70% of UK businesses plan to invest in 5G within the next three years, according to a study by EY published today.

The study, How 5G is redefining the world of enterprise, also found that 15% of UK businesses currently invest in 5G.

Furthermore, 74% believe that 5G will become an embedded part of their business processes within five years.

However, while there is interest and enthusiasm for 5G among UK businesses, there is also considerable caution and concern.

Businesses may plan to invest in 5G, but show a lack of knowledge about its use

While there is an enthusiasm to invest, 78% of businesses show gaps in knowledge about the use cases and core concepts of 5G.

Meanwhile, 70% see it only as an incremental progression from current leading connectivity technologies such as WiFi and 4G. This is despite the fact that 5G offers far greater advancements than a simple progression in speed.

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This is particularly pronounced when it comes to the implementation of internet of things (IoT) technology built on 5G, with only 44% confident that they can achieve this, and just one in four believing their operating model is ready to accommodate the technology.

Perhaps as a result, while a significant minority are already making investments in 5G, these have largely remained in the discovery and planning phase. Of those making investments now, 61% are still either in discussion with suppliers or conducting trials.

“UK businesses are keen to invest in 5G, but this is not matched by most organisations’ capabilities. To overcome this challenge and reach the full potential of 5G, providers need to articulate a more compelling vision of the opportunity, while businesses need to educate themselves on the game-changing possibilities,” said Praveen Shankar, EY head of technology, media and telecommunications for the UK & Ireland

“Success will require adapting existing strategies like IoT to take full advantage of 5G and also understanding the links with adjacent emerging technologies such as AI.”

Are 5G providers the answer?

According to EY, the answer to resolving this disconnect between enthusiasm to invest and understanding of 5G lies with providers.

“It’s clear that enterprises now want consultative dialogue that delivers business outcomes through end-to-end solutions,” said Brian Baschnonga, EY global telecommunications lead analyst.

“5G providers need to reinvent themselves as trusted partners, prioritising access to an ecosystem of competencies that can deliver 5G capabilities at scale. Delivering actionable solutions that encompass the full spectrum of enterprise needs – from use case creation to cybersecurity – will be critical in the long-term.”

However, 5G providers have work to do in this area. 76% of businesses say they will prioritise providers than can act as partners for 5G projects, but 61% of businesses are currently struggling to find a suitable provider.

Read more: 5G: Ready to embrace the opportunity?