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Taking a survey on a tablet, with 5G in the background

Molex Releases State of 5G Survey Report

March 16, 2021
While 5G is coming, COVID-19, cost and availability are crutches.

As often advertised, 5G will be the next big thing in automation, IoT and the idea of the “connected plant,” but how close are we to accessing all the data and speed benefits to this seemingly ghostly technological standard? What do R&D, engineering and stakeholders think of the slow expansion? And what’s the outlook for 5G applications?

Molex commissioned Dimensional Research to conduct a survey of 207 individuals in a R&D, engineering or stakeholder role at a network carrier in February 2021. Molex recently released the survey report titled “Timing is Everything: Carrier and the State of 5G.”

The consumer electronics market has long been expected to pave the road of 5G networks, with some carriers rolling out now.

As the technology progresses, we’ll see 5G switch from consumer-oriented augmented reality (AR) to industrial-focused AR and more secure networks. But when?

46% of survey respondents said their company was far behind their 2020 5G deployment plan (9%) or a little behind (37%). With many production and R&D operations coming to a screeching halt in mid-2020, and then stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines in late 2020, deployment of 5G experienced a slower rollout. 54% of respondents said COVID-19 delayed deployment.

Of course, we can’t blame slow adoption of 5G all on COVID. With 5G comes a lot of questions—questions that will be difficult, if not impossible to answer—at the beginning of its life. With most new technologies, there is a pricey upfront cost, and the ROI is hard to show. 41% of respondents said cost, availability and optimization of use across available is a challenge.

In an industry that likes to lead by example, the lack of use cases has hindered the delivery of 5G (31% of respondents noted).

Other top challenges included regional regulations (30%), difficult-to-find engineering talent (28%), vendors’ resistance to support open and flexible networks (26%) and mmWave propagation issues (26%).

When it comes to leveraging 5G to boost IIoT efforts, a use case will go a long way toward proving real-world application. When posed the question, respondents said the primary use case for industrial 5G networks will come from robotics (45%), logistics (43%), factories (35%), process control (32%) and smart grid (30%).

With a lot of questions about network security, the medical industry is expected to be last to adopt 5G, with 54% of survey takers stating they think 5G will come to the medical industry in two to five years.

Hope is certainly not lost on 5G, however. Many are enthusiastic for what it will offer in the near future.

92% of respondents expected to achieve 5G business goals within five years. Larger carriers reported a focus on generating new revenue streams while supporting existing business to reduce operational costs and accommodate increasing demand (65%).

“The 5G market is nearing an inflection point as carriers report steady progress despite continued challenges,” said Aldo Lopez, president of Datacom Solutions, Molex, in a press release. “Fully realizing 5G’s potential will transform multiple industries and markets.”

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