Are verticals interested in 5G at all?
Apr 30, 2019 by Manuel R. Marti


If you’ve been to a telecoms event over the last few years, chances are you heard the phrase “5G aims to cover a wider set of use cases”.

People claim that 5G rollouts will open doors to new opportunities in verticals, like agriculture, smart cities, utilities, manufacturing and beyond. But to what extent is this true?

There seems to be a standoff between mobile operators and other industries, both looking to acquire new spectrum.

UK regulator Ofcom recently organised a workshop on wireless innovation in manufacturing and health, in a bid to reconcile them. At the event, I spoke to consultants, academics, civil servants… but not a single vertical representative.

A few speakers at the workshop argued telecoms and other industries must “speak the same language” in order to create a fruitful relationship. The problem may be that the full range of possible verticals is rarely represented in 5G discussions or the standardisation process.

Some sectors, like public safety, and some countries like Germany, are more actively engaged than others, although it all seems to be in the early stages.

Secondly, not all 5G verticals are the same, even though they do band together to lobby more effectively for their shared interests.

They are potential new markets for the next generation of wireless technology, but their characteristics and needs are rather different.

In France, no frequencies are due to be reserved for the country’s industrial players in an upcoming auction because they have apparently shown little interest in acquiring private licences.

Speaking to the news agency Agence France-Presse, the secretary of state for economy and finance Agnes Pannier-Runacher said the lack of clear demand for private 5G spectrum means there will be no dedicated allocation for third parties. Instead, the regulator will grant licences exclusively to mobile carriers. 

As discussions around 5G verticals continue, could it be non-vertical players who have the biggest impact on 5G?•