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Global Advanced Wireless Survey
Businesses are Bullish on Advanced Wireless Tech 5G and Wi-Fi 6 Adoption
New Deloitte research suggests companies will move quickly to exploit speed and responsiveness of advanced wireless technologies including 5G and Wi-Fi 6.
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- Wireless tech transforming productivity and business pace
- The different roles of 5G and Wi-Fi 6
- Wireless tech transforming productivity and business pace
- Europe may have to accelerate 5G adoption
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Businesses in the Netherlands and other developed economies have high hopes for advanced wireless technologies: 5G and Wi-Fi 6. Many companies regard these technologies as strategically important to their business success. That is one of the key messages from in-depth global research1 by Deloitte.
To help them harness cloud services, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, enterprises plan to quickly rollout 5G and Wi-Fi 6. Almost 80% of the 437 companies interviewed by Deloitte who are deploying or planning to deploy these wireless technologies, regard them as of critical strategic importance, or very important, to business success.
Even in the Netherlands, where 5G is still in its formative stages, 56% of respondents said these technologies are very important or critically important today, and 66% said they will be in three years time. In particular, the respondents highlighted the benefits of better data speeds, coverage and responsiveness.
Wireless tech transforming productivity and business pace
Whereas you would expect the telecoms industry to be strong proponents of 5G, it is remarkable to see the enthusiasm of companies across the economy. Reflecting the impact advanced wireless technologies could have on productivity and business performance, this bullish sentiment is in marked contrast to the lukewarm uptake of 5G among consumers in many markets (see our earlier blog post for more on that).
Indeed, advanced wireless technologies look set to play a pivotal role in the fourth industrial revolution, which will see businesses make very extensive use of automation and predictive tools to optimize their operations and react faster to changes in demand.
More than three quarters (78%) of the companies interviewed by Deloitte expect next generation wireless networking technologies to substantially transform their organization within three years, with only 4% contending that 5G and Wi-Fi 6 won’t have a transformative impact. The respondents in the Netherlands were slightly more conservative with 68% expecting a transformative impact within three years.
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The different roles of 5G and Wi-Fi 6
One of the key decisions businesses will have to make is whether to focus on 5G, Wi-Fi 6 or a combination of the two. Whereas the hybrid approach will increase complexity, many large businesses are likely to use 5G for some use cases and Wi-Fi 6 for others, reflecting the different strengths and weaknesses of the two technologies. In most markets, 5G is preferred for outdoor, off-campus and mobile use cases, whereas Wi-Fi 6 is set to play a major role inside business premises. In the Netherlands, for example, 44% of respondents preferred 5G for outdoor and mobile use cases, whereas 58% opted for Wi-Fi 6 for indoor use cases.
Worldwide, the survey respondents expect to invest slightly more in cellular technologies than Wi-Fi. Among the business community in the Netherlands, the investment plans are almost 50-50, yet the Dutch respondents believe Wi-Fi 6 has an edge over 5G in many respects. Half said Wi-Fi 6 networks will be easier to control and customize, for example, while only 14% rated 5G better in this respect.
Build your own 5G connectivity or buy from a telco?
In our global survey, opinion was split on whether to employ a slice of 5G connectivity provided by a telco or to deploy a private network owned and controlled by the business itself. A large minority (41%) of the respondents said they would prefer to use a combination of the two, depending on the use case. In the Netherlands, 29% of the interviewees would prefer to have their own 5G network and a further 33% want a hybrid solution. About 40% of the Dutch respondents had concerns about the service quality and reliability, and the ongoing costs, of a public 5G slice.
Equally concerning for Dutch telcos is that they sit well down the list of influencers when it comes to guiding businesses’ choices around network generation wireless networking. Only one fifth of respondents in the Netherlands ranked telcos as the most influential source of guidance, compared with one third globally.
Those results suggest that telcos in the Netherlands (and some other developed markets) will need to work hard to convince businesses to source advanced connectivity from them, rather than employing a systems integrator to deploy their own private networks.
In light of that ambivalence, telcos should consider partnering with systems integrators to ensure they can provide businesses with the customization and control they are looking for. Although some of the largest telcos have their own systems integration divisions, most lack that kind of capability. More broadly, telcos could partner up with equipment vendors, software vendors and system integrators to provide an end-to-end solution to companies.
Europe may have to accelerate 5G adoption
Globally, businesses in the Netherlands (and Europe as whole) appear to be trailing somewhat behind their counterparts in East Asia when it comes to adopting advanced wireless technology. In China, 70% of respondents said they are running pilots or deploying 5G solutions compared with 44% in the Netherlands. However, that could reflect the fact that prime 5G spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band has yet to become available in the Netherlands.
Our research suggests the widespread availability of advanced wireless technologies could be critical to Europe’s competitiveness moving forward. In light of that, the eagerly-awaited release of the 3.5GHz spectrum in 2022 could be a catalyst for widespread adoption among Dutch companies.
 Source: In October 2020, Deloitte surveyed 437 IT and line-of-business (LOB) executives from companies that are deploying, or planning to deploy, 5G and/or Wi-Fi 6 in developed economies around the world. These executives were responsible for connectivity. 50 of the interviewees were from the Netherlands.