Research from professional services firm EY suggests that while enthusiasm for 5G might be gathering steam, the in-house capabilities to transform into a connected enterprise is lacking.

While the progress of technology might be accelerating, it does appear the business models, structure and capabilities to take advantage are lacking. This appears to be the overall message from EY; enterprise customers in the UK are brimming with enthusiasm, but it might be a case of ‘all the gear and no idea’.

“UK businesses are keen to invest in 5G, but this is not matched by most organisations’ capabilities,” said Praveen Shankar, EY’s Head of TMT.

“To overcome this challenge and reach the full potential of 5G, providers need to articulate a more compelling vision of the opportunity, while businesses need to educate themselves on the game-changing possibilities. Success will require adapting existing strategies like IoT to take full advantage of 5G and also understanding the links with adjacent emerging technologies such as AI.”

EY suggests that while only 15% of UK businesses are investing in 5G for the moment, this will increase to 70% within three years. Only 44% are confident they can successfully implement 5G-based Internet of Things (IoT), while 75% believe a significant overhaul of their operating model would be needed to realise implementation.

This is perhaps one of the more significant worries about the industry, especially in the UK. The technology and network might be progressing, but is the customer ready? Has enough been done to educate and engage the customer, both consumer and enterprise? We suspect the answer to these questions are no.

There are incubation hubs in various countries, but these are small and very niche. Adverts have largely been focused on speed upgrades as opposed to the additional benefits of 5G. And finally, Release 16 will formalise some of the more important specifications for 5G such as the core, standalone RAN, virtualisation, low-latency features and network slicing. The industry is still waiting for the completion of this release.

Although the customer engagement has been slightly lacking from the telcos and the supporting ecosystem, this is not the worst situation to be in. Innovation is generally somewhat of ‘chicken and egg’ situation, and in this case network deployment and technology is progressing faster than the business cases to support them. The telcos might not like to hear it, but they will just have to wait it bit longer for the 5G rewards than previously anticipated.


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