How 5G will transform enterprises in APAC – and what is needed

When it comes to 5G deployments, Asia Pacific – along with North America – is leading the charge. From an Asia Pacific perspective, China dominates in 5G investments, while other markets such as Australia and Japan are hot on its heels, according to Forrester. In April 2019, South Korea entered the market with the launch of its commercial 5G services and the number of subscribers reached over one million in under 70 days, reported South Korea’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Clearly large-scale 5G deployment is imminent in the region, with various stakeholders such as the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership projecting it could deliver up to 1,000 times higher wireless capacity for a given area. But 5G isn’t all about bandwidth. It is about enabling a new wave of media-rich, latency-sensitive applications that will impact and improve every aspect of our personal and professional lives. The number of use cases is limited only by our imagination. Enterprises can deliver near-real life multimedia communications for entertainment and collaboration or roll out mass-scale, low-latency IoT deployments with the highest availability across every vertical. Smart cities and smart grids can become increasingly widespread with 5G.

Enterprises in the region should start planning early to ensure they are ready to take advantage of the transformative potential of this technology. Paradoxically, its success does not lie within the devices and services it enables; rather, the first step towards 5G transformation is in ensuring their network infrastructure is ready for 5G. So, what do enterprises need from their telecoms operators to ensure they have everything in place for a 5G-driven transformation?

Virtualization cost efficiencies

With faster speeds and reliable, ubiquitous coverage, 5G will spark an era of intensive bandwidth consumption. From augmented and virtual reality to multimedia collaboration to high-speed analytics, the network will become an essential piece of business infrastructure. As a result, it is essential for the mobile network to be extremely efficient and cost-effective to own and operate. Mobile network operators who are actively migrating to a virtualized environment will be best placed to support 5G deployments.

Scalability and programmability to match business needs

As businesses applications and usage expands rapidly in step with 5G deployments, their bandwidth demands will also fluctuate. For example, a gaming provider will need to scale network performance accordingly to cater for peak periods of gamer activity. And the network must be able to seamlessly adapt to support these needs. As such, an important question to ask the operator is whether the network is scalable and programmable. Put simply, can the operator increase the capacity available to your business quickly to meet evolving needs? This programmable scalability is the bedrock of all future infrastructure, allowing capacity to increase quickly and without any compromise on service quality so that enterprises can have access to what they need, when they need it.

Automation for flexibility, speed, and cost efficiency

To meet surging capacity demands, networks must behave differently. Today, the typical network operating model is very static and fixed. Enterprise customers are provided with access to a certain level of bandwidth and a particular type of infrastructure. Changing this dynamically as business needs shift is often a frustrating task with existing network infrastructure. As a result, operators must be laying the foundations for a far more responsive network. They must start migrating to adaptive networks that are extremely agile to match the needs of dynamic, fast-changing 5G applications, using intelligent automation driven by highly instrumented networks and associated analytics. These networks must also self-aware, self-healing, and self-optimizing to best predict and proactively avoid potential traffic bottlenecks and other issues without any human intervention to ensure that customer-facing services are never compromised and the maximum availability is maintained.

With the race to 5G well underway, enterprises need to start putting a plan in place to enhance their network so that they can benefit from all the exciting potential of 5G. There is a need to work collaboratively with operators to establish the critical foundation: a network that is scalable, adaptive and available in the wake of an ever-increasing, constantly-changing traffic load.