5G products struggle to meet enterprise demands

Future use cases of communication technologies were discussed during the Big 5G event, with network slicing, healthcare technology and cybersecurity addressed by the panelists.

Tereza Krásová, Associate Editor

May 23, 2023

4 Min Read
5G products struggle to meet enterprise demands

AUSTIN – Big 5G Event – One of the many subjects discussed at the Big 5G event in Austin was emerging use cases for communications technology. During a panel chaired by Camille Mendler, chief analyst at Light Reading's sister company Omdia, topics including network slicing, healthcare and sustainability were discussed.

Jodi Baxter, vice president for 5G and IoT connectivity at Telus, described the numerous emerging applications of 5G in healthcare. One example is a connected ambulance project carried out with Alberta Health Services, where, thanks to 5G, doctors can remotely issue authorizations necessary for stroke medication, which needs to be administered within a narrow time window.

Figure 1: Omdia's Camille Mendler says companies cannot find commercial slicing offers. (Source: JLeitner Photography) Omdia's Camille Mendler says companies cannot find commercial slicing offers.
(Source: JLeitner Photography)

Some of the applications developed for the healthcare sector can also be included in telcos' offerings to corporate customers. Baxter said Telus has included remote doctor and nurse consultations in 5G bundles for small businesses, which can help their staff retention rates.

Healthcare companies are also looking at more specific applications, with Baxter citing the example of a healthcare company that would wish to track hip and knee replacements with 5G.

Another important area is sustainability. While this is often seen as an unprofitable endeavor, Baxter argued technology can help customers see a return on investment. One of Telus's projects in this area uses drones and 5G for reforestation.

The products on offer, however, do not always correspond to demand from companies. Omdia's research has shown that about a fifth of midsized to large enterprises "want to invest in slicing in the next two years, but most people cannot find a commercial offer," said Mendler. "[It's] not there yet, which is a problem, right?" she added.

Demand-supply mismatch

Baxter noted that slicing will be a game changer for security and transportation of critical data. The panel pointed to autonomous vehicles as another potential application that will require its own slice.

Baxter also said slicing will be important for ensuring applications from private 5G networks also have a macro capability. Lori Thomas, senior vice president for strategic engagement and transformation at MetTel, pointed out that a lot of government agencies are currently looking to bring specific functionalities from the private network onto the public network, and make them accessible in edge devices such as laptops and tablets.

According to Mendler, while a lot of innovation has focused on private networks, the "real money" lies outside of them.

William Britton, vice president for information technology and CIO at California Polytechnic State University, said it is not always easy to figure out how products offered by telecom companies apply to specific use cases. The university has been told to "go elsewhere" by providers when it has approached them about possible 5G applications, as the solutions on offer did not meet requirements, he said.

Speaking about the particular needs of his university, he highlighted the significant demand for bandwidth during limited events, such as course registration, as well as ad hoc scenarios like high data throughput during online gaming events.

A big concern for universities in general is cybersecurity. Britton points out that the education sector has become a massive target for cyberattacks, such as malware and ransomware. Indeed, research suggests that attacks on educational organizations grew by 44% in 2022, while data from endpoint protection firm Emsisoft suggests that the number of individual schools impacted by ransomware attacks also grew.

Security, of course, is a major priority for organizations everywhere, not just in the education sector. Thomas points to IoT, where vast amounts of data travel at high speeds, which is particularly attractive for bad actors. Once 5G can be coupled with blockchain, she noted, data security will improve.

One way to look at specific use cases is through innovation labs, with Thomas saying in the short term these can accelerate the time to revenue. She pointed to MetTel's partnership with SpaceX and VMware, which saw the latter company's software-defined wide area network deployed over Starlink to bring high-bandwidth communications to remote areas.

Thomas also said demand for more bandwidth was one of the key trends in the public sector. Customers are, according to her, looking at technologies including 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) and satellites to secure it.

Related posts:

— Tereza Krásová, Associate Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Tereza Krásová

Associate Editor, Light Reading

Associate Editor, Light Reading

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like