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23. 4. 2020

We rarely ever pass a day without hearing about the abbreviation “5G.” It is supposed to be a revolution, enabling us to have all the amazing things of the future, such as self-driving cars, robotic surgeries, etc.

However, the reality is quite different. Operators are building the network very slowly because they are struggling to find suitable business models that would enable them to sell 5G to the customers while justifying considerable investments that are necessary to start a new technology. With the previous generation (4G or LTE), the business model was clear: fast distribution of a high-quality mobile internet over Czech territory. Furthermore, the government also helped significantly with the distribution of LTE.

With 5G, we see a much more careful approach. Considerable pressure is being placed from the political sphere, which hopes that the network will bring new tech investments into the technological development sphere of Europe. Nevertheless, operators remain careful so far with spending billions for a network when it is unclear which business models will force the customers to buy and use it. In Europe, it is in Finland, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland where the process of putting up 5G is the most progressive. However, they use 5G mostly as a substitution for a fixed-line network. It is mostly used in places where it would be too expensive to provide a fast fixed-line network in a house or apartment. This is certainly attractive and a step forward, but it is still far from futuristic technological conveniences that is expected by architects of the European telecommunication policy.

The biggest problem for 5G networks will be finding the correct business model. We often hear about the network being a great thing for the Internet of Things because it enables us to connect many small devices and gather big amounts of data. But a recent study shows that majority of participating companies do not perceive the Internet of Things like this or do not even know about it.

Safety of 5G networks is currently a very important topic.

Even the European Union is now dealing with problems of security with 5G networks. Based on a suggestion from the European Commission from this March, the member states released a report on an appraisal of risks in the area of the cyber security of the fifth-generation networks, supported by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA). It points out the major threats, the most endangered devices, the principal weak points (including technical and other vulnerable points) and many other strategical risks.

The integrity and accessibility of 5G networks will become one of the major security challenges for the European Union, among them, privacy protection for example. The European Union is therefore about to agree on a set of measures to deal with potential risks in the area of cyber security at both internal and European level.

Even the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic has finished its 5G strategy. The focal point of the strategy will be the possibility to influence industrial applications such as Industry 4.0, Smart City, intelligent transportation systems, e-health, e-education, smart agriculture, etc. One of the Czech priorities is to resolve how to support and accelerate the building of 5G network and how to use 5G network in the area of developing Industry 4.0 and artificial intelligence applications.

Analysis – Adéla Klečková, Roman Máca; October 2019

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