Where 5G is concerned there’s a lot to be ready for: broadband, massive IoT and evolved mission-critical communications at the very least. This time around, operators are better and earlier informed about the potential of 5G than they were about the potential of, say, 2G or 3G. However, that may not be of much help when the options are so many and varied.
Which is where the vendor community comes in. Or should. Supplier leadership is still a big issue with 5G — and it’s one MNOs have been quick to flag up, pointing what they see as the lack of choice in their supply chain. The Facebook-proposed, vendor-supported Telco Infra Project, (TIP) and initiatives like xran.org are welcome indications of investment to increase the supply side but these are still in their early stages and will take time to bear fruit. Right now, delay remains a real risk. There’s also a risk of fragmentation and confusion on the OEM side on development priorities as they look for forecasts on product volume.
Not surprisingly, therefore, there were calls at the 5G World Summit for vendors to think end-to-end about what 5G can bring to end-users. And that, it would appear, applies to products across the board: from handsets to chipsets, from infrastructure to software. There is a growing consensus among operators that vendors need to raise their game.
In fairness, vendors might expect the same of MNOs. Is it really time to discuss, say, remote surgery? What are the legitimate service hopes for first phase 5G? Perhaps it’s time for everyone to raise their game.