Aji Ed, the Chief Technology Officer at Nokia Middle East and Africa market, speaks about the opportunities involved with 5G adoption
Is 5G really ready for mass adoption?
While we see a strong initial appetite for 5G in the US, China, and South Korea, we also see a strong acceleration of 5G launches in the Middle East region this year. Globally, as of Jan 5, Nokia signed 62 5G commercial agreements and 18 networks are now live with 5G services*. In the Middle East region, as of August, Nokia’s public commercial references include Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Zain KSA (Saudi), du (UAE) and Ooredoo (Qatar).
In the region, 5G services are already available in select cities in countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar. Today, there are a limited amount of 5G devices available in the market. The mass adoption of 5G services is expected to happen when the affordability of the 5G devices become reality in the next couple of years.
What benefits does 5G bring along for end-users?
5G technology has enormous potential to transform the way people live and work as well as transform multiple sectors in the Middle East. 5G will provide ultra-high bandwidth and low latency services, as well as new applications in areas such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Energy, healthcare, education, transport, and entertainment sectors will benefit from various IoT use cases enabled by 5G.
These use cases will enhance operational efficiencies and user experiences. Nokia has been conducting successful 5G use case trials with leading operators in the Middle East. Recently, Zain Saudi Arabia and Nokia successfully demonstrated a 5G-enabled VR (Virtual Reality) advanced use case in the Mashaer area and the Holy Mosque area in Makkah. This technology allows visitors to experience Hajj remotely as if they are present on site.
How will 5G revolutionize Industry 4.0, Smart Cities and Automation?
Building on our track-record from 4G/LTE, we are engaged in a number of smart cities projects across the region, and 5G will further expand the range of applications. 5G specifically has potential in the segment of AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality) for a wide range of applications for city government services to residents, tourists, industrial use cases, among others.
AI/ML (artificial intelligence/machine learning) has a wide range of applications in video processing including public-safety, as well as preventive maintenance, improving the reliability of complex systems. We at Nokia have reinvented our company over the last few years – from “connecting people” to “connecting the world”.
What are the key security concerns surrounding 5G?
The challenging nature of 5G networks to support unique and diverse business requirements of various sectors have rendered current network security less than adequate. In 5G networks, reliability does not only refer to the network infrastructure but also to ensuring high connectivity, infinite capacity and coverage (and other promised 5G features) anytime and anywhere.
This implies a security makeover of how confidentiality, integrity, and availability will be maintained and managed in 5G networks. Furthermore, the complexity of securing a network has increased due to the introduction of SDN and NFV in 5G networks. Nokia’s end-to-end security solutions help mitigate these security risks in a three-step process. We collaborate with 3GPP and other specification bodies to influence the security requirements, which are then implemented into all our products by our DFSEC (design for security process).
Lastly, we have a wide range of network security solutions and services that help operators to automate and orchestrate the security requirements by consolidating network security requirements into a single operations view via our SOAR (security, orchestration, analytics, and response) approach. It leverages our best-in-class global threat intelligence repository and automated workflow management to help CISOs and CIOs develop end-to-end visibility and control on their security operations which will become far more critical as the adoption of 5G accelerates.
*Note: The original article published in the November 2019 digital issue of Arabian Reseller mentioned 45 5G commercial agreements and 11 networks live as of August 2019, which was correct at the time of going to press.