The 5G Revolution
5G technology is knocking on our doors and is said to be around the corner. Mobile service providers have upped their game recently and are holding talks, events and discussions to formulate a plan for the launch of this futuristic network. Not only is 5G technology on the agenda at conferences, but many telecom providers have started testing it out inside labs.
With the advent of 5G approaching, serious questions are being asked of the potential this network has to deliver on what it has been promising.
5G and its Capabilities
5G promises capabilities that few other modern era technologies can rival. Some of its disruptive technologies include:
- An ultra-low latency communication
- Higher security and network slicing: This include the presence of different networks for diverse applications and challenges the perception of one network for everything.
- Higher bandwidth. It is expected that 5G will give 1,000 times more bandwidth and 50 times greater latency than the previous 4G technology.
These advances are intuitive, but the question remains the same; is 5G going to be just another G, or is it a whole new disruption? Below, we look at some of the possibilities that come along with this amazing technology.
As a proud partner of Ericsson, I had the opportunity to get a better grasp on this topic. I spoke with Jitendra Manocha, Product Line Unified Data Management at Ericsson. Jitendra spoke to us about the potential of 5G and how it could disrupt in the Telco market. He also introduced us to some of their own research on this subject.
App Store’s Success
Back in 2007 we saw a major disruption in the telecom industry during the launch and subsequent success of smartphones. Smartphones went on to become popular and effective because of their experience and usability. However, Smartphone weren’t the end. Another disruption followed soon after when Steve Jobs launched the App Store for Apple. Through this platform, Jobs invited 3rd party developers to program and market new apps under the umbrella of their smartphone.
Interestingly Jobs wasn’t always in favor of the App Store solution. Jobs quashed this idea and said that Apple would be better off creating web applications for their customers. As is mentioned in the biography of his life, Steve Jobs was against the idea of the App Store because he thought their team did not have the bandwidth and the capabilities required to handle the complexities that would come as part of such a move. However, he changed his mind soon after and the App Store was born in 2008 – now today we see an exponential growth in applications and new use cases – it was the external innovation on the platform that fueled the application innovation. This concept has further expanded into a global entity that influenced the growth of other similar ideas such as Google’s Play Store.
The Disruption of 5G
The 5G disruption is going to be similar to that of the App Store. It’s expected that 5G will open up the network operating system for mobile networks through the core network. In the process, the network will expose the capabilities of the network to external parties for them to program their applications using the connectivity and edge of the mobile network.
The 5G world will not just be limited to phones and will now have everything connected under one umbrella (Industrial applications, business applications etc). It is similar to the App Store, but in 4 dimensions. Being driven by use cases, 5G will open a new revenue stream that can disrupt the market and lead to bigger and better innovations.
Why Is 5G Disruptive?
While low latency, higher bandwidth, higher security and network slicing make 5G a major disruption, we will provide insights in terms of factors that directly affect you, and which you’ll be able to better understand.
The following are the major reasons we believe 5G will prove to be a major disruption:
Increased programmability means increased possibilities
5G will help innovate new use cases and more importantly as of yet unknown use cases through new applications supporting multiple industries for eg Industry 4.0 and Remote Healthcare. This technology offers new potential to increase the programmability required to create an experience similar to that of the App Store. This increase in programmability would be done using APIs and SDK or software development kits.
APIs play an imperative role here as they provide the set of rich capabilities required to build blocks for third party AFs (application functions). These building blocks will help third party AFs to innovate service offerings within 5G. Operators can then allow this to enable additional revenue streams for better exposure to the opportunities and capabilities hosted within the setup.
Programmability started with 4G and is now radically improved with 5G, as the network is opening boundaries for Telco providers and operators. This will also lead to NBIoT 4G, which can be found in water metering solutions including smart grids and smart metering.
5G also opens new avenues such as an immersive video experience, Virtual Reality (VR) glasses and the augmentation of VR to create an amazing sport viewing experience. Fans would be able to watch games at home with the feeling of being in the front row.. All of this would be done using programmability, network slicing and edge technology.
5G technologies will assist in the realization of programmability as it will simplify the process and make it more doable. However, Communication Service Providers will need to think about additional layers of security as programmability becomes a reality.
Telecom Opportunities and Potential
Telcos have tremendous potential to address new use cases in the industry. This is driven by the huge improvements of connectivity services (higher bandwidth, lower latency) and by the capability to easily control them, tailor them around different needs and most importantly securely expose them. The Artificial Intelligence introduces a further element to the equation, making possible network closed loops based on processing insights and decision making; leveraging on that it will be possible to drastically automate network operations in the industry.
One of the most significant examples is the “Edge computing”. It is an important feature in core network to strongly reduce the latency on data communication. This capability can be exposed through open API and activated based on the result of analytics, offering the opportunity to address new use cases in the industry not possible in the past. One example is the automatic recognition of a special type of service requiring ultra-low latency connectivity (e.g. Augmented Reality) and the consequent activation of the edge computing to deliver the right Quality of Experience to the end users who asked to use the special service.
While there are many more examples on 5G potential and lot is being developed in standards and Operators could start today to capture the Nb-IoT market building on 4G APIs (Provided by SCEF) which provides the key to capture the IoT market.
Business Model Innovation
Today, Telcos are making money through enhanced connectivity. The disruption from 5G will see the emergence of a new roles for the operators similar to that of App Store.
This new revenue model will see greater revenue streams that will ultimately increase profits that Telco operators can extract.
This change in models will also require the building of a new ecosystem that involves all processes from B2C, B2B and B2X.
With these 5G cases substantially growing and expected to be in place by the beginning of 2020, telecom services must start serious work on revenue models. There needs to be a level playing field where Telcos can extract the most out of the opportunities present.
By Ronald van Loon