At Mobile World Congress, there's a barrage of 5G news about new front-end devices such as foldable phones, networking gear and services for everything from the enterprise to smart city. But the executives with the spending power are skeptical about what 5G will mean -- if anything -- to their businesses.
An Accenture survey of 1,800 executives from mid-sized and large businesses found that more than half of them say there is little that 5G will do that they cannot already do with 4G networks. In other words, execs are taking a wait-and-see approach on 5G and how it will transform their businesses.
Meanwhile, 37 percent of executives expect 5G to bring a huge bump in speed and capacity.
Accenture found that 5G will have importance competitively as it covers more of the population. Indeed, 60 percent of executives think 5G will cover all of the population by year 2022. And 46 percent of executives think 5G will have a significant impact on speed.
- Special Report: How 5G will transform business (Free PDF)
- 5G New Radio: The technical background
- Five industries that will be most affected by 5G
- What is 5G? All you need to know about the next generation of wireless technology
- 5G Your Next Big Upgrade (CNET)
- Why a 5G rollout requires $2.7T investment by 2020 (TechRepublic)
From an enterprise technology perspective, there are good reasons why executives aren't on the 5G hype bandwagon yet. Among the key issues:
- Devices aren't in the field en masse yet.
- Use cases for the future of work and productivity aren't baked.
- Fixed broadband may be the best use case for businesses.
- 5G networks aren't built and it's unclear how data plans will be priced for anyone.
- Upfront investment is a barrier to 5G cited by 36 percent of respondents.
On the bright side, Accenture found 72 percent of executives said they need help figuring out use cases for 5G. Telecom carriers will be a key part of that use case mix, but 60 percent of executives said communications services firms lack knowledge about their industries. What's unclear is what telecom provider will have enough focus on business needs. Many have been diverted into media and advertising, two businesses outside their core expertise.
By industry, 53 percent of energy sector respondents said 5G will have a big impact on their reach. The government sector has the lowest awareness of 5G with 59 percent of respondents believing it will be 10 times faster than 4G.
Executives may be skeptical about 5G, but the build out is accelerating.
- The edge takes shape: The 5G telco cloud that would compete with Amazon
- MWC 2019: Intel 5G chip will be ready by end of 2019
- MWC 2019: ZTE announces Axon 10 Pro 5G smartphone
- Windows 10 PCs to get 5G for first time as Qualcomm unveils new modem
- MWC 2019: Sprint 5G to launch in May
- MWC 2019: Huawei builds 5G network across Korea with LG Uplus
- MWC 2019: AT&T and Vodafone partner on automotive IoT
- MWC 2019: Ericsson CEO sees Asia, North America winning on 5G
- MWC 2019: Intel announces 5G SoC Hewitt Lake
- Foldable phones could finally push office workers away from the PC
- MWC 2019: Optus will gain 'months more' 5G experience with fixed-wireless launch
- MWC 2019: Telstra bringing Samsung, Oppo, LG 5G smartphones to customers
- MWC 2019: Telstra and CBA partner on 5G banking trials
- Huawei's Mate X foldable 5G smartphone has one big design difference
- MWC 2019: Ericsson and Telstra launch IoT extender
- MWC 2019: Nokia CEO says 5G is here and we have the right strategy
- MWC 2019: Nokia and Optus claim world's first 3GPP 5G fixed-wireless service
- MWC 2019: NEC develops 5G baseband radio units
- MWC 2019: Ericsson and Intel demo 4G-5G spectrum sharingSamsung launches RF chipsets for 5G base stations