Telcos expect high revenue from 5G, but security is a challenge

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Report highlights the security threats posed by 5G.

The global telecommunications industry is bullish on the eventual profitability of their planned 5G networks. However, a new report from the cybersecurity firm Fortinet indicates that those profits will come along with increased security risks.

These risks, the report states, must be addressed if 5G is to reach its true potential.

The report is based on a survey of telecom companies and was produced for Fortinet along with F5 Networks, NetNumber, and Palo Alto Networks. The author of the report was Jim Hodges, Principal Analyst for the research firm Heavy Reading.

Almost everyone expects growth in per-user revenues from 5G

Of those companies surveyed for the report, 90 percent expect growth in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) from their 5G investments. evenly split between private and public 5G networks.

In addition, the report found that the majority of private networks are to be managed by the operators themselves. This means that those companies could capture as much as 3/4 of the overall 5G market.

Security issues to be addressed

The greatest obstacle to realizing these economic benefits remains the vulnerability of the 5G network infrastructure.

According to the report, communication service providers (CSPs) have come to the realization that the 5G control plane will be more complex to secure and more vulnerable to attack and fraud. The vast majority of the companies surveyed (64 percent) believe that both network architecture and network operations need to be fortified.

In addition, the report indicates that CSPs need to better tailor business solutions for specific use cases. The vast majority of respondents considered such targeted customisation either critical or very important.

“Providing undifferentiated mobile connectivity services will no longer suffice,” author Hodges writes. In order to succeed, telecoms will need to create shared responsibility partnerships with other providers and enterprise customers.

Ronen Shpirer, Director Solutions Marketing at Fortinet, summed up the 5G security challenge. “The virtualized, distributed and dynamic nature of the 5G core combined with massive increases in scalability, the growing utilization of Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC), and overall critical use cases, requires strong security for the underlying infrastructure and the business use cases.”