COVID-19 to delay enterprise 5G adoption

A key industry standard for the development of new-radio 5G will remain unreleased for at least two more months, holding back the availability of 5G products for the enterprise.

4g versus 5g horizon sunrise
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Enterprise adoption of 5G will be delayed because the 3GPP standards body has been sidelined by the COVID-19 outbreak and can’t finish its work on a critical standard for at least two months, according to ABI Research.

The standard in question, known as Release 16, addresses latency standards and mandating 99.999% uptime, said ABI Research analyst Leo Gergs. It was due for release in March and will now be delayed until at least June.

“Considering that an hour of machine downtime costs each manufacturer on average $300,000, this underlines the importance a high reliability on availability of the communication network,” he said.

As a result, companies that need a modernized cellular-network infrastructure will be forced to rely on various combinations of other technologies – 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – for different use cases. That’s a workable solution, said Gergs, but it’s less desirable than 5G given the additional work needed to ensure interoperability among those different standards. On the other hand, 5G by itself could fulfill those needs.

Moreover, the possibility of a general economic recession in response to the pandemic could severely shrink IT budgets in the coming months, making the potential customer base for new 5G technology commensurately smaller.

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