up all over the world, we sat down with Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas, to learn more about the current 5G landscape.

5G Americas is an industry trade organization composed of leading telecommunications service providers and manufacturers like Samsung, AT&T, Intel, Ericsson, Qualcomm and T-Mobile.

5G adoption

What’s your take on the current global progress towards 5G?

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, 5G continues to progress at a robust pace in terms of deployments and subscribers and I am optimistic this will continue throughout 2020. I feel great about the progress and situationally, network operators are quickly moving ahead with 5G network deployments. We expect to see the start of transitions toward 5G stand-alone networks during the latter half of 2020 and into 2021.

The pandemic has slowed some work on 5G standards for 3GPP Releases 16 and 17 by around three months so far, but this has not delayed operator progress in most parts of the world. From a supply chain standpoint, I see just a small bit of concern regarding some equipment delivery delays by equipment vendors but for the most part 5G is moving along well.

5G adoption

3GPP timeline for Release 15, 16, and 17

All told, 5G is currently the fastest growing generation of wireless cellular technology, with the quickest time to reach the current number of subscribers. There are currently 74 5G commercial deployments globally and that number is expected to increase to 200 by the end of the year.

Worldwide, 5G subscriptions are currently at 90 million as of Q1 2020 and that is expected to grow to over 258 million connections by the end of 2020.

Is security taken into consideration from the start?

Yes, security was always a consideration for the start for 5G as the technology addresses new use cases. In fact, security in mobile wireless cellular communications has always been critically important and that commitment carries through into 5G.

For instance, 3GPP, an international organization that sets 5G standards, has created new 5G security protocols that include enhancements for encryption, mutual authentication, integrity protection, privacy and availability. These enhancements make improvements throughout the network, targeting the user plane, control plane and management traffic with a variety of improvements.

Where do you see the most significant 5G investments being made? When can we expect for 5G to become truly mainstream?

The largest investments and commitments to 5G are being made in the United States and also the Asia-Pacific region. Wireless operators in the U.S., China, Japan and Korea are deploying 5G technology at a rapid pace for their customers.

From an investment standpoint, most operators are investing in deploying 5G and various low, mid and high spectrum bands. Thus, primary investment is targeted at 5G Radio Access Networks infrastructure. Within 5G networks, we see strong continued investment across a variety of areas such as 5G RAN, 5G Core Network), increased virtualization and cloudification of network cores, and mobile edge networks.

5G becomes very mainstream in many parts of the world in 2021. 5G is already a commercial reality with growing coverage and from an adoption standpoint and it will continue to grow toward mainstream as deployments increase and 5G devices become mass market.

Worldwide by year end 2020 there will be over 258 million 5G connections. You will see a strong ramp by year end 2023, when there will be over 1 billion connections worldwide and over 200 million in North America. This is where the log curve of adoption will take hold.

5G adoption

Looking at initial launches, what do you see as the biggest 5G network deployment challenges?

In the U.S. there are two key ingredients for 5G commercial deployment success: exclusive use licensed spectrum and network density. In terms of spectrum, the U.S. mobile wireless industry is in need of much larger amounts of exclusive use licensed spectrum, particularly in the mid-bands, due to its coverage and capacity capabilities.

While the US has been a leader in allocating mmWave high band spectrum, we should harmonize our spectrum bands with other nations that lead in 5G who have made mid-band spectrum available for their citizens. In terms of network density, the U.S. needs more streamlined cell siting processes across federal, state, and local jurisdictions in order to more quickly ramp up cell sites.

5G is going to bring a surge in traffic, with mission-critical use cases dominating at first. What are the most significant reliability and security concerns?

5G was created and standardized with a network architecture to address three families of use cases including enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine to machine communications and ultra-reliable and low latency critical communications. 5G is built right from the ground up with a great security foundation, including improvements such as a Unified Authentication framework, User privacy protection, Secure Service-Based Architecture and improved rogue base station detection and mitigation to name a few.

There are several areas relating to security that impact 5G wireless networks:

1. 5G wireless technology significantly differs from previous wireless generations, creating novel avenues of attack, as the entire network is being re-architected to use software-defined networking and service-based architecture, including network slicing.

2. 5G non-standalone networks operate 5G radio access networks (RANs) and 4G LTE or LTE Advanced “Evolved Packet Cores” (EPC), so LTE threats and vulnerabilities will still exist in 5G NSA networks. These attacks can include, but are not limited to:

  • 2G/3G downgrade attacks that force LTE connected devices to 2G or 3G with significantly less security controls
  • IMSI tracking that compromises the general public’s sensitive information and privacy
  • Man-in-the-middle attacks that threaten security between the server and user equipment (UE), though threat to customer privacy is limited
  • LTE roaming that depends on SS7 and Diameter protocols with security vulnerabilities that have been the focus of attacks for years, despite adding firewalls (also subject to a cross-protocol attacks)

Security and reliability are important elements of the success of the technology, and the challenge is understanding the surface area for threats grows as networks increase in complexity. However, I am extremely optimistic the technology is ready for the challenge.

A math formula could help 5G networks efficiently share communications frequencies

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a mathematical formula that, computer simulations suggest, could help 5G and other wireless networks select and share communications frequencies about 5,000 times more efficiently than trial-and-error methods. NIST engineer Jason Coder makes mathematical calculations for a machine learning formula that may help 5G and other wireless networks select and share communications frequencies efficiently The novel formula is a form of machine learning that … More

The post A math formula could help 5G networks efficiently share communications frequencies appeared first on Help Net Security.

Operators rethinking security while making rapid progress toward 5G

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 5G

Progress includes steady work toward virtualizing core network functions and a reexamination of the security investments they will need to protect their networks and customers.

COVID-19 is not expected to significantly delay the progress of 5G deployments, according to a global study report, 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.

Adding standalone 5G

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 9 percent say their companies will move directly to standalone.

Standalone 5G will require a whole new network core utilizing a cloud-native, virtualized, service-based architecture. Many respondents, in fact, say they are making significant progress toward network virtualization.

“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.”

Key findings

  • 81% say industry progress toward 5G is moving rapidly, mostly in major markets, or is at least in line with expectations.
  • 71% expect to begin 5G network build-outs within 18 months, including one-third who have already begun or will do so in 2020.
  • 95% percent say virtualizing 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 virtualization.
  • 99% view deployment of mobile edge clouds as an important aspect of 5G networks, with 65% 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, 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 hyperscale 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.”

Challenges: The security mandate

The industry’s top 5G challenges:

  • Heavy cost of build-outs (59%)
  • Security of network (57%)
  • Need for new technical skills (55%)
  • Lack of 5G enabled devices (42%)

Importance of security to 5G:

  • 99% rate security as important to their 5G planning, higher than even network reach and coverage or network capacity and throughput
  • 97% say increased traffic, connected devices and mission-critical use case significantly increase security and reliability concerns for 5G
  • 93% say their security investments are already being affected (52%) or are under review (41%) due to 5G requirements

Top use cases expected to power 5G adoption

Next two years:

  • Ultra-high-speed connectivity (81%)
  • Industrial automation & smart manufacturing (62%)
  • Smart cities (54%)
  • Connected vehicles

Next 5 to 6 years:

  • Smart cities (62%)
  • Ultra-high-speed connectivity (59%)
  • Connected Vehicles (57%)
  • Industrial automation & smart manufacturing (42%)

“Mobile operators globally need to be proactively preparing for the demands of a new 5G world,” Reiss said.

In an increasingly 5G and edge world, DNS matters

Infoblox identified the challenges Communication Service Providers (CSPs) face in transitioning to distributed cloud models, as well as the use cases for multi-access edge computing (MEC), 5G New Radio (NR), and 5G Next Generation Core (NGC) networks.

distributed dns

“Distributed cloud models such as 5G and multi-access edge computing networks have the potential to drastically change the CSP industry, delivering high-bandwidth, low latency services to network customers,” said Dilip Pillaipakam, Vice President and GM of Service Provider Business at Infoblox.

“Yet to fully take advantage of the benefits of these new technologies, DNS will have to evolve to address the challenges that come from delivering these high-value services at the network edge.”

DNS will need to be increasingly automated

DNS is a critical element to these new network architectures and technologies, enabling devices to access the network securely and reliably. And as 5G NR, NGC, and MEC technologies enable faster, more distributed networks with significantly more connected devices, DNS will need to be increasingly automated and operate at greater scale and with greater flexibility.

Yet, despite the importance of DNS to the reliable functioning of these networks, the survey found that few CSPs believe that their DNS is currently capable of supporting MEC or 5G NEC.

To meet this need, networks will need to leverage the benefits of distributed DNS technology that can enable network managers to meet users where they are—at the network edge.

Other key findings

  • CSPs consider DNS to be critical to the adoption of next-generation network technologies like 5G (71%), cloud-based managed security services (66%) and MEC (63%).
  • More than one third of CSPs surveyed plan to implement MEC (36%), 5G (35%), and NEC (35%) in the next 12-18 months.
  • Despite this, the lack of a mature vendor solution ranks as the largest obstacle these providers face in MEC (36%), 5G NR (46%) and 5G NEC (39%) deployments.

The CSPs surveyed included companies that represent all aspects of the industry; the largest groups were converged operators (46% of respondents), mobile operators (26%), and fixed-line and cable operators (10% each). The survey asked about their plans for implementing MEC, 5G NGC, and 5G NR technologies, business use cases, as well as concerns and obstacles to implementation.

distributed dns

The survey’s findings indicate that the future of DNS will hinge on the delivery of a fully distributed and fully capable edge-based DNS.

“CSPs seeking to advantage of the benefits of cloud-based and distributed technologies like MEC, 5G NR, and 5G NGC, will need DNS services that can keep up with the challenge of edge-centric network models,” continued Pillaipakam.

“DNS providers will need to adapt and evolve to ensure that customers in this industry are provided with the features, flexibility, and security that these new architectures demand.”

5G infrastructure market estimated to reach $44.9 billion by 2025

Post COVID-19, the 5G infrastructure market is estimated to grow from $12.6 billion in 2020 and projected to reach $44.9 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 28.97%, according to ResearchAndMarkets. The projection for 2025 is estimated to be down by 22.79% as compared to pre COVID-19 estimation.

5G infrastructure market

The major factors driving the growth of the global 5G infrastructure market is the need for high data transfer speed with low latency, increasing adoption of IoT devices, rising implementation of automation technologies across the end-user industries, and exponential rise in data traffic.

5G macro cell-based communication market to generate highest revenue

Macro cells provide radio coverage for cellular networks and comprise the bulk of 4G/5G data traffic. Though macro cell sites are costly to deploy, they generate a higher average gross margin compared with small cells. Since one macro cell can cover several small cells.

The impact of COVID-19 on macro cells is expected to be high as operators are seeking to minimize their capital spending to remain in the growth stage.

However, the COVID-19 crisis has made end users realize the true value of automation, IoT, and digitalization, who are now anticipated to increase their focus on implementing 5G wireless technology across their facilities, leading to aggressive deployment of macro cells during 2020-2025.

Industrial end-user to have the highest CAGR in 5G infrastructure market

The industrial market is estimated to grow at the highest rate because of the growing demand for process automation in various manufacturing and process industries. 5G networks will become mainstream in industrial facilities for various applications.

To efficiently collect, store, manage, and analyze the data generated by connected devices, a robust communication network infrastructure such as 5G will be needed to facilitate communication between IoT devices.

5G infrastructure market in APAC to generate highest revenue between 2020 and 2025

The 5G infrastructure market in APAC is expected to generate highest revenue during the forecast period. This growth is attributed to aggressive spending on the development 5G network infrastructure by China, South Korea, Japan, and India.

The rising 5G subscriber base and the adoption of 5G smartphones in these countries will result in large scale deployment of 5G base stations.

Some of the major players in the global 5G infrastructure market are Ericsson (Sweden), Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (US), Nokia Networks (Finland), Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (South Korea), and ZTE Corporation (China) among others.

Application performance becoming a key concern, influenced by increasing SD-WAN complexity

Application performance, impacted by network complexity at the edge and in the cloud, is the key enterprise concern this year for organizations implementing SD-WAN, according to Aryaka.

SD-WAN complexity

The study surveyed over one thousand global IT and network practitioners at companies across all verticals, headquartered in NA, APAC and EMEA. The survey asked respondents about their networking and performance challenges, priorities and their plans for 2020 and beyond.

“Modern applications are being distributed across on premises data centers, multiple public clouds (IaaS & SaaS) and edge locations. This is creating more complexity and greater dependency on the network to ensure optimal application performance as confirmed by the Aryaka report,” said Bob Laliberte, Sr. Analyst and Practice Director at ESG.

“Organizations need WAN solutions that deliver performance, flexibility and simplicity to overcome that complexity. This is driving interest in managed SD-WAN offerings that combine application optimization and secure connectivity, to any location, from any location, including access and support for remote workers.”

SD-WAN complexity

Enterprise complexity at the edge and within the cloud are creating a challenging environment for IT organizations. IT managers identify complexity and slow performance of both on-prem and cloud-based applications as their biggest concerns.

Complexity (37 percent) replaces cost as the number one concern, followed by slow on-prem performance (32 percent) and slow access to cloud and SaaS apps (32 percent). Security (31 percent) and long deployment times (30 percent) are also in the top four.

With so many applications in use, many of which are cloud-based, IT is consumed by managing application performance and access to the cloud. And it’s only getting more complex, highlighting the need for a managed service for many organizations.

The biggest IT time consuming issues identified by respondents were remote and mobile (47 percent), application performance at the branch (43 percent) and accessing the cloud, which doubled from 20 percent in 2019 to 42 percent in 2020.

Challenges surrounding UCaaS

The survey showed that while network managers have high expectations as performance, UCaaS is still challenging to deploy globally, and, once again, complexity is the culprit.

Respondents identified set-up and management as the number one challenge for voice and video (48 percent in 2020; 27 percent in 2019), highlighting the need for managed solutions that hide the complexity. Lag/delay was a close second (43 percent in 2020; 30 percent in 2019), which illustrates network performance issues. This was followed by dropped calls (39 percent).

It’s all about the apps and where they’re connecting from

Most of the enterprises surveyed are leveraging over 10 SaaS applications (51 percent in 2020 versus 23 percent in 2019), which speaks to the criticality of cloud performance. In terms of where these SaaS apps are hosted, it’s a multi-cloud world, with AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, Oracle, and Alibaba Cloud all well represented.

What’s more, enterprises are continuing to increase the number of applications deployed. A growing number of companies are deploying 100+ applications: 59 percent in 2020 compared to 43 percent in 2019. Please refer to the report for more detailed, per-vertical data and year-on-year comparisons.

What’s being done to reduce complexity

To address increased complexity and the time spent managing the WAN, enterprises regardless of size are undergoing major initiatives that include automation, the cloud and newer areas of interest such as IoT, AI/ML and blockchain.

For broad IT initiatives, automation grew substantially to 41 percent of respondents in 2020 from only 31 percent in 2019, as did IoT (29 percent in 2020 from 18 percent in 2019), AI/ML (27 percent in 2020 from 12 percent in 2019), and blockchain (21 percent in 2020 from only five percent in 2019).

On the cloud front, regardless of company size, upgrades and management are important as well as a keen interest in 5G. This last initiative reflects the interest in 5G as a future primary connectivity option for SD-WAN.

Respondents identified cloud upgrades (37 percent) and management (38 percent) as top networking initiatives. A whopping 42 percent of respondents also named 5G as a top initiative for this year.

Barriers and expectations for today’s SD-WANs

Buyers are at various stages of their SD-WAN evaluation, but most are still gathering information or evaluating vendors. Forty-four percent of respondents are gathering information, 23 percent are evaluating SD-WAN vendors, 11 percent are building a business case, 13 percent are in the middle of deploying, six percent have deployed and assumed to be happy while only two percent are deployed, but not happy.

When evaluating SD-WAN, the top three potential barriers include application performance, knowledge gaps and complexity. Overall, cost seems less a consideration this year versus performance and complexity, with SD-WAN ROI better understood and valued than in previous years.

Beyond the barriers mentioned above, SD-WAN planners have certain expectations they’d like met. Respondents said, the cloud and WAN optimization are still key requirements to a successful SD-WAN solution, but NFV, support for remote workers and the desire for a managed service have grown substantially. Add in security, and all of these features illustrate the many moving parts critical to a successful SD-WAN deployment.

Their top SD-WAN features wish lists included expected responses such as security, cloud and WAN optimization, but also network functions virtualization (NFV), which more than doubled from 2019 (35 percent in 2020 from 13 percent in 2019) and support for remote employees, which also grew by over 50 percent (33 percent in 2020 from 21 percent in 2019). Organizations are increasingly expecting the mobile workforce to be included as part of the total SD-WAN solution.

The desire for a fully managed SD-WAN also increased to 37 percent in 2020 from 28 percent in 2019. This aligns with a growing acceptance for managed offerings, likely in response to the increasing complexities and challenges detailed earlier, with 87 percent of respondents saying they would consider a managed SD-WAN as compared to 59 percent in 2019.

“We are living in a complex multi-cloud and multi-SaaS application world. As global enterprises continue to innovate by embracing new technologies and migrating to the cloud, they also face new challenges, and the network is increasingly a strategic asset” said Shashi Kiran, CMO of Aryaka.

“Whether it’s an increasing number of global sites through expansion, poor performing cloud-based applications, increasing costs or the time it takes to manage multiple vendors, many organizations are at an inflection point: transform the WAN now or risk falling behind and losing out to competitors.”

Global 5G connections reach 17.7 million, 59 5G commercial networks live

Customers are making 5G the fastest growing generation of cellular wireless technology in terms of new subscriptions, according to 5G Americas.

global 5G connections

According to data based from Omdia, there are now over 17.7 million 5G connections globally as of Q4 2019, which represents 329% growth over Q3 2019 – and is five million subscribers ahead of previous projections.

“We truly had a great year in 2019, as 5G adoption has surpassed most forecasts. With the first year of 5G completed, 2020 is shaping up to be focused on the growth of new 5G devices, increasing coverage, increasing network densification, and probably the first 5G Stand Alone deployments,” said Chris Pearson, President, 5G Americas.

The ascent of cellular communication technologies

The rapid ascent of 5G compares favorably against the initial year for previous cellular communication technologies like LTE, which has now reached 5.3 billion connections after ten years of operation.

While LTE became commercially available in the last quarter of 2009, it was used by only around 1,000 customers in Western Europe initially. In 2010, North America added 20,000 more LTE customers, bringing the total to 23,250 connections globally.

It took roughly 10 quarters, or until Q1 2012, for 4G LTE to reach 17.9 million connections – roughly where 5G is today. 3G did not reach that mark until December 2010, after 11 Quarters and 2G reached it in December 1995, after 14 quarters.

The rapid growth of 5G has been fueled by an explosion of 3GPP-standard commercial 5G networks deployed globally. There are now 59 5G commercial networks, a number which is expected to nearly quadruple to 200 by the end of 2020, according to data from TeleGeography.

The geographical expansion of global 5G connections

Regionally by the end of 2019, North America had 587,000 5G connections and 483 million LTE connections. In Q4 2019, North America continued with robust subscription additions of 434,000 5G connections (284% Q3 to Q4) and 13 million LTE connections (2.7% Q3 to Q4) across the region.

Latin America and the Caribbean ended 2019 with 1,237 5G subscriptions (314% Q3 to Q4) and 366 million LTE subscriptions (5.4% Q3 to Q4 growth), respectively.

According to Jose Otero, Vice President of Latin America and Caribbean, 5G Americas, “5G is the fastest growing wireless technology to arrive in Latin America and the Caribbean and the first generation of wireless cellular technologies to be deployed in the region during its first year of existence.

2019 saw the arrival of commercial 5G networks in Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Uruguay and the US Virgin, and is expected that during 2020 more 5G networks start operating in the region.”

Looking forward, Omdia projects 5G connections will reach 91 million globally by the end of 2020, of which North America will account for 13.9 million. Latin America and the Caribbean will account for an additional 1.5 million subscribers by the end of the year.

At the same time, global 4G LTE connections are expected to reach 5.9 billion, of which 513 million (6.1% annual growth) will come from North America and 397 million (8.6% annual growth) will come from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Overall, the following number of networks using wireless technologies have been deployed as of March 16, 2020:

Global
  • 5G: 59
  • LTE Advanced: 321
  • LTE: 672
North America
  • 5G: 6
  • LTE Advanced: 9
  • LTE: 19
Latin America & Caribbean
  • 5G: 5
  • LTE Advanced: 48
  • LTE: 126

Can 5G make you more vulnerable to cyberattacks?

Many enterprises and sectors are unaware of the 5G security vulnerabilities that exist today. Choice IoT says it’s critical for businesses to have a plan for discovering and overcoming them at the outset of a 5G/IoT platform rollout to avoid future cybersecurity disasters.

5G security vulnerabilities

There is a big difference between the promise of 5G low latency, higher bandwidth, and speed for businesses versus the security of 5G. While many are excited about Gartner’s prediction of $4.2 billion being invested in global 5G wireless network infrastructure in 2020, few discuss the business costs of its unheralded security holes.

That’s an ongoing conversation that 5G and IoT solutions experts like Choice IOT’s CEO Darren Sadana are having with enterprises with 5G plans on the drawing board. “Businesses will need a strategy for overcoming 5G’s inherited security flaws from 4G or face major losses and privacy catastrophes.”

5G is poised to drive IoT, industrial IoT (IIoT), cloud services, network virtualization, and edge computing, which multiplies the endpoint security complications. Although the manufacturing sector cites IIoT security as the top priority, the combination of 5G security vulnerabilities may come back to haunt them.

Pinpointing 5G security vulnerabilities

According to an Accenture study of more than 2,600 business and technology decision makers across 12 industry sectors in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, 62% fear 5G will make them more vulnerable to cyberattacks. At the root of the problem is the reality that many of the security problems stem from the software-defined, virtualized nature of 5G versus the hardware foundations of earlier LTE mobile communication standards.

It’s central role in IoT is a strength and a weakness where endpoints are highly localized and beyond the network edge. The 5G network promises of device authentication, device encryption, device ID, and credentialing are positives, but the flip side is that many of those pluses also carry security dangers.

The nature of how signals and data are routed in 5G/IoT networks can lead to Mobile Network mapping (MNmap), where attackers can create maps of devices connected to a network, identify each device and link it to a specific person. Then there are Man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks that enable attackers to hijack the device information before security is applied.

There are also supply chain security challenges with platform components bought from overseas that harbor inherent security flaws. This can be seen in the backdoor vulnerabilities alleged to be purposely built into mobile carrier networks supplied with equipment from Chinese equipment giant Huawei.

The back doors would allow malicious actors to get target location, eavesdrop on calls, and enable the potential for ransomware injection into a 5G network targeting a mobile carrier.

Other vulnerabilities covered across the wireless and IoT sectors include SIM Jacking, Authenticated Key Exchange protocols (AKA) and a host of base station backdoor vulnerabilities.

IoT for everything from smart homes, medical devices and machine to machine (M2M) operation to smart cities/power grids and autonomous vehicles are threat targets. They all give attackers multiple ways to manipulate interconnected IoT devices communicating data via 5G networks.

DDoS attacks, the ability to take control of video surveillance systems and medical devices, and more are all possible due to this broader attack surface and inherent 5G vulnerabilities.

Plugging the holes

The picture doesn’t have to be a bleak one for businesses and enterprises that want to maximize the benefits of 5G while eliminating its vulnerabilities across sectors like healthcare, utilities, finance, automotive, communication and many others.

A U.S. Senator, recently called on the FCC to require wireless carriers rolling out 5G networks to develop cybersecurity standards. Sadana and other experts make it clear that assessment, discovery, and planning are key. They form the foundation for 5G/IoT platform buildout vulnerability identification and system modifications that encompass IT/OT and wireless connectivity.

Sadana points to the NIST National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE), which is developing a NIST Cybersecurity Practice Guide. This will demonstrate how the components of 5G architectures can be used securely to mitigate risks and meet industry sectors’ compliance requirements across use case scenarios.

“While this goes a long way to providing a standardized practices roadmap for companies in creating 5G platforms that are secure, it’s only a start,” explained Sadana. “5G is still the wild west with things changing every day, so businesses need IoT/IT security expert partners that can help them plan from the ground up.”

Devices on 5G networks demand differentiated security solutions

There will be 8.3 billion mobile broadband subscriptions by the end of 2024, which translates to 95 percent of all subscriptions by then, according to the SMU Office of Research & Tech Transfer.

devices 5G networks

Total mobile data traffic will reach 131 exabytes per month (1 exabyte = 1 billion gigabytes), with 35 percent carried by 5G networks.

While mobile phones will consume the bulk of the data, the sheer number and wide variety of devices that will be connected via 5G technology is likely to pose security threats not faced by previous generations of mobile networks, explains Professor Robert Deng at the SMU School of Information Systems.

“When 5G becomes pervasive, the majority of the devices connected to mobile networks will not be mobile devices anymore,” he says, referring to things such as household appliances, lightbulbs, or indeed something mobile like an autonomous car that is itself filled with smaller IoT devices such as sensors.

“Some of them will be as powerful as the mobile device we’re using today, while some will have minimal computational and communication capability. Given the variety of IoT devices, given their different capabilities and deployment environments, the security requirement of solutions will be very, very different.”

Solving cybersecurity concerns, in the mobile world and on the cloud

As he runs the research initiative aimed at building “a mobile system security and mobile cloud security technology pipeline for smart nation applications”, Professor Deng points out the main questions that need answering when designing security solutions:

  • What is the application context?
  • What is the threat model, i.e. who is going to attack you?
  • What are the risks?

He elaborates: “When the IoT becomes pervasive, the requirements will be very different from those for today’s mobile applications. You have to come up with new security solutions for any particular type of IoT application, [which necessitates] differentiated security services.”

The resource constraint of some IoT devices also poses cybersecurity challenges. A lot of existing security solutions would not work on a surveillance camera mounted on a lamp post, which is much more limited in computational and storage capabilities.

“Given that kind of devices, how do you add in security?” Professor Deng points out. “I have the IoT devices but there’s no user interface. How do I perform user authentication? Those are the new requirements we are going to deal with.”

Cars and drones also demand attention

Bigger devices such as cars and drones also demand attention, Professor Deng says. With the advent of autonomous cars, vehicles need to have the capability to stop themselves in the event of emergencies even if they are infected by malware. Similarly, a drone must be able to execute critical operations such as returning to home base in the event it is hacked.

The other main concern of the NSoE MSS-CS is mobile cloud security, especially when “data records in real time monitoring system may contain sensitive information”.

“As a data owner, I upload my data to the cloud. How do I know that data is still under my control and not under the control of the service provider or my adversaries?” asks Professor Deng, who is also the AXA Chair Professor of Cybersecurity at SMU. That is the reason for cybersecurity experts’ continuing efforts to build stronger encryption capabilities, but which also leads to the difficulty in sharing critical data. He notes:

“My folder is encrypted and I want to share my folder with you, but you must have the decryption key. But how do I pass the key to you? We are designing a solution where I don’t even have to pass the key to you, but it automatically gives you all the permission to access my folder even if it’s encrypted. The other issue is how do you do the computation to process and access the data that is encrypted? Those are the things we do.”