5G optimism held back by security and cost fears

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Businesses are confident that 5G will have a greater impact on their organisations than that of 4G, but many still have concerns about cost and security, new research has claimed.

Mobile operators had hoped the greater capacity and faster speeds of 4G would open up new revenue streams. However the reality was that strong demand for mobile data from consumers constrained by the limits of 3G infrastructure, meant 4G simply became a more efficient form of 3G.

This is reflected in the findings of a new report from Accenture, which found only a quarter of businesses believed 4G was truly revolutionary.

Business 5G adoption

However there is much more optimism surrounding 5G, which promises ultrafast speeds, greater capacity and ultra-low latency. When coupled with intelligent network infrastructure and features like network slicing, 5G will be able to power new types of applications beyond mobile data, such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), smart cities, and mission critical functions.

Four fifths of businesses believe 5G will have a significant impact on their business and 57 per cent think 5G will be revolutionary. There is hope that 5G will accelerate digitisation efforts with 85 per cent expecting to use 5G to support field workers within four years.

However security issues are still a hot topic, despite the fact that 5G networks are inherently more secure than previous generations of mobile technology.

A third of businesses have security concerns and 62 per cent believe 5G will make their organisation more vulnerable to an attack. It’s possible that because 5G networks will connect more types of devices and carry more sensitive data, organisations fear the potential volume of threats and the potential damage they could wreak. Accordingly, 74 per cent expect to redefine their security policies for 5G.

“The link between 5G and its perceived security risks is complex,” said George Nazi, senior managing director and Communications and Media industry lead at Accenture. “According to our study, executives believe that 5G can help secure their businesses, but that 5G network architecture also presents inherent challenges in terms of user privacy, number of connected devices and networks, and service access and supply chain integrity.”

The other major issue is complexity. Four fifths of businesses believe the cost of managing their infrastructure will increase as a result of 5G and a third fear the cost of implementation will be to great. Three quarters will seek outside help to assist with their deployment.

“With the right business strategy and ecosystem collaboration, the signs point towards a world of compelling 5G use cases and business outputs,” added Nazi. “Communications service providers should act now to ensure they are at the heart of the 5G ecosystem to unlock the potential growth.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.