Syniverse’s global survey of service providers reveals that the industry is banking on driving new revenues from enterprise 5G opportunities, and that many have yet to develop the underlying payment, partnership, and interoperability systems that will allow a 5G ecosystem to monetize itself and flourish.
Conducted by Heavy Reading on behalf of Syniverse, the survey highlights the degree to which 5G ecosystems are expected and prepared to play a significant part in an operator’s business model. It shows that nearly 60% of respondents say that 5G will swing their organization’s focus to enterprise ecosystems. Supporting this focus, 77% of respondents expect their organizations to lead 5G ecosystems and offer advanced enterprise services, such as network slicing.
Service providers in the survey go a step further in demonstrating their confidence in recouping their investment in 5G enterprise plays, with 90% saying they have made progress in identifying vertical market opportunities. However, respondents raised significant concerns about the practical challenges of engaging in a new ecosystem that will entail many new partners, payment mechanisms and security challenges.
Revenue opportunities from the new ecosystem of many players can only be realized if practically implemented. And nearly three-quarters (74%) say that coordinating multiple partners is somewhat or the most difficult challenge, followed by maintaining service quality (70%), and revenue-sharing mechanisms (65%).
Where multiple partners require billing and charging, as many as 83% of respondents identified security and immutability of ecosystem transactions as a somewhat or most important feature, followed closely by the ability to allocate revenue between all partners (78%). Despite the scale of these specific concerns, as many as 51% say they have not yet identified, or are only just beginning to identify, their technical requirements for multi-party billing, reconciliation, and payment solutions.
“One of 5G’s defining aspirations is that it offers service providers the capability to expand beyond the traditional consumer boundary by supporting enterprise services brought about by the internet of things (IoT), with such innovations as smart cities, self-driving cars, and robotics,” said Bill Hurley, Chief Marketing Officer, Syniverse. “The ability to ensure operators can monetize these ecosystems is a particularly important aspect, along with the ability to ensure that every contributor to those ecosystems gets their fair share of revenue. Without monetization and related financial security, ecosystems just won’t grow.”
The survey highlighted further concerns about the industry’s readiness to effectively monetize 5G, with just 10% of respondents saying their existing systems are suitable for multi-party billing, reconciliation and payment solutions in 5G. Ecosystem complexity also raises specific challenges around invoicing and paying non-operator partners. More than three-quarters of respondents (77%) see fraudulent activity as somewhat or the biggest challenge in this area, closely followed by revenue assurance for billing, and settlement vs. contract data (71%).
“As the world’s most connected company, Syniverse recognizes the many challenges this survey highlights for our customers as 5G matures,” Hurley added. “That’s why we’re actively developing key technologies, from global and interoperable connectivity, to partner management, to clearing and settlement, that will ensure our customers have the systems and services in place that will enable them to play a full, active, and profitable role in 5G ecosystems.”
Critical to the revenue management challenges highlighted in this survey, Syniverse is developing a pilot to use blockchain as a means to transcend industry silos. This technology will ultimately allow universal payment processing and reconciliation among any company or provider across any technology by securely validating and managing transactions. At the same time, blockchain will allow companies to efficiently and securely overcome the inherent 5G challenges associated with security, monetization, and connecting partners.
These solutions are complemented by Syniverse’s launch of a 5G signaling service that supports cross-network connectivity for the IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and virtual reality (VR), as well as interoperability with 4G and 3G networks.
Syniverse is also partnering on a virtualized network that is already powering 30 million connected cars in Asia that all need globally accessible cellular connectivity. In addition, challenges around security of transactions in 5G ecosystems are being addressed by firewalls and a private global network that protect data from cyberattacks arising from IoT devices being connected to the internet.
“As 5G ecosystems evolve, these solutions will ensure that partner organizations can do business effectively, and address concerns around partner management and coordination,” said Hurley. “Sorting out this new era of collaboration is what Syniverse has built its 30-plus-year heritage on, and is how the ecosystem will get paid.”