At the start of the year, the common assumption was that the biggest change and challenge 2020 would bring for communication service providers (CSPs) would be the roll out of 5G. While the world has changed dramatically since then, 5G continues to be at the forefront of the conversation though not always for reasons that CSPs would like.
Yet, despite the debate and furore, 5G still has an important role to play, says Oracle’s John Lenns. While the consumer offering might be somewhat delayed due to the current situation, the biggest opportunity at the moment for CSPs is at an enterprise level. With enhanced security, better coverage and more flexibility than any previous generations, 5G will to be a game-changer cross-industry, as long as CSPs understand the opportunity and work closely with enterprises to help them make the most of it.
In our recent report with the TM Forum, we looked at the 5G opportunity and identified three important capabilities enabled by 5G networks that CSPs can use to deliver differentiated services to their customers and help them develop innovative applications:
Co-creation of innovative services
The report found that CSPs increasingly expect more of their revenues in the 5G space to come from business-to-business (B2B) services long-term and that collaboration will be critical to these profits. The vast majority (81%) of telco CXOs understand the necessity for co-creation environments and say they’re looking for ways to build them.
Although methodologies may differ, co-creation will see CSPs and a mix of vendors, enterprise customers, innovators across industries and academia, third-party developers and even competitors come together. Not only will the focus be on creating infrastructure, digital services and applications, but also business agreements for delivering and monetising them. Coming together will help CSPs offer 5G packages that can deliver automated, ultra-low latency services and customised performance all backed by service-level guarantees.
Speed will be the pinnacle of success. Larger organisations across different verticals are already looking into 5G solutions and are considering building their own provider networks. If CSPs want to offer a service that sees them either included or rivalling these in-house 5G platforms, then they need to start collaborating with third parties for a market offering now.
When it comes to B2B, one size just never fits all and that’s where a 5G opportunity lies for CSPs. With 5G, they’ll be able to tailor their services exactly to the requirements not just of any industry or enterprise, but down to any given application, user, device, context or even by customer segment by isolating virtualised network resources.
As 5G includes slicing in its core offering, CSPs will be able to launch and evolve custom-fit network slices-as-a-service rapidly with lower capital and operating costs. It will help provide opportunity for new revenue-generating, customised digital business services, and let them sell enterprises exactly what they need.
Multi-access edge computing
Edge computing is the power behind most Internet of Things (IoT) innovation. Shifting centralised compute, storage resources and some applications to the outside or the ‘edge’ of the network, puts them closer to users who require low latency and other high performance service characteristics. Data storage, processing and analysis happens on the edge for faster interactions between different devices or ‘things’. 5G makes this whole process even quicker, as well as more secure, which is why it’s a good opportunity for CSPs selling to enterprises who want to make the most of IoT.
Take the automotive space. Connected vehicles have been an early focus for businesses with IoT strategies. Autonomous vehicles will require continuous mapping capability which will rely on connectivity through mobile networks and, thanks to its aforementioned attributes, 5G will be the preferred connectivity technology for vehicle-to-vehicle communications.
Financial services and banks will also be a core target for 5G services. With ATMs using some form of ‘edge’ technology for years, banks could be considered some of the front-runners in the space. But where 5G will really be seen as a way to enhance banking services is in making other services such as loan applications or mortgage decisions much faster. Pop-up bank branches could be a possibility, bringing all the services from a branch much closer to people’s homes, as data can be processed and handled much quicker and securely, without needing to be sent to a financial service institution’s central infrastructure.
Ultimately, there’s a big opportunity for CSPs to take 5G technology and drive revenues from enterprises in a number of ways. The three above examples are just the start. But to make sure the 5G opportunity doesn’t pass them by, they need to start making moves for working with the right people and selling these services now. 5G might be the big innovation of 2020 for CSPs, but it could easily pass them by if they don’t get on the front foot with creating the best services, cross-industry, for their B2B customers.
The author is John Lenns of Oracle.