The fifth generation of wireless technology (5G) has arrived and is being rolled out globally. 5G is possible because of the contributions of previous generations of wireless communications and a number of disruptive technologies, each of which must be understood at least at a high level to paint a full picture of the industry. The 5G network infrastructure market in telecom is emerging but already large and growing. Current and projected uptake estimates of 5G around the world continue to be revised upward.
Communication service providers’ network infrastructure investments are normal at any time, but during a transition from one generation to the next—in this case from 4G to 5G—the investments become even more significant. The 5G network is now dependent on software running in the cloud. Network functions have been virtualized and/or redesigned completely as cloud-native software. Cloud computing continues to develop at a quick pace, with the telecom industry learning from the experiences of web-scale companies such as Google, Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook.
New infrastructure and new architectures make the 5G network significantly different from networks of the past and enable new use cases across industries that were previously not possible. Automating the network—utilizing analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence—is increasingly important to the successful operation of the 5G network from RAN to core.
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