A10 Networks survey finds Covid-19 not expected to delay 5G deployments

Gunter Reiss, Worldwide Vice President of A10 Networks

Mobile service providers say they are making substantial progress toward ushering in a new generation of 5G networks that will enable ultra-high-speed mobile connectivity and a wide variety of new applications and smart infrastructure use cases.  Progress includes steady work toward virtualising core network functions and a reexamination of the security investments they will need to protect their networks and customers. 

Covid-19 is not expected to significantly delay 5G deployments, according to a new global study report Toward a More Secure 5G World, developed by the Business Performance Innovation Network, in partnership with A10 Networks. The percentage of mobile service providers who say their companies are moving rapidly toward commercial deployment has increased significantly in the past year, climbing from 26% in a survey announced in early 2019 to 45% in the new survey. Virtually all respondents say improved security is a critical network requirement and top concern in the 5G era.

Virtually all respondents say improved security is a critical network requirement and top concern in the 5G era

Early 5G networks are being designed in accordance with the already-approved non-standalone 5G standard. However, 30% of respondents say they are already proactively planning to add standalone 5G, and another 9% say their companies will move directly to standalone. Standalone 5G will require a whole new network core utilising a cloud-native, virtualised, service-based architecture. Many respondents, in fact, say they are making significant progress toward network virtualisation. 

Key findings of the survey

  • 81% say industry progress toward 5G is moving rapidly, mostly in major markets, or is at least in line with expectations.
  • 71% expect to begin 5G network build-outs within 18 months, including one-third who have already begun or will do so in 2020.
  • 95% say virtualising network functions is important to their 5G plans, and some three-quarters say their companies are either well on their way or making good progress toward virtualisation.
  • 99% view deployment of mobile edge clouds as an important aspect of 5G networks, with 65% saying they expect edge clouds on their 5G networks within 18 months.

The industry’s top 5G challenges

  • Heavy cost of build-outs, 59%
  • Security of network, 57%
  • Need for new technical skills, 55%
  • Lack of 5G enabled devices, 42%

Importance of security to 5G

  • 99% rate security as important to their 5G planning, higher than even network reach and coverage or network capacity and throughput
  • 97% say increased traffic, connected devices and mission-critical use case significantly increase security and reliability concerns for 5G
  • 93% say their security investments are already being affected or are under reviewdue to 5G requirements

Use cases power 5G adoption

Next two years

  • Ultra-high-speed connectivity, 81%
  • Industrial automation and smart manufacturing, 62%
  • Smart cities, 54%
  • Connected vehicles

Next 5 to 6 years

  • Smart cities, 62%
  • Ultra-high-speed connectivity, 59%
  • Connected Vehicles, 57%
  • Industrial automation and smart manufacturing, 42%

“Mobile operators globally need to proactively prepare for the demands of a new virtualised and secure 5G world,” said Gunter Reiss, Worldwide Vice President of A10 Networks, a provider of secure application services for mobile operators worldwide. “That means boosting security at key protection points like the mobile edge, deploying a cloud-native infrastructure, consolidating network functions, leveraging new CI/CD integrations and DevOps automation tools, and moving to an agile and hyperscale service-based architecture as much as possible. All of these improvements will pay dividends immediately with existing networks and move carriers closer to their ultimate goals for broader 5G adoption and the roll-out of new and innovative ultra-reliable low-latency use cases.”