With the arrival of 5G already occurring in select countries and the anticipated launch expected to happen in most within 2020, the need for telecom engineers to be skilled and trained within all aspects of 5G is evident. In order to achieve set targets and for the roll-out of 5G to be deemed successful, telecom companies will need to ramp up their focus on re-training and upskilling their employees. 


Predictions indicate that over 20 billion connected devices will be used globally by the end of 2020, with these devices relying on 5G networks to function. As a result, there is a large demand for 5G-ready telecom engineers and rightly so with global research finding that 5G has the potential to support up to 22 million jobs globally by 2035. 


5G challenges


5G is expected to deliver speeds of up to 2.5 gigabytes per second and is able to do so by using millimeter wave (mmWave), which is a different section on the electromagnetic spectrum compared to 4G. These higher frequency radio signals use shorter wavelengths which require more 5G antennas to be positioned throughout the streets in order for the signals to be accessible. To overcome this issue, there also needs to be multiple small cells to handle in-building deployments. 5G adopters need to determine the condition of their existing wired network infrastructure in order to ensure that their LANs are ready for the new technology and deploying fiber solutions with power distribution.


Furthermore, radio channel emulation becomes a more complex task with 5G, as the number of radiofrequency channels will increase substantially as opposed to the previous releases of 3G and 4G. In order for 5G test equipment to be efficient and practical, the technology will need to improve rapidly to compensate.


As a result, it will mean that all telecom engineers will need to be retrained as these issues are unique to 5G. Furthermore, these issues are labour intensive as antennas will need to be installed on every block rather than simply installing them in larger regions. This poses a more complex and strenuous task.


 However, the list does not stop there. With the implementation of newly advanced technology such as 5G, comes the increased risk of cyberattacks. Telecommunication companies need to be proactive when it comes to security as 5G opens up new opportunities and ways for hackers to enter networks and get into workplace environments. In order to overcome these threats, telecom companies need to put their resources towards maintaining and enhancing the security of their network as they are in the process of deployment, rather than leaving it as an afterthought.


5G is also expected to cost a substantial amount more which may drive an internal re-evaluation for employers. Whilst this may sound worrying, jobs are not on the line. In fact, the need for skilled professionals to assist in the rollout of 5G is high, with over 22 million job opportunities predicted to open by 2035.

How can telecom engineers become 5G ready?


The transition into a 5G society is far more complex than it has been in the past with previous generations of wireless technology. Telecommunication companies need to prepare their team and invest within their skills in order to stay ahead and remain profitable. Telecommunication companies also need to strategize quickly to determine the most effective way for their engineers to learn new principles and techniques required for 5G in a timely manner considering that the race is on for the rollout of 5G. With the telecom standards changing, it is even more so important for the need of continuous education opportunities for all employees as well as recertification opportunities. Not only that, but with 5G comes new security protocols and risks which will need to be considered. 


In the mean-time, whilst the training of employees is in progress, telecommunication companies can potentially hire temporary 5G engineers to assist with the roll-out in order to stay on top of demand. Alternatively, there are options for on-the-job training which will ensure that telecommunication companies are delivering their promises of 5G whilst ensuring that all employees are skilled and knowledgeable within their skillset and practices.


It is time for telecommunication companies to recognise the diverse array of skills needed to implement 5G in order to stay within their targets and achieve their 5G promises. VIAVI is a household name for 5G solutions with end-to-end options on 5G validation, verification and visibility. Talk to the 5G and fiber experts today and see how you can join the next digital transformation.




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