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After the announcements at MWC19 Shiv Putcha, Principal Analyst at emerging tech specialists Mandala Insights believes that 5G is now real.

The question still remains: what will be the use case for high speed, high density and low latency? A few example are emerging, and most promising private networking for enterprises could be an important area.

It was impossible to be a delegate and leave MWC’19 without 5G etched, scratched or even burned into your brain. Not only did #5GisHere become a trending hashtag at the show, various speakers, exhibitors and delegates we spoke to couldn’t finish two sentences without weaving in a 5G reference.

Bottom line, 5G will be a reality in 2019 but more importantly, the number of “Year 1” announcements underlines that 5G is on a much faster adoption cycle than 4G at the same corresponding time in its evolution. Qualcomm’s Cristiano Amon highlighted this with a slide that showed 20+ operator announcements and 20+ devices from OEMs announced already. This is a key point.

With any new “G”, device availability was always the gating factor, but this does not appear to be the case with 5G. All signs point to new devices being available in volume in the first half of 2019 and that these will be “competitive”, which we take to mean significantly cheaper than the $2000 plus foldable phones that were announced by Samsung and Huawei at the show.

While foldable devices were the buzz going into the show, the Galaxy Fold and Mate X devices from Samsung and Huawei respectively had everyone talking, particularly about the price. Beyond this, there were several other OEM announcements for 5G from the likes of Xiaomi (Mi Mix 3), LG (V50 ThinQ), Samsung (Galaxy S10 5G), ZTE (Axon 10 Pro 5G), Alcatel (7 5G), and prototypes from OnePlus, Oppo and Sony. The notable absentee from this list is, you guessed it, Apple!

In last year’s roundup, I had opined that there seemed to be no consensus amongst the service provider community on use cases for 5G though we saw everything from connected cars to smart robots to Industry 4.0 demos. The 2019 show was not much different, though there was more clarity around a few topics.

Namely, AR/VR for consumer and Industry 4.0 with numerous examples ranging from smart factories to remote farm management. One of the notable demos we saw for AR/VR was the announcement by Nokia, Intel, and Sony of the “SpiderMan: Far from Home” multi-player VR game, combining elements of edge cloud, processing and VR for a pretty compelling experience.

Private Networks Gaining Traction As 5g Shapes Up As An Enterprise Play

One of the areas we have been tracking for the last couple of years is the emergence of private networks for enterprises. These can be standalone or as-a-service networks, with both models throwing up different deployment and management scenarios.

Currently, the only way to offer up a private network is over LTE and there have been numerous commercial agreements and trials underway over the last year. Enterprises, cutting across the heavy industry, manufacturing, transport and logistics, energy and mining among others, have embarked on their respective digital transformation journeys.

Along the way, wireless connectivity has taken center stage as these companies look at ways to drive efficiencies and achieve productivity gains. Wireless connectivity has the potential to become the oxygen breathing new life into their retooled machines, assembly lines and processes.

As such, it is no coincidence that these enterprises are focused on 5G as a possible solution. Or to put it more accurately, focused on the potential benefits of migrating to private networks that will help them realize their digital ambitions.

Shiv Putcha

Founder & Principal Analyst, Mandala Insights


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