The best of times, the worst of times – Charles Dickens. 5G is similar situation for operators today. 5G opens debate different from 3G. Today we don’t have answers to 5G – how is it going to evolve? New use cases for operators given the investment in 3G/4G. Software and security is largely ignored in 3G/4G.”
This was the opening address of Ajay Sunder, vice president – Telecom for Frost & Sullivan at the recently concluded Executive MindXchange co-hosted by A10 Networks. Speaking on the opportunities and challenges facing the telecom industry in 2018 and beyond, Sunder concede that 5G introduces changes like speed bump, connection density, latency, volume density and mobility.
While he concludes that 5G will eliminate the limitations of current networks – become a thing of the past as he called it – he cautions three parameters of 5G important that service providers cannot take in isolation: 1ms latency, 100 Gbps peak throughput and 1 Gbps user experience, and 1 million connections.
He warned of the complexity of the 5G IT/OT converged intelligence era. “Security has been ignored in 4G and earlier. In 5G this needs to change. The convergence of operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) creates security challenges – automating and scaling the network with enhanced security for the new use cases. He used the example of a 5G device becoming a vector for launching attacks.
Enterprises looking at 5G present security problems: disparate network configurations (implication of automation), application centricity (disparate solutions and approaches from vendors. Prospective 5G carriers face their own set of challenges including changes to mobile network operator’s (MNO) operations, higher costs than 4G network, security in the converged 5G ecosystem, and as yet to be determined overall investments required to deliver true 5G service.
In describing a future he called connected intelligence, Lee Chen, founder and CEO of A10 Networks, concedes that security configurations today vary according to the responsibility of the person or department. There is very little sharing among departments. This situation complicates the ability of the industry to provide a truly secure environment for providers, their enterprise customers, and consumers.
“We are at early stage of 5G. In the US alone, mobile operators are earmarking as much as $100 billion for their 5G deployment roadmap spanning the next three years,” Chen said.
“With the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) and with as many as 1 billion 5G devices by 2023, 5G will see a tenfold increase in data speeds. 5G security must be part of the strategy,” he advised.