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CIOs, senior IT management accelerate private 5G network deployment

Research of more than 200 CIOs and senior executives reveals the acceleration of private 5G networks as organisations look to improve security, reliability and speed

Further evidence for the acceleration of private 5G networks during 2021 has come in a study from technology and business solutions provider NTT, which shows that just over half of companies (51%) that are planning to deploy a private 5G network will do so within the next six to 24 months, with 30% of these respondents already deploying or in the process of deploying a private 5G network.

The report, Private 5G here and now, reveals insights from a survey of 216 CIOs and senior decision-makers from the UK, the US, Japan and Germany, examining the industry challenges around the implementation and adoption of private 5G. The report shows a significant interest in private 5G networks, with 90% of executives expecting private 5G to become the standard network choice, with the most popular reasons to implement private 5G being to improve security, reliability and speeds.

In terms of the regions where private 5G is being deployed, the study revealed that the most significant interest was from German organisations, with 40% of businesses based in the country deploying private 5G networks. This was followed by 28% of UK firms, 26% of Japanese firms and 24% of US firms.

A large majority (80%) of executives agreed that Covid-19 has made it easier to secure the budget needed for 5G deployment. This attitude was strongest in Germany (93%), followed by the US (83%), the UK (77%) and Japan (65%).

One standout finding from the survey was that security concerns are accelerating private 5G adoption. NTT noted that with ransomware on the rise, CIOs and CISOs were looking for ways to shore up their defences against increasingly sophisticated attacks. The report found that just over two-thirds of executives agreed that the security of their current infrastructure was not strong enough.

Other main pain points in terms of security included the control of enterprise data (48%), coverage and speed (43%) and the response time (latency) of their current service provider (40%). Compared with technologies such as Wi-Fi and public 5G, private 5G networks provide significantly more security capabilities.

Some 83% of executives rated improved data privacy and security as very important outcomes they expected to achieve by implementing private 5G networks. It was clear, said NTT, that CIOs want security and control while also enabling digitisation – and believe a local private 5G network will enable these critical business requirements. This is encouraging enterprises to build and run their own private 5G networks.

The report also identified a number of challenges and successful deployment strategies for private 5G. The most common barrier to deployment of private 5G networks was integrating the technology with legacy systems and networks, cited by 44%. The complexity surrounding the deployment and management of private 5G networks was also cited as another significant barrier by 37% of respondents. Employees lacking the technical skills and expertise to manage 5G networks was the third most common barrier, facing 30% of firms.

NTT concluded that this was one of the reasons why outsourcing to a managed service provider is the preferred approach by 38% of CIOs when it comes to implementing private 5G networks. It suggested buying a private 5G network as a service can accelerate time to adoption and offer a better end-user experience and return on investment.

“The research highlights that the adoption of private 5G is happening now,” said Shahid Ahmed, group EVP, new ventures and innovation at NTT. “The companies leveraging private 5G will have an unprecedented competitive advantage. Whether a company owns a factory floor, distribution centres, storefront or office space, private 5G can dramatically help digitise their businesses securely.”

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