AT&T and Verizon are committed to an aggressive,
multi-city roll out plan in a race to be the first carrier to implement national
5G deployment. We see this competition play out almost daily in the news: AT&T’s
“5G E” is slower than Verizon 4G
,  Verizon
declares 5G war on AT&T
, Verizon
inks a deal with the NFL to bring 5G to stadiums
, and so forth. And yet, despite
this newsworthy competition between telecom giants, we still have a limited
understanding of the benefits and risks of 5G.

There are the obvious benefits – faster service, for one – and risks, like insufficient security infrastructure. But what about other, less considered factors that can impact 5G (both positively and negatively), such as net neutrality and wearable devices? How do they play into the risks and rewards of this communications (r)evolution?

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Net Neutrality

Currently, net neutrality in the U.S. is embroiled
in partisan politics and it’s unclear whether these regulations will be
reinstated. But operating under the current status, in which net neutrality
rules are suspended, service providers stand to profit from 5G.

[You may also like: Here’s How Carriers Can Differentiate Their 5G Offerings]

As we’ve previously
, 5G allows for service providers to “slice” portions of a
spectrum as a customizable service for specific types of devices and different
customer segments—and without net neutrality, carriers can conceivably
charge premium rates for higher quality of service. In other words, service
providers could profit by charging select industries that require large
bandwidth and low latency – like healthcare and manufacturing, for example –
higher premiums.

This premium service/premium revenue model represents a significant
ROI for carriers on their 5G infrastructure investment. Not only does slicing provide
flexibility for multi-service deployment, it enables the realization of diverse
applications on that physical resource, which helps recoup cost for the capital

[You may also like: Don’t Be a “Dumb” Carrier]

However, because implementation will be patchy, with initial focus on high-density, urban areas (versus rural populations), the so-called digital divide may very well deepen, not just for consumers but for rural industries like healthcare and agriculture as well.

Wearable Devices

IoT devices have outpaced
the human population
for the first time in history. And 5G will
undoubtedly  fan the flames of interest
in wearable devices, due to its projected speed and availability of data.  

While these devices can certainly make life easier, and even
potentially healthier (think about the ECG
on the Apple Watch!), they also carry enormous risk. Why? Because
they’re hackable
– and they contain a treasure trove of sensitive data, like your location,
health stats, and more. And the risk doesn’t only impact the individual wearing
an IoT device; enterprises are likewise at risk when their employees wear
devices at work and transmit data over office WiFi.    

[You may also like: Securing the Customer Experience for 5G and IoT]

What’s Next?

With the ever-changing nature of internet regulations and
the explosion of wearable devices, security must
be top-of-mind for service providers. Not only is security advantageous to end
users, but for the carriers as well; best-of-breed security opens the
possibility for capturing
new revenue streams

No matter the complexity of securing 5G networks, there are
solutions. For example, service providers should
differentiated security mechanisms, offering security as a service
to vertical industries, and segregating virtual network slices to safeguard
their networks. And of course, let the (security) experts help the (carrier)

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