Carriers converged on Singapore last week to discuss the state of the industry and plans for 5G. Singapore remained the same as ever. Hot and humid weather dominated the banking and shopping mecca in SE Asia. The global slowdown is being felt there, particularly in the continued slide in housing prices, which peaked here in 2013.
Amid this environment, most major APAC Carriers don’t plan to roll out commercial 5G services until 2020. Highlighting the need for continued technical trials, finding the elusive 5G killer app, and the continuing evolution of 5G standards, the APAC Carriers showed little resolve to push 5G commercially prior to 2020.
This gives Carriers time to figure out two important pieces of the business plan to ensure that 5G services are successful: IoT and virtualization. With regard to IoT, Carriers are partnering with businesses in several verticals like healthcare, industrial, energy, and agriculture to prove how the economics of IoT can transform these industries to make crop yields, energy consumption, freight delivery, and remote health diagnostics more efficient and effective. But these millions of IoT devices are both opportunity and threat. Particularly, threats for these devices to become infected with malicious bots, which then in turn attack the network.
This brings us to the other key cog in the 5G wheel: virtualization. As Carriers, to prepare for IoT they also need to change the way they construct their networks and move from hardware intensive to software intensive solutions. Security is one of those applications that is evolving to virtual solutions to meet these demands.
Virtual instances of detection will be required to sit on these new IoT application networks and monitor for malicious bot activity. Virtual mitigation will be required to elastically spin up added mitigation capacity when a large scale DDoS attack takes place (like the recent 600G botnet attack on the Krebs on Security website). In addition, SDN applications will be required to automate and scale policy across the network and assure consistent security SLAs are met.
Lots of changes are coming in 5G to transform the network and provide the agile and scalable security required in this new world. It’s good that the 5G industry has a few years to work out all these issues.