While the rollout of 5G has taken an unsuspected hit following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, some companies are forging forward nonetheless. Countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia are moving ahead with installing new cellular networks.
In Saudi Arabia, telecom firm Zain has accelerated the rollout of its 5G network to cover 38 cities across the Kingdom as of this September. By December of 2019, UAE 5G coverage had already reached 80% in cities.
The reasons for this are obvious. 5G brings with it massive potential, and makes technological advancements like the Internet of Things (IoT), self-driving vehicles, and other breakthrough developments possible.
Just like companies are often rated based on their 5G maturity, so are companies. A recent study by Nokia, one of the largest 5G equipment vendors in the world, identified the five stages of 5G maturity that companies rank at. This same study also found that Saudi Arabia is leading the race in 5G maturity internationally, with 13% of Saudi companies rated as 5G mature, meaning they have deployed and are planning to expand their 5G networks.
The five stages of 5G maturity
1. Passive: the business has not explored 5G implementation in any formal sense; 5G has not been raised at a senior level
2. Discovery: the business is exploring the benefits of 5G and / or are gathering evidence to determine whether there is a business case for implementation
3. Planning: at a senior level, the business has agreed to implement 5G or to lay the foundations for doing so in the future, and work is now underway to make this happen
4. Implementation: the process of physically implementing 5G hardware and software has begun or in progress, and the business is either already using 5G, or will start doing so in the next six months
5. Expansion: the business has successfully implemented 5G; it has measured its impact and based on positive results is looking to expand its use more widely into operations
“5G is a key tool for industry 4.0 acceleration, and the companies most advanced in their digitalization journeys are likely to be most mature when it comes to 5G, which is one of many digitalization aspects fueling growth and positive business outcomes,” the report noted. “However, these findings show that the companies who are most 5G mature, and therefore likely also the most advanced in their digital transformation, are showing the highest impact in overall business performance.
“This suggests that companies which are delaying their 5G implementation may be missing out on important benefits, including the ability to overcome the challenges of the ongoing pandemic. That correlation was also evident in sub-categories: both the market (Saudi Arabia) and the industry (healthcare) with the highest proportion of 5G mature companies also had the largest share of growing companies in each case (83% and 80% respectively, compared to an overall average of 73%).”
Where does your company rank on this meter?