Advent of 5G, Adjacent Innovation and Opportunities (for Start-Ups)

by Kashyap Avashia, December 1, 2021

As part of our regular Mentor Call series, Dr Riad Hartani, a renowned Internet technologist based out of Silicon Valley, shared his thoughts on evolution of and opportunities in 5G and adjacent areas. Given below are the salient features of the discussion:

  • As 5G standards and deployments get more robust, the interest in and adoption of this technology is likely to grow manifold. In that sense, it is an evolution from previous generations but the ways in which 5G is being adopted bring in revolution in many businesses.
  • We can expect a similar growth curve for 6G as well since we are at an early stage of standards development.

  • 5G technology brings the following with it:
    • Higher capacity/throughput - Through wider bandwidth, carrier aggregation and different types of antenna systems
    • Lower latency – Through more efficient air interface and bringing hosted applications closer to the end user
    • Service enablement – That were not feasible with previous generations and thus opening up additional business opportunities
  • Over the next 5 years, we are likely to see convergence between 5G and technologies/businesses that are growing independently around it such as space, IOT, cloud computing etc.
  • 5G deployment is still in the first phase where we are trying to validate its economics, value-addition, business models etc.
  • 5G deployment is primarily concentrated in countries such as South Korea (1stto launch in 2019), US and China. It is still at an early stage in EU. We can expect a mass-scale deployment of 5G by 2024-25 in many other regions of the world.
  • Deploying 5G will require new device sand network elements(including software) that are compatible with it. While countries will prefer local equipment vendors to have a better control on their network infrastructure, applications can be developed in a more distributed fashion.
  • Prominent opportunities enabled by 5G:
    • 5G network has improved architecture and enhanced deployment flexibility. It enables edge-computing (i.e., bringing the content and applications closer to the edge of the network which otherwise is far away in a typical cloud set up) which, in turn, enables additional business opportunities due to factors such as reduced latency and connectivity cost, increased security and privacy and data governance.
    • With 5G, enterprises have started deploying their own private wireless networks based on private (enterprise specific) spectrum, network slicing, edge computing and virtualization (to speed up application deployment).
    • 5G also brings the possibility of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Space Internet where a space constellation (within a 1000 km range) leverages 5G network to augment its connectivity and eventually benefits enterprises and consumers.
  • In summary, 5G opens up opportunities in the areas of edge computing, enterprise private networks and space Internet to name a few. It will foster innovation and create new businesses in the time to come. However, regulatory support and robustness of business case are critical success factors.


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