IBM on 2021: Five 5G predictions – including cloud security, cellular IoT, drone deliveries
2021 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for 5G as cellular carriers ramp up deployment, new handsets enter the market, and consumers remain more dependent than ever on mobile devices amid an ongoing global pandemic. Additionally, the pandemic has driven a massive increase in the capacity demand of network utilization. This has driven more telecom leaders to speed their transition to open hybrid cloud platforms so they can efficiently scale to support growing volumes of data, voice and multimedia services.
As we look ahead to the new year, here are five predictions to watch out for in the rapidly evolving telco space.
1 | Automation and security go hand in hand
Automation and security will be increasingly integral to accelerating how telcos and enterprises efficiently and securely transform their networks to harness 5G. With millions of new connected devices, 5G represents a significant opportunity – and an expanded attack surface. Hackers will benefit not only from more targets to choose from, but new attack vectors in the form of IoT and other connected devices.
Telecom companies that embrace an open hybrid cloud platform can seamlessly integrate the deployment of automation and advanced security technologies that improve the scale of how security and data privacy is managed. They will also need to come together on issues like encryption and data architecture, and to support the work of independent security researchers.
2 | Edge computing gets a boost
5G coupled with edge computing will deliver more processing power to the network edge than ever before, enabling a variety of exciting new applications for consumer and business users alike. With vastly improved network speed and latency, 5G allows for higher volumes of data, while edge computing will deliver compute and storage for hyperlocal processing.
For enterprises in particular, the convergence of 5G, edge and open hybrid cloud capabilities will increasingly enable the flexibility and choice they need to accelerate the deployment of next-gen applications, offering an expansion of capabilities like visual recognition and real-time supply chain management, among others.
3 | 5G coalesces around common standards
While 5G is already live in hundreds of U.S. cities and many others around the world, the network standards and interfaces that comprise it continue to evolve. To ensure higher interoperability in the future, industry groups like 3GPP are working in tandem with carriers and vendors to coalesce around common architectures and standards.
4 | IoT goes cellular
5G can support millions more devices than fourth-generation cellular networks, but that doesn’t just mean more smartphones. IoT devices, which to date have relied largely on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for internet connectivity, will increasingly feature 5G cellular modems.
This will not only vastly improve IoT bandwidth and interoperability, but also unlock entirely new IoT use cases free of the need for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth base stations. Examples include more instrumented vehicles and more robust remote monitoring of patients.
5 | Last-mile delivery takes flight
In 2021, we’ll begin to see a greater shift towards formal adoption of 5G, particularly among enterprises. This means more partnerships formed within the tech industry and among the major carriers and telecom leaders that aim to monetize 5G, increase ROI and create new value for enterprises. For example, one of the greatest logistics hurdles facing most shippers is the final stretch of the product journey from distribution hub to final destination.
Optimizing for last-mile delivery is in large part a data problem: with more data and robust intelligence at the network edge, delivery drivers will be able to plot far more efficient routes. Eventually, 5G will enable last-mile delivery via driverless car and autonomous drone.