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Top 10 telecoms and mobile stories of 2020

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 telecoms and mobile stories of 2020

Looking back to December 2019, the following 12 months were really supposed to establish 5G as a permanent fixture in global communications markets and realising the potential in the many use cases that 5G was intended to make good on. Prime examples were autonomous vehicles and telehealth.

But health issues of another kind have led to a year that, although not throwing a massive spanner in the works for 5G, have led development onto unintended path.

Despite the fears of many that 5G roll-outs would be delayed or just not possible – due mainly to the adverse economic conditions caused by Covid-19 and simply not being able to get infrastructure construction workers to work – the year has actually witnessed increased 5G investment during the pandemic, rising by double digits compared with 2019’s forecast and with 5G-related jobs set to soar.

Indeed, a December 2020 study released by Qualcomm Technologies forecast a potential 5G-related boom over the next 15 years despite the pandemic’s effects on the global economy, with a 10.8% net increase in global 5G investment compared with the 2019 forecast, and a rise in 5G-related jobs to 22.8 million by 2035.

Yet one issue for the telecoms market at large during the year has been the fact that, at times, it struggled to cope with the changing consumption patterns and increased volumes of traffic caused by the pandemic. Also, there has been the soon-to-be-costly issue of removing Huawei equipment from operators’ networks.

These issues won’t go away in the new normal – evolving pandemic policies will mean shifting consumer patterns just as nets are being upgraded to 5G. Even though the picture surrounding health and business will hopefully improve, providers must still be able to adapt or they will lose customers.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 telecoms and mobile stories of 2020:

1. UK government sets out 5G tech diversification strategy

Second reading of the Telecoms Security Bill outlines specific measures to restrict the use of Huawei’s goods, services and facilities in 5G networks and details of the new 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy designed to build a resilient, open and sustainable comms tech supply chain.

2. Faster-than-predicted growth for 5G with 3.5 billion subs forecast by 2026

Despite uncertainties caused by Covid-19, new research from Ericsson reveals that the pace of introducing new 5G functionality has increased in 2020.

3. Nokia, Elisa and Qualcomm claim 5G speed record with 8Gbps connectivity in Finland

Combined speeds from two devices hit 8Gbps on a commercial 5G network on mmWave spectrum, showing support for low-latency, high-bandwidth services such as high-speed video downloads and virtual and augmented reality.

4. 5G defies Covid to stay set to transform industries across the board

Despite fears of a halt to development, study sees increased 5G investment during the pandemic, with 5G-related investment rising by double digits compared with 2019 forecast and 5G-related jobs set to soar.

5. 5G-powered manufacturing, construction and agriculture to lead £15bn in UK growth

Research finds full realisation of 5G could deliver significant additional economic growth for the UK, with three industries accounting for more than three-quarters of projected business.

6. Huawei predicts golden decade for advanced comms

Huawei chiefs predict bright times ahead for 5G market, with evolved standard imminent offering improved real-time interaction experiences for individual users and new scenarios.

7. 5G, IoT technology to transform health and social care

Research from UK operator shows how advanced connected technologies offer a pathway to a flexible model of healthcare delivered at the point of patient need.

8. Belfast Harbour steams ahead to UK and Ireland’s first 5G private network for ports

5G private network accelerates Belfast Harbour’s ambition to become the world’s best regional smart port, stimulating innovation across transport, logistics, public safety, physical security and sustainability.

9. UK comms task force leader warns of East v West 5G standards battle

UK Parliament told of long road ahead to rectify “market failure” of lack of diversity in essential communications technology supply lines and of need to reassert influence in global standards.

10. Verizon goes global with private 5G network

US comms giant spreads wings to offer private 5G capabilities to enterprises in Europe and Asia-Pacific deal.

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