The Business Benefits and Controversies of 5G

The Business Benefits and Controversies of 5G

In our last post, we outlined the key features of the 5G standard. 

5G is, of course, the next generation of mobile connectivity, offering much faster data rates compared to existing 4G technology. It will also provide greater device density, lower latency, lower energy consumption, and faster handover from one base station to another. 

It all sounds good, but what does that really mean for businesses?

The most noticeable benefit for most organizations will be faster data speeds that allow anytime-anywhere access from the office, the home or while mobile. 5G will remove many of the technical issues that have previously  restricted and inhibited remote working. 5G networks will also enable a wide range of IoT capabilities by facilitating data-intensive tasks that require low latency. It is also expected to drive growth of augmented and virtual reality applications on mobile platforms.

Bandwidth slicing is a key benefit of 5G. Not all devices need high-speed, low-latency data connectivity — IoT devices are one example. 5G mobile operators will allow technology companies to purchase a fixed amount of guaranteed bandwidth, for example, 20Mbps. It will be to the subscriber how they manage or make use of that fixed bandwidth.

 It isn’t practical to have a mobile phone subscription for every IoT device; instead, devices can be connected to a specific subscriber. This is a particularly important innovation that will make edge computing possible and practical to deploy.

Of course, 5G is not without controversy. Various groups have expressed concerns about the potential impact of 5G on health, safety, security and privacy:

Weather. Some of the frequencies are close to the passive remote sensing used by Earth observation satellites. It could result in a 30 percent reduction in weather forecast accuracy. 

Surveillance. Fears of potential espionage, have resulted in governments restricting or eliminating the use of equipment from countries deemed a potential threat, on their networks. 5G security architecture is being adjusted  to allow as much metadata as possible be collected for mass surveillance purposes.

Health concerns. There are a number of health concerns surrounding 5G technology — some are unfounded, but the concerns were real enough for Belgium to block a 5G trial in Brussels because of its radiation laws. The Swiss Telecommunications Association (ASUT) has said that studies have been unable to find any adverse health effects in using 5G. Despite that, 180 scientists and doctors from 36 countries sent a letter to the European Union demanding a moratorium on 5G coverage in Europe until the potential health hazards are fully understood.

Security concerns. A paper released by ETH Zurich, University of Lorraine and Dundee University alerted that 5G could usher in a new era of security threats. They claim that the technology is immature and insufficiently tested. Furthermore, it enables the movement of and access to higher quantities of data, thus broadening attack surfaces. The rapid increase of connected devices, from 7 billion today to 21.5 billion in 2025, will result in a proportionate increase of DDoS attacks, crypto-jacking and other cyberattacks. Security companies are advising personalized and mixed security deployments against massive DDoS attacks that are inevitable on 5G networks.

Despite these concerns, 5G is expected to revolutionize mobile connectivity for businesses as well as consumers. Rahi Systems is keeping an eye on developments and will be prepared to help organizations take advantage of the potential benefits 5G has to offer.

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