The emergence of network embedded services, network slicing capabilities and the ability to spin up individual sub-networks with their own Quality of Service (QoS) and tailored service experiences will see 5G become a key strategic business enabler. It will also provide telecoms industry with the overhaul it desperately needs.
With 5G, service providers have the opportunity to rethink and reshape their business models to succeed in an ecosystem driven by the demand for rich data services. The future for service providers could include delivering high ARPU services to millions of consumers, and just as profitably serving low ARPU services to trillions of devices. 5G enables the economics of this strange new market place.
The telecoms industry now finds itself at a crucial inflexion point. In the next 12 to 18 months, 5G will mature quickly and service providers will be keen to cash in on 5G infrastructure investments and years of planning. But a change in mindset will be critical. Service providers will need to go beyond connectivity and adapt to play a central role in delivering the value of the 5G network. What 5G will be is a platform for telco reinvention.
New use cases, new markets and new service provider value
5G's potential is huge and many of us have likely lost count of the numerous use cases that it may deliver. As 5G continues to roll out rapidly, service providers are defining their strategic positions from which use cases will follow. Primarily, the enterprise market has received the most attention with many in the industry arguing it will represent the greatest portion of 5G value.
Already we're seeing 5G excitement building in advanced manufacturing settings. This year, industrial and manufacturing giants like Ford UK, Lufthansa and Toyota have all announced plans to work with partners on the development of their own private 5G networks. Enterprise players are bullish about accelerating their adoption of these technologies as the promise of 5G looks set to deliver improvements this sector has been crying out for.
Service providers must embrace proudly and loudly the value they can offer here. There will be a gap in the knowledge that service providers can help bridge to support enterprise leaders in achieving their ambitions for 5G. Service providers can focus in on manufacturing settings, for example, to provide end-to-end offerings as the principle provider. This may take the shape of supplying services such as high-definition cameras to a car manufacturer that requires 5G and ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC) on a production line. High-definition images can be processed in real time with near-zero latency to automatically inspect the quality of products.
Improve subscriber relationships
5G isn't only an enterprise play, however. In the consumer world, where content is king, service providers must leverage 5G to play a more active role in the 5G value chain by selling services direct to their customers. Pop-up, perhaps self-service designed and tailored network experiences for content providers to easily access could provide operators with an easier and more profitable access to the end-customers. There is also the opportunity for 5G to connect those hardest to reach consumers, with 5G Fixed Wireless Access being rolled out as an alternative to fixed line broadband connections.
Another exciting 5G consumer use case is cloud gaming. In the gaming world, low latency is critical to high performance, and the speeds and enhanced connectivity capabilities of 5G are a promising reality for gamers. 5G has the potential to augment poorly performing home broadband connections, and it's a service that many gamers are willing to pay for.
In some circumstances, 5G routers may even replace their fiber counterparts. In Korea, SK Telecom has partnered with Microsoft to bring mobile cloud gaming to its subscribers, recognizing the opportunity to attract new customers as well as generate new revenue from the existing customer base.
Service providers also have an opportunity with 5G to tackle long standing issues with subscriber churn. By adding value to existing subscriber contacts through 5G home broadband, cloud gaming services, and potentially even augmented reality experiences, service providers will greatly improve customer retention.
Service providers must step out of their comfort zone
The reality is that the most successful 5G use cases have likely not even been thought of yet, and the web-scale mentality of 'try fast, fail fast, learn fast' will be very applicable to a successful service provider's approach to 5G.
5G is a much more sophisticated technology than any of the previous "G"'s – meaning that there are far more controllable service characteristics that can be shaped on 5G networks. Automation and orchestration will allow these multiple experience factors to be tailored to shape the service environments much faster and more cheaply than ever before. Cloud will mean no capacity constraints will limit success. All of these factors combined will lower the barriers to entry for enterprises and entrepreneurs to connect with their target audiences.
The need has never been greater for service providers to revamp their business culture around open agile systems to quickly adopt and adapt to these new revenue opportunities. If they do, telecoms service providers will be empowered to enter entirely new domains, grow revenues through digital first sub-brands, deliver content bundling for the multi-media obsessed consumer and even launch non-telco services such as financial services and low-latency cloud gaming.
— Niall Norton, Chief Executive Officer, Openet
Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash.