With analysts claiming that an estimated 1.5 billion people will be using 5G by the end of 2024, everyone is chasing the latest “G” with its promise for increased capacities, increased speeds and of course, increased revenues.
The momentum is building and the first RFP/RFIs for 5G networks are landing from the largest network operators in predictable geographies. Our expectation is that testing will continue until the end of 2019 with the first deployments starting in 2020. The main promise of 5G is increased capacity which doesn’t really impact most subscriber use cases. Network operators must look beyond the Enhanced Mobile Broadband use case to those of Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications and Massive IoT for the greatest revenue potential.
#1: The move to continuous integration/continuous delivery gathers pace
Continuous delivery is transforming the way vendors deliver to network operators and the operational and business benefits have been proven to be many. For example, it means that operators can now keep pace with Over-the-Top (OTT) providers by increasing their market and technology responsiveness.
However, this new model means that existing commercial, deployment, and support models will become defunct. We need to think of new ways of doing business between vendors and operators. Ultimately, this new business model means that the smaller operators may find sustaining their own networks too onerous and costly and would instead become tenants of the networks of larger operators.
#2: Internet of things
5G will drive IoT innovation forward. So far, the main activity has been around the Connected Car, where the potential value per device is higher as the car is essentially the device.
The true low-value high-volume commodities require 5G to deliver on its promise of a 100-fold increase in capacity. The high-end IoT applications such as robotics and manufacturing automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, etc., also need the power of 5G networks to reduce the latency of decision-making. Cost, security, regulatory and performance issues are stemming the IoT tide for the moment, but only for the moment.
#3: The here and now….
Roaming traffic is still increasing, driven by changing regulations, increase in travellers and the rise of the IoT roaming market. It still has potential as a serious revenue earner but the biggest winners will be operator groups who centralise their roaming traffic. Centralised roaming hubs have many benefits for operating groups including reduced costs and centralised control for a superior quality of experience while roaming.
The arrival of 5G will accelerate this platform consolidation. Operator groups will centralise their roaming and subsequently their group domestic traffic and smaller operators will become tenants of larger operators. We are already seeing this requirement from customers.
#4: And, what next?
Well, if you listen very carefully, you can just hear the first tiny steps of the newest member of the “G” family - 6G.