While many 5G use cases have centered on enterprise opportunities that leverage the speed, responsiveness and capacity of this advanced wireless technology, telecom operators must be careful to not brush off the desires of individual subscribers. They, too, are looking to make the most of their 5G data plans and investments in 5G-enabled mobile devices.
Unfortunately for many subscribers, the technology has not yet lived up to its promise. A recent consumer study from Ericsson shows that 70% of smartphone users are disappointed in the availability of new 5G-powered services and apps. The same study also found that subscribers are willing to pay 20-30% more for a premium 5G plan bundled with digital service use cases.
Taken together, these two data points indicate that the time has come for operators to develop a 5G strategy focused on increasing value-added services for the subscriber. Operators who want to remain competitive as well as recoup their infrastructure investments must think beyond simply providing enhanced connectivity. Today's consumers are savvy, use multiple connected devices and are short on time. And they expect a lot more from their digital service providers.
So where should an operator start? One logical place is with a feature-rich operator personal cloud service.
Boosting personal cloud capabilities
Mobile devices, laptops and home computers are our go-to tools for connecting with friends and family, interacting with social media apps, and documenting our lives. They also serve as primary repositories for our most cherished and important data, from photos and videos to contacts, documents, music and more. Protecting electronic files with cloud storage and backup solutions is increasingly considered an essential service.
Add 5G speeds and the appeal of premium personal cloud solutions becomes even more evident. 5G connectivity allows subscribers to instantaneously back up and protect all types of personal content in the cloud, including huge 4K and 8K Ultra HD videos. It also provides users with the ability to search for and view content directly from personal cloud accounts with no buffering and gives them the option to offload large-sized files from devices and computers.
Growing personal cloud market
What's particularly exciting is that the personal cloud market opportunity is massive. The addressable personal cloud market in the United States is expected to expand with a compound annual growth rate of 12% to $5.1 billion in 2025, according to management consultancy Arthur D. Little. Globally, the personal cloud market is estimated to grow to between $15 billion and $25 billion in less than five years.
And this growth is only likely to continue as we expect many consumers who currently use over-the-top (OTT) cloud offerings such as iCloud, Amazon Drive, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive to soon begin looking for alternative options. Here's why: These platforms have dominated the personal cloud marketplace in large part because they offer free or extremely low-cost service.
This advantage, however, is about to disappear. The low price point in combination with the exponential growth of personal digital content means OTTs are quickly approaching storage capacity. Google is clearly feeling the pinch and as of June 1 has eliminated unlimited free storage and put a cap on the number and size of free photos and documents that may be uploaded to its cloud service. And where Google goes, others are likely to follow. Furthermore, consumers are looking for ways to engage with their content by sharing with family and friends without worry of behavioral mining and privacy concerns.
For telecom providers today who currently only claim a minuscule segment of the personal cloud user base (about 1% in the United States), this is good news especially in a world where the definition of cloud has the capacity to become so much more.
Extending reach with 5G broadband
To further boost subscriber satisfaction, shrewd operators must look beyond mobile devices and provide a means for personal cloud users to protect and interact with their most important digital content no matter where that content resides. The way to accomplish this is to launch 5G broadband service for the home and offer premium personal cloud bundles. Such an offering would give subscribers the ability to easily capture, protect, sync and share content across all connected devices in the home mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers to a single personal cloud destination through both mobile and desktop applications. This type of collective storage for family members and friends who share a single operator account will simplify cloud use by eliminating the need for multiple cloud accounts, multiple passwords, multiple invoices and disjointed backup, all while providing individual user security and privacy.
As 5G becomes the norm rather than the exception, the pressure will increase on operators to find new ways for subscribers to benefit from the technology. Personal cloud very well could be the first scale value-added service for operators who also are seeking revenue-generating use cases to recoup 5G investments. Launching a "5G at Home" service that enables subscribers to store and access their content safely and securely in one place for one price with one provider they trust the operator will not only increase service providers' ability to bolster their bottom line but also give then the ability to transform from simply suppliers of network connectivity into essential providers of critical services.
Suren Nathan, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cloud Products and Solutions, Synchronoss Technologies
About Suren Nathan
Suren Nathan is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cloud Products and Solutions for Synchronoss Technologies. His more than 25 years of product management, product development and solutions delivery experience is driven by a passion for creating value at scale and building global teams that deliver disruptive products and drive high margin businesses. Prior to joining Synchronoss is 2015, he served as CTO of Razorsight. Suren earned his master's degree in biomedical engineering from the Johns Hopkins University.
Photo by Billy Huynh on Unsplash.