The world is waiting for the next big disruption in the telecom sector – 5G services that promise faster than ever speed, enormous data capacity, and incredibly low latency. The full 5G system includes enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC). The initial phase of 5G non-standalone deployments will focus on Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and eMBB aimed at providing greater data bandwidth and reducing latency. With this, we’ll see a lot more of ultra HD videos, 360 degree streaming videos, VR/AR in gaming, and a huge uptick in telepresence. The second and third phase will have deployments pertaining to mMTC and URLLC, which will provide better support for self-driving cars, smart cities, and industrial automation.
The Road Ahead
The 5G evolution service available commercially today is just a rebranding for higher speed 4G wireless and home Internet service. And these higher speeds are available only for fixed line or home broadband, while it’s still a compromise for services on cellular network. eMBB is expected to revolutionize this, in that, it will create a seamless experience for the consumers across devices. FWA services from the initial 5G services promise a top line increase for telcos over the next five years, for both the US and in specific markets in Europe.
5G will deliver speeds at least 20 times faster than peak 4G. However, the rollout of 5G will depend heavily on a robust level of investment in infrastructure and network upgrades. For a carrier, current trends will continue – more fiber will be laid, more Wi-Fi connectivity provided, data requirements will continue to grow.
A major part of the groundwork for commercialized 5G apart from laying the base network will be in virtualization of the network(SDN/NFV), dynamic network splicing etc. Carriers are expected to leverage digital tech such as intelligent automation, AI and ML for better decision making, network remediation, and customer management.
Beyond the Pipe
The emergence of OTT players has put CSPs in a spot –reducing their services to a pipe providing voice, SMS and data services. Having lost the race to be the first mover in IoT and content services, to tech giants such as Google and Facebook, 5G presents a perfect opportunity for CSPs to regain lost market share. Some of the areas they can make an immediate presence involve creating a connected experience, offering location based content, M2M monetization and exploring use cases across industries.
5G in Other Industries
As we move into 5G mode, we’ll see more of the “As-a-Service” model at play. This presents an opportunity for CSPs to address a wide range of vertical markets by offering new and enhanced services using 5G, IoT, AI, and ML.
5G use cases are currently being identified in manufacturing, energy and utilities, public safety, healthcare, public transport, automotive, media and entertainment, live broadcasting industry, financial services, retail and agriculture. Self-driving cars, Smart homes, Interactive and immersive digital content, AR/VR for drug delivery in healthcare, dynamic traffic management, smart energy grids are some popular use cases from other industries based on 5G.
Industries are yet to apprehend the real benefits of 5G, but from the use cases already identified we do know that 5G has the potential to disrupt established business models across industries. For any of the exciting work to come to reality, telcos have to create an omnipresent network. Decision makers should work towards enhancing the ecosystem and redesigning operations to support the scale of the near future, investing in:
• Network expansion planning
• Forging partnerships to research or invest in small cell, network splicing
• Invest in related architectures like SDN/NFV, edge computing and distributed cloud architectures
• Explore use of emerging technologies like Intelligent automation, AI/ML to streamline processes across OSS/BSS
• Identification of use cases for enterprise customers
• Identification and investment in partnership, consortiums and co-innovation
The future does look promising for a global connected, immersive and seamless experience for the end user. What started in a Boston laboratory in the year 1876 with “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you!” can evolve into a Mr. Watson with a flick of a thumb conjure up in an Alexander Graham Bell’s lab using Virtual reality right after the receiving the message.