Private 5G networks promise to offer low latency, high reliability, and support for massive numbers of connected devices, but enterpise deployment has been slower than expected, experts say, due to the pandemic and a slow-to-evolve device ecosystem.
IDC reports that the global private LTE and 5G wireless infrastructure market totaled $1.8 billion in revenue in 2021 and will increase to $8.3 billion by 2026, but that spending will grow “slower than expected” in the next couple of years.
“They’re still monkeying with the protocols for the massive machine connections and low latency,” says Forrester analyst Andre Kindness. “The hardware is still being developed, the chip sets are still being developed.”
Price is also an issue. Since the hardware is new, the economies of scale haven’t kicked in yet. And if a 5G project uses licensed spectrum, then there are the connectivity costs. “Do you want to be charged for every light or thermostat and pay for that connection?” Kindness says.
Finally, 5G skill sets aren’t there yet, either, and the talent that exists is mostly tied up working directly for the telcos.
“For the last three years, companies have been pushed by equipment manufacturers and telcos that 5G is the be-all and end-all of everything,” Kindness says. “But I would put a critical eye around it.”