5G adoption delayed by European network strategy decision makers


The facts and figures*:

  • Almost seventy percent (68%) of Western European organisations do not currently have 5G as a part of their cellular or mobile network services infrastructure

  • A quarter (25%) of European NSDMs are not currently interested and do not have plans to move to 5G

  • Nearly half (47%) of organisations said they had given 5G consideration and decided against adoption

  • When asked why they had no interest or plans to move to 5G, 58% flagged they were happy with their organisation’s current network infrastructure and three fifths (61%) cited budget concerns as a reason for their inertia

  • Two fifths (44%) of NSDMs said they would wait for 5G to develop as a technology before considering using it within their organisation

  • Just 1% of Western European organisations currently have more than half their cellular infrastructure based on 5G. However this figure is expected to increase to 27% within the next two years


The value of 5G for organisations currently on the fence…

While every company is on a different journey with regards to their use and adoption of 5G, it is surprising to see current level of inertia in Europe. Research has shown the importance of real-time communications that 5G brings, along with supporting process evolution. 5G’s higher data speeds, lower latency and higher device capacity is set to transform several industries across a multitude of use cases, and new products coming to market can deliver the fast and always-on, secure connectivity needed for next generation mission and business-critical applications.

European organisations that are unsure about adopting 5G must think bigger than just the smartphone. 5G will enable a much broader ecosystem of communication devices and sensors to be utilised and will therefore reduce the total cost of ownership. Upgrading to 5G also means that networks can handle large volumes of data with much faster response times. This change will bolster operations by allowing for network slicing on a single network, supporting historically conflicting use cases on a single network, including – for example – the remote control of trains and buses travelling at speed. The transportation is just one industry that is set to benefit from the technology as we herald a new dawn for public and private connectivity, with 5G being able to deliver the performance needed to connect medical devices in emergency vehicles, utilise autonomous robots in factories, and provide high performance backup connectivity to a range of businesses.


Migrating from 4G and how 5G is arriving in a series of waves…

Like many other foundational elements of the tech landscape, 5G isn’t arriving in a “big bang” but as a series of waves. As with 3G and 4G before it, 5G is following a path to commercialisation that reflects what’s easiest to deployIn 2021, we will begin to see the rise of Wave 4, which will encompass the use of 5G to extend existing Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) Internet of Things (IoT) applications. These applications – and the IoT edge devices they depend on – have a wide range of requirements and use cases that 5G will address in different ways.

This fourth wave will primarily support Massive, Machine-Type Communication (mMTC) IoT use cases using LPWA technologies, which are designed for IoT applications that require low-cost devices, low-power usage, and a large number of connected edge devices in a given area. Organisations that begin the rollout of 5G today will be able to facilitate a smooth transition from 4G for their applications and mMTC, while also taking advantage of any future enhancements in the technology via software updates. Given this, rather than wait, enterprises should move ahead with any mMTC-type IoT application initiatives they are currently pursuing or planning – knowing that when 5G’s enhancements to LPWA become available, they will be able to quickly update their application to benefit from these enhancements.

There are a variety of ways for enterprises to “catch the 5G wave” and companies should not “panic” and hold off on their current IoT initiatives – especially since 5G has been designed to coexist with 4G, extending 4G’s lifespan. Organisations should ask themselves what type of 5G use cases might enable them to reimagine their future and then consider providers with the knowledge, solutions, and expertise to help make the transition.


*Source: IDC Survey, sponsored by Sierra Wireless, 5G Research: Quantitative Survey Results, March 2021