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5G technology challenges and other (5G survey) highlights

Do you like surveys? Limitations1 aside, surveys can provide interesting food for thought. They can confirm or make us challenge and re-evaluate our viewpoints. They can lead to fervent discussions and never-ending arguments, especially when results appear to contradict our expectations. But even if results are hardly surprising, surveys can be—with exceptions, obviously—thought-provoking.

This blog is about a recent 5G survey2, and focuses on three key survey questions. The following sections comment on the top 5G technology challenges for mobile network operators (MNOs), on what MNOs mostly need to ensure that 5G delivers, and on whether MNOs should continue to invest in 4G. Were the results surprising? Please read on to find out3.

5G technology challenges

Surprising? Probably not. The survey highlights 5G new radio (NR) as the top 5G technology challenge. But the significance of the underlying network infrastructure cannot be overlooked either. In these terms, the need to focus on the transport domain and to strengthen/update the fiber infrastructure was selected by many respondents as the highest priority for MNOs. Of course, every component of the 5G network architecture is crucial for 5G to deliver on its promise.

Mostly needed by MNOs

Surprising? Maybe not. Still, the ‘tie’ at the top is noteworthy. According to the survey, MNOs need an end-to-end view of network performance and service quality as well as an increased level of automation in all phases of 5G deployment. Both are prerequisites for the success of 5G, including 5G network slicing. In effect, respondents reiterated vital MNO priorities (and frequently commented challenges) related to 5G rollout, optimization, assurance and monetization.

4G evolution

Surprising? Definitely not. We expect 4G—as is today and through its evolution—to continue to play an important role. The survey confirms the telecoms industry expectation that 4G will be key for years, even after the 5G standalone (SA) launch. In other words, MNOs should incorporate 4G-focused investments in their overall network transformation strategy. It would still be useful to know why 11% of the survey respondents think that 4G will not be relevant for long.


The previous sections refer to only three of the 5G survey questions. For a snapshot of the 5G survey report, take a look at the relevant infographic. For the full 5G survey report, you can click here. To discuss your 5G-related challenges, please contact EXFO.

1 Every survey has inherent limitations. Depending on the survey methodology and the profile and number of respondents, a survey may only partially represent a whole industry (or a particular segment, geographic region, etc.) at a given point in time. Which is why we should generally view survey results as a (potentially inaccurate) indication, rather than a fully accurate reflection, and as food for thought. This is also the case here.

2 The 5G survey report was sponsored by EXFO and was part of the Annual Industry Survey 2019 Report published by Intelligence in November 2019. For more information and to download the full report, you can visit

3 And do not hesitate to contact EXFO and share your views!