Technology today is evolving at such a rapid pace, enabling faster change and progress, causing an acceleration of the rate change, until eventually, it will become exponential.  For most organizations, the COVID –pandemic exposed the gaps in their digital capabilities. They were confronted with new challenges in customer experience, work collaboration, marketing and among other. As business continues to pursue digital transformation initiatives to overcome such challenges, there will be a heightened demand for specific technological capabilities in 2021. The pandemic gave rise to a centralized focus on technology and people amidst workplace evolution in organization. Most companies had to shift their summits, conferences and client interactions to digital. Collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Hangouts have been in this transition. To adapt to the new normal, business will need to focus on the future of work that enables operational scalability and flexibility. Remote working has emerged as one of the significant technology trends to look forward to in 2021. A Gartner survey revealed that over 74% of CFOs plan to permanently shift employees to remote work post- COVID 19.  Some business have spent the last year investing in technology that enables virtual collaboration. They will undergo a seamless transition from offices to work-from-anywhere. For Instance: global IT leader TCS is planning to shift 75% of its workforce to a work-from-anywhere setting by 2025. In 2021, communication technologies, cybersecurity, intelligence networks, cybersecurity mesh, blockchain, hybrid cloud, edge computing, artificial intelligence and remote-friendly work policies will be critical to driving this digital transformation. This shift to Work-From-Home has placed a significant burden on the Telecom Infrastructure; however the increasing shift to 5G Technology will alleviate the majority of this load.

The same is the case with the telecom and communication industry, which is the lifeline of the businesses of all types. One can safely assume that most of the telecom trends in 2021 will be guided by the demands and challenges created by the ongoing pandemic.  As of now, the success of remote working depends on mainly two factors such as effective collaboration and communication. With more and companies opting for remote work, cloud –based telecom providers are stepping up their game by introducing small feature that will enhance internal collaboration among teams. Call comments, shared call logs are few features that ensure friction-free and smooth collaboration between team members establishing a clear workflow. Also, today’s communication service providers face increasing customer demands for higher quality service and better customer experience. Companies are addressing these opportunities by leveraging the vast amounts of data collected over the years from their massive customer base. The data is culled from networks, devices, geo-locations, mobile applications, service usage, detailed customer profiles and billing data. Telecoms are harnessing the power of AI to analyze and process these huge volumes of big data in order to extract actionable insights to offer better customer experiences, increase revenue and improve operations through new products and services.  Also, the 2020 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital transformation strategies by companies combined with the increased adoption of technologies such as 5G in particular

Comparison of Telecom Networks









200Mbps to 1Gbps

1Gbps and Higher


Digital Cellular

Broadband CDMA, IP

Unified IP & seamless combination of broadband LAN, WAN, WLAN, PAN













Circuit & Packet

Packet except circuit for air interface



Core Network

PSTN and Packet network

Packet Network





Horizontal & Vertical

Horizontal & Vertical

Horizontal & Vertical


Digital voice and short messaging, packetized data

Integrated high quality audio, video and data

Dynamic information access, wearable devices

Dynamic information access, wearable devices with AI capabilities

Covid -19 Regulatory framework initiatives for the ICT sector

The covid-19 outbreak has led to significant disruptions in economic activity which has had an impact on all industries, albeit at different levels. To mitigate the impact of the pandemic, different ICT stakeholders have implemented various initiatives and steps in the areas of traffic management and prioritization, broadband availability, emergency communications, quality of experience and service. These responses include broadband speeds, capacity, providing free services to customers, providing information services on COVID-19, managing networks, allowing more flexible use of international mobile telecommunication spectrum. Also, it helps to provide free access to online learning, easing regulatory requirements on licenses, proving new fixed wireless access networks, addressing misinformation in relation to covid-19, developing tracing and subsidizing broadband services. 

To provide easy access to this information, International Telecommunication Unit created the Global Network Resiliency platform (REG4COVID), where ICT regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders can share information and view initiatives and measures introduced across the world to help ensure communities to remain connected during the pandemic crisis. In the Asia-Pacific region, approx. 40% of countries have made submissions to the platform, with Indonesia, China, Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, Pakistan, Thailand, and Islamic Republic of Iran having submitted more than two initiatives across four or more different areas, as mentioned below. 
  • In India: The government has developed open-source applications through which messages can be sent to target groups with a view of combating Covid-19. Other steps taken by the government to enhance digital connectivity include the de-licensing of 600 MHz spectrum for Wi-Fi and infrastructure -sharing policies particularly in rural areas and the introduction of right-of-way policies to reasonable price. Steps have also been taken to enhance regional connectivity among members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) using very-small -aperture -terminal geostationary satellites, with the help of national and international long-distance operators.

  • In Thailand: The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commissions has worked with five telecommunication service providers to offer an extra 10 GB free of charge to mobile phone users currently on internet packages of no more than 10 GB , to automatically upgrade to 100 Mbit/s all fixed broadband uses currently on speeds below 100 Mbit/s for 30 days from 10 April 2020, and to offer 100 minutes of voice calls for 45 days free of charge for mobile users valid for one number per operator. 

  • In the republic of Nepal: The government is playing a key supporting role. During the pandemic, people have migrated to digital platforms in all areas, including health, education, banking, and business. The Nepal telecommunications Authority has created the Rural telecommunication Development fund to minimize the digital divide by establishing Wi-Fi hotspots and supporting broadband penetration in government rural schools, municipalities etc. 

  • Rise of OpenRAN: OpenRAN is the latest technology that is gathering increasing momentum in the telecom industry. OpenRAN has defined an initiative way in order to build 3G, 4G and 5G RAN solutions which are based on a general-purpose vendor-neutral hardware and software-defined technology. OpenRAN lowers the barriers for the operators and provide with low cost for building mobile networks. It also reduces the level of complexity by de-coupling the hardware and software components of the network, and decreasing the massive expenditure incurred on network infrastructure. In January 2020, the U.S. government introduced a bill which includes the investment of more than $1 billion 5G-related research and development in open RAN technologies. This investment will further accelerate 5G Deployment for U.S. companies as an alternative to Huawei and ZTE. 

Thus, industry stakeholders and economies have been very active in implementing emergency responses to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.  These regulatory frameworks are also set to enhance the 5G deployment in the midterm.

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State of 5G Deployment

Fifth Generation communication is the successor of the 4G communication system and was deployed in 2019. The typical parameters for 5G standard includes 10,000 time higher capacity, peak data rate up to 1Gbps, cell edge data rate of 100Mbps and latency less than 1ms. The key areas of research being explored by the major players of the market for 5G standard includes millimeter wave technology, 5G waveforms, multiple access schemes, enhanced modulation, duplexing techniques, massive MIMO and highly dense network. The deployment of 5G network has utilized the formation of more intelligent architecture, with Radio Access Networks (RANs) that is no longer constrained by base station proximity or complex infrastructure. Currently extensive field testing is being performed to set the 5G standards and the technology’s viability. 

Mobile Subscriptions, By Technology, 2021

In 2018, AT&T successfully conducted 5G streaming tests using millimeter wave technology, becoming the first company to do so. AT&T is planning to expand ultra-fast 5G network nationwide focused on sub-6 spectrum coverage.  In April 2019 Verizon followed launching 5G UWB mobile network in Chicago and Minneapolis. Also, in December 2019, Verizon announced that it has launched 5G mobile services in more than 30 US cities including Ann Arbor, Brockton, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Seattle, Sacramento, Washington DC, Atlanta and Bernardsville and so on along with 15 NFL stadiums focused on private networks as well. In South Korea, SK Telecom, launched 5G networks focused on 3.5 Ghz midband in 2019 for data-traffic-concentrated areas, for use cases in major cities and highly populated areas like universities, high-speed trains, highways and metropolitan subways. SK Telecom is also planning to expand 5G coverage to around 70 5G clusters, and will have around 7 million subscribers in the 5G segment by 2020. In April 2018, Rogers and Ericsson announced their plans to accelerate the 5G rollout across Canada. In February 2018, Sprint announced the launch of 5G in six cities including Atlanta, Dallas and Houston. In February 2018, T-Mobile announced that they would deploy a multi-band 5G network in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York. Currently, in the US, all three major operators have focused onlow-band and high-band (mmWave) spectrums only. The only carrier with significant mid-band spectrum is T-Mobile, with an average of 150 MHz of spectrum in most markets. It’s these speeds and the capacity of mid-band holdings that AT&T and Verizon are going after in the C-Band auction. However as of 2021, there is much confusion about bands, spectrum, and such, but in the long term, most consumers will be completely unaware of what flavor of 5G they are using because they will likely be using all three of them. 4G mostly relied on low-band spectrum, spanning 700 MHz to 2100 MHz. Meanwhile, 5G spans from 600 MHz to 47 GHz—a much broader array of spectrum with different characteristics.

5G Roadmap and Timeline


Impact of Covid-19 on 5G Rollout

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to force the postponement of many highly anticipated 5G spectrum auctions throughout the world. According to a recent report from S&P Global Market Intelligence, many of these actions were intended to take place in Europe and Asia. The Covid-19 pandemic has also resulted in slower rollouts of 5G Technology as infrastructure as well in addition to the auction postponements as well. This has been driven in part due to the reallocation of capital away from 5G Projects both in private and public applications. Alongside this, the supply chain limitations in the telecom sector alongside the delays in 5G Specification release have also limited the growth potential, especially in the short term.

Exceptional circumstances caused by the Covid-19 epidemic have forced some countries in Europe to postpone 5G auctions scheduled in the first months 2020. According to the 5G Action Plan of the EU, Member States are required to authorize the 700 MHz band by 2020, unless there are justified reasons for delaying it until mid-2022 at the latest. A number of countries have pushed their 5G auctions to 2022 based on this ruling. 5G spectrum auctions already took place in the three pioneer bands for 5G; all in all, at EU level, 13 countries have assigned spectrum for 5G in one or two bands. The 700 MHz band has been assigned in seven Member States so far including Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Sweden while the 3.4-3.8 GHz band has been assigned in nine MSs, in Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Spain and in the United Kingdom. The 26 GHz band has been assigned in Italy. Exceptional circumstances caused by the Covid-19 epidemic have forced some countries in Europe to postpone 5G auctions scheduled in the first months of 2020. Four EU countries, Austria, France, Spain and Portugal have postponed spectrum auctions for 5G due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The Czech Republic also postponed its process but for different reasons. In Hungary, the 5G spectrum auction was upheld. It took place just one day before tight restrictions in activities and movements. Similarly Canada has postponed its 3500MHz spectrum auction process by six months to allow telecoms companies to focus on providing essential services during COVID-19 pandemic. Similar postponements have been witnessed in India, China, U.S, Mexico, Brazil and others as well. Worldwide, only 16 markets will auction the more costly high-band spectrum. Currently, 32 markets will auction off low-band spectrum auctions (less than 1 GHz), and at least 35 markets plan to auction off mid-band spectrum at some point in the future. This has also led to cascading effect in 5G Deployment with market slowdown being witnessed in terms of deployment as well.

Proliferation of 5G technology and Services

Across the globe, telecommunication companies are racing to expand their 5G network with faster coverage and speed. The approach has already arrived in various regions, including US and Europe and will continue to expand. As per the data published by the Innovation Work Organization, in the last months of 2020, bids for 5G spectrum in the US spiraled to approx. USD 70 billion. As these networks continue to grow, expert predicts 5G to enable an array of revolutionary technologies. In 2021, IT experts expect to see 5G technology extend to services such as cloud gaming, where more interactive, realistic, multi-player games can become a reality on mobile devices. Additionally, new categories of services such as augmented reality, be enabled by the bandwidth and responsiveness offered by 5G connections are anticipated to expand. With more people working from home, a greater number of enterprises will adopt edge computing and 5G in order to improve connectivity and data storage. To expand 5G technologies, despite of global pandemic that influenced many businesses, many wireless carriers on the world spent 2020 as well as 2021 growing their 5G footprints and building out their respective networks, even with the Covid-19 related slowdown.  For Instance: in February 2021, AT&T, a Dallas-based company now covers nearly 16% of the US-based Verizon’s 5G ultra-wideband network 

Telecom Network Life Cycle


Also, enterprises are working to increase their focus on cyber security. This is a crucial force that many organizations and businesses overlooked in their rush to adopt 5G. As per the PWC Report, the boost in productivity will add a whopping USD 1.3 trillion to the global GDP by 2030. An increase in productivity resulting from 5G technologies will drive skilled services and businesses to new level. The report reveals that 5G technology used in conjunction with investments in Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence can offer the potential for the rethinking of business models, efficient and quick services and new products, with the gains accelerating as of 2025 as 5G enabled applications to become more widespread. Also, cloud gaming is also an emerging approach of applications. The combined capabilities offered by 5G networks and edge computing technologies will enable game streaming services on smartphone to complete with a quality of experience on par with console counterparts and PC, making room for immersive, innovative games based on mobility. Whereas the report is quick to caution that those prospects would also bring associated cybersecurity risks and require governments and businesses to consider new regulatory approaches focusing on the safe use of the technology. 5G has a few significant security and privacy wins, it offers security, and it encrypts identifiers and offer privacy gains such as anti-tracking features and spoofing. These capabilities can offer crucial benefits such as protecting users form manipulation and other online network threats. 

Telecom Network Commercialization

Further, telecommunication networks are evolving rapidly across a broad technological environment which includes IoT, virtualization and Industry 4.0. This is met by an equally broad yet deteriorating cybersecurity environment. Advances in technology, together with broader development of networks beyond 5G RAN are anticipated to have a crucial impact on security, such as edge computing, software-defined networking and network function virtualization. Information security is a top concern among enterprises and government organizations which are embarking on a digital transformation journey. It’s imperative, thus that IoT is secure from the start, protecting personal data, business-sensitive data and critical infrastructure. Also, 5G will expand traditional relationship between business users, consumers and mobile network operators. This expansion will include new relationships in the form of automated and digitized business processes of enterprises, control and operations of machinery of industrial sector. In addition, the cyber physical interdependency between telecommunication networks and smart connectivity of other infrastructure providers will be enabled by new ways to access the mobile network.  The 5G use cases for massive and critical machine-type communication are embodiments of new kind of payloads carried over mobile networks. 5G and related technologies are widely expected to introduce new quantitative and qualitative improvements such as faster response time, higher data rates, more devices that can simultaneously connect to a base station and higher bandwidth across a wider area of geographical coverage.

5G Enabled Services, Bandwidth Requirements



5G is more than just the next step in Telecom networking; it offers a fundamental transformation of mobile technology capability and the role the technology plays among consumers. As demand for continuous connectivity grows, 5G provides an opportunity to create a flexible, purpose-built network that can be modified and molded to cove the broad range of applications among consumers and companies. Deploying 5G allows operators to move beyond connectivity and collaborate across sectors such as BFSI, Retail, Education, Healthcare, Transportation and Industrial to provide innovative rich services to consumers and companies. It is an opportunity for a complete digital transformation of the economy, with 5G acting as a catalyst for innovation. 5G will naturally evolve from existing 4G networks, but will mark an inflection point in the future of communications. The technology will bring prompt high-powered connectivity to billions of devices. 5G is focused on capturing the way users want to live and will provide a platform on which new digital services and business models can thrive. 5G allows improved machines to machine communication without human intervention in a world where Internet of Things (IoT) is the norm and the devices are capable of driving an endless array of services. 5G will drive safer, more efficient and cost-effective transport networks with improved autonomous capability. 5G will offer improved access to medical diagnosis and treatment solutions, especially in a world halted by a pandemic, by reliably connecting patients and doctors. From low-power, sensor-driven smart parking to holographic conference calls, 5G will enable richer, smarter and more convenient living and working in a world shifting to Work at Home Policies. 5G is a giant step forward in the global race to digitize economies and societies. 5G networks will provide an enhanced broadband experience with speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second and latency of <4 milliseconds, and provide the platform for cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) -based services to be fully implemented. 5G era networks will support the massive rollout of intelligent IoT connections for a multitude of scenarios and provide an enhanced platform to support the widespread adoption of critical communications services. It is the proliferation of these auxiliary services that will enhance the increased need for 5G deployment. 

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About IndustryARC: IndustryARC is a Research and Consulting Firm that publishes more than 500 reports annually, in various industries such as Agriculture, Automotive, Automation & Instrumentation, Chemicals and Materials, Energy and Power, Electronics, Food and Beverages, Information Technology, and Life sciences and Healthcare.