The global COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected businesses across the world. This situation does not present an insurmountable challenge though. We are now noticing that the scale of impact varies across countries and industries. The timeline and duration of impact also varies across businesses. While there are multiple views expressed by industry experts and analysts on the manifestation of this impact, what is certain is that the pandemic has changed the way we do business. In this point of view, we examine how COVID-19 impacts the 5G rollout and service offerings of Communications Service Providers, and the adoption of 5G across industry verticals.
Impact on Communication Service Providers (CSP) Business
This section examines the impact in the 5G rollout and service offerings of the Communications Service Providers (CSP). The year 2019 was when many CSPs around the world started trials and rollouts of 5G networks. Several countries were busy getting ready for the rollouts by way of spectrum auctions, infrastructure contracts, and other readiness initiatives. Cut to 2020, and we are seeing some impact on both rollouts as well as readiness for 5G. While some countries have delayed their spectrum auctions, a few others have brought in regulations relating to prioritization of spend. As a foremost, CSPs have an immediate responsibility of enabling remote working and connectivity for citizens, providing extensions to data consumption packages and facilitating additional quota during the lockdowns globally.
Due to the global lockdowns brought on by COVID-19, and further developments in economic situations, here are some likely impact predictions:
Reduction in spends, and limited workforce to roll-out will create impacts such as:
Once the economy comes out of the COVID-19 situation, CSPs are expected to invest in service offerings that will enable the new ways of working across industries. There will be a renewed focus on IoT, AR/VR, SD-WAN and the likes, all of these powered by a strong 5G network. Again, this will be a performance and capacity-based spend, rather than a blanket coverage, some services will be as follows:
While the communications industry will see a dip in the very short term, it will be the first to start showing signs of recovery. There will be an increased deployment in 5G network and 5G-related services over the next year and a half.
Impact on other industries
This section looks at how all industry verticals will likely leverage the COVID-19 situation to expedite their 5G-based technology investment for running their operations. There are a few common areas of interest across industries that encourage the use of 5G technology. This is the primary outcome due to social distancing, containment, and work-from-home arrangements. Social distancing, workspace impact, and associated disruptions have increasingly triggered a rethink on operating models within enterprises.
In addition to the remote workspace related investments as stated above, it is anticipated that a number of vertical industry specific changes will trigger 5G investments. Technology areas such as IIoT, AR/VR, Robotics, Drones, Computer Vision are some examples that demand an underlying 5G network. Possible investments from each of the industries is as follows:
In sum up, there will now be a big push toward IoT, AR/VR, computer vision, autonomous systems, and robotics across industries, powered by 5G. While there are a lot of uncertainties and slowdowns across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we may just see a silver lining at the end of it, or rather as we adapt to the new normal of things. There is new investment expected in technologies associated with 5G and these investments will change the way the industry runs its operations.
Vice President & 5G Business Head
Viswanathan Ramaswamy has over 3 decades of industry experience in the telecommunications space, ranging from R&D to project implementation to network operations. Currently, Vishy is a Vice President at Wipro and heads the 5G business globally, across industry verticals. He leads all the initiatives in 5G, including autonomous networks, network analytics, network services, edge computing solutions, network security, and industry applications of 5G. Prior to this, he had been handling technology solutions & global practice for the CSP industry, responsible for building capabilities, engaging in consulting & delivery assignments with communications industry customers in initiatives such as digital transformation, IT/Network convergence, network modernization, SDN/NFV and so on. In his role, he participates in industry forums and events across the world and regularly meets customers and industry analysts. Before rejoining Wipro, Vishy was Senior Vice President in charge of Technology Strategy & Architecture, and CTO for B2B Business at Vodafone India. Vishy has built many technology practices and has led businesses during his industry journey spanning three decades. He holds a Master’s degree in Electronics and a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering.