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Hastened by the Pandemic, Global Enterprises Increase Investments in Advanced Wireless

Businesses around the world are rapidly shifting their focus to 5G, Wi-Fi 6 to accelerate innovation and digital transformation

Published: 15 July 2021

Spurred by the realities of the pandemic, global enterprises are turning even more to next-generation wireless technologies such as 5G and Wi-Fi 6 to keep employees, machines and customers connected around the world. By offering significant performance improvements—such as faster speeds, increased coverage, lower latency, greater device density, and precise location sensing—these new wireless technologies are already enabling groundbreaking solutions, such as autonomous vehicles, precision automation and robotics, telemedicine and telesurgery, immersive retail and entertainment experiences, and augmented-reality workplace collaborations.

To obtain a global perspective on the adoption of advanced wireless solutions, and assess attitudes during the pandemic crisis, Deloitte surveyed networking executives in Q4 2020 from nine countries (China, India, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Brazil, and Australia), representing organizations adopting or planning to adopt 5G and/or Wi-Fi 6. Titled, “Accelerating enterprise innovation and transformation with 5G and Wi-Fi 6 , this survey builds on a US study conducted in Q1 2020 of networking executives whose organizations are adopting or planning to adopt 5G and/or Wi-Fi 6.

Business priorities shifted by the pandemic

Global networking executives surveyed report that the COVID-19 crisis has spurred their organization to accelerate investment in wireless networking in order to better address current and future disruptions, as well as create new solutions and offerings.

"China has utilized 5G in a variety of crisis-related solutions aimed at limiting physical interactions; including hospital robots that performed disinfection and medicine deliveries and driverless vehicles that delivered food and medical supplies to quarantined individuals. Companies have also leveraged the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G networks for telehealth, including remote medical consultation and diagnosis of COVID-19 and remote, robot-controlled ultrasounds," said Taylor Lam, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry Leader at Deloitte China. "There's also a clear trend of parallel 5G and Wi-Fi 6 adoption in China, where 70% of respondents have adopted 5G solutions and 72% are running pilots or deploying Wi-Fi 6. Both figures are among the highest in the world. Looking ahead, 5G and Wi-Fi 6 can complement one another seamlessly, empowering a vast range of industries with applications ranging from industrial internet and IoT, to smart healthcare, smart driving, and much more."

“A rising sense of urgency, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, is now accelerating the shift to 5G and Wi-Fi 6 far faster across a variety of industries, with executives now seeing advanced wireless networks as increasingly essential to their business plans,” said Kevin Westcott, Deloitte Global Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment leader. “Those enterprises that are making advanced wireless a critical component of their infrastructure and innovation strategies, versus a discrete consideration or an afterthought, will likely experience tremendous growth potential and, accordingly, position themselves to compete more effectively on the world stage.”

Advanced wireless foundational to innovation and transformation

Networking executives expect next-gen wireless to be integral to their business success and transformational for both their enterprises and industries, representing an opportunity to change how they operate, innovate, and sell. In fact, networking executives surveyed view advanced wireless technologies as a foundational necessity for implementing the technologies that will drive digital transformation.

  • Eight in 10 surveyed believe advanced wireless will transform their organization within three years, and seven in 10 believe it will transform their industry in the same timeframe.
  • The desire to take advantage of new technologies such as AI, big data analytics, and edge computing is a top driver for advanced wireless adoption (up from #3 in the US study), tied with improving efficiency.
  • At least eight in 10 view advanced wireless as very/extremely important to their organization’s ability to implement these new technologies.
  • Seventy-six percent believe their company can create a significant competitive advantage by leveraging advanced wireless.

“While innovation and digital transformation are desired business outcomes of advanced wireless networking adoption, there are also tremendous advantages for the people running the business – the employees, customers and partners,” says Jack Fritz, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “The Deloitte survey found adopters are using 5G and Wi-Fi 6 both inside and outside the office for a variety of reasons, but the enhancement of workplace communication, collaboration and productivity is particularly timely and relevant since connectivity is crucial for remote work and business continuity during a crisis like the current pandemic.”

A complex, evolving ecosystem

Deloitte’s survey also found that the ecosystem surrounding advanced wireless technologies is multifaceted, fluid and ever-growing. Adopters are engaging with myriad telecom and technology vendors and often with multiple vendors of each type.

  • On average, advanced wireless adopters engage with about eight of nine vendor types, including application and cloud providers, wireless carriers, consultants and integrators, equipment manufacturers, and infrastructure providers.
  • Two-thirds of adopters prefer to purchase at least some best-of-breed components, and many are likely to seek help with integration.
  • Seven in 10 adopters indicate they’re open to exploring new vendor relationships.

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