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Vertiv survey reveals telco 5G hopes and fears

06 May 2019

Together with analyst firm 451 Research, Vertiv has unveiled the findings from its report that delves into the state of 5G.

Titled ‘Industry Hopes and Fears: From Energy Costs to Edge Computing Transformation’, the report is based on the results from a survey of more than 100 global telecom decision makers with visibility into 5G and edge strategies and plans.

According to Vertiv, respondents were ‘overwhelmingly’ optimistic about the 5G business outlook and are investing aggressively into deployment plans. Just 12 percent of operators expect to be rolling out 5G services before the end of the year, while 86 percent expect to be delivering by 2021.

According to the survey, those initial services will be focused on supporting existing data services (96 percent) and new consumer services (36 percent). About one-third of respondents (32 percent) expect to support existing enterprise services with 18 percent saying they expect to deliver new enterprise services.

Vertiv vice president of global edge and integrated solutions Martin Olsen says 5G itself will become a key enabler of emerging edge use cases that require high-bandwidth and low latency data transmission, like virtual and augmented reality, digital healthcare, and smart buildings and cities.

Despite this, the majority of respondents (68 percent) don’t expect to achieve total 5G coverage until 2028 or later. Twenty-eight percent expect to have total coverage by 2027 while only 4 percent expect to have total coverage by 2025.

“While telcos recognise the opportunity 5G presents, they also understand the network transformation required to support 5G services,” says Olsen.

“This report brings clarity to the challenges they face and reinforces the role innovative, energy-efficient network infrastructure will play in enabling 5G to realise its potential.”

Vertiv’s report found that telcos are ramping up the deployment of multi-access edge computing (MEC) sites in a bid to support 5G services. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they are already deploying MEC infrastructure ahead of 5G deployments while an additional 47 percent intend to deploy MECs.

In the area of remote management, data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) was identified as the most important enabler (55 percent), followed by energy management (49 percent). Remote management will be critical, as the report suggests the network densification required for 5G could require operators to double the number of radio access locations around the globe in the next 10-15 years.

The survey also delved into how telcos are dealing with energy issues both today and five years down the line when large portions of the network will be supporting 5G – which 94 percent of participants expect to increase network energy consumption.

Respondents expect to be adopting new cooling techniques in the coming years, jumping from 43 percent in 2019 to 73 percent over the next five years.

“5G represents the most impactful and difficult network upgrade ever faced by the telecom industry,” says 451 Research’s research vice president Brian Partridge.

“In general, the industry recognises the scale of this challenge and the need for enabling technologies and services to help it maintain profitability by more efficiently managing increasingly distributed networks and mitigating the impact of higher energy costs.”

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