5 Key Takeaways From Mobile World Congress Americas
5G, AI, network performance and security are all becoming increasingly important topics as networks evolve and service demands change.
GSMA chose Los Angeles, California for Mobile World Congress Americas this year, clearly choosing the location with the goal of bringing operators, technology providers and media and entertainment players together to drive what is becoming a more converged industry forward into the 5G world. Here are our five key takeaways from the event.
1. U.S. Service Providers are Aggressively Moving 5G Forward
Sprint and Verizon were front and center, demonstrating the future opportunities for their business as 5G networks come online. While the benefits of 5G may be seen as having a greater impact on the growth of enterprise services, it is Verizon 5G Home that is set to launch first. Sprint won’t be far behind, with 2019 availability in five cities, using MIMO technology to boost 10X performance over its existing LTE capabilities. Both represent service bundles that potentially displace cable TV as part of the plan, likely by offering a significantly lower price for services.
2. AI and 5G are Joined at the Hip
The importance of predictive actions across nearly all vertical-specific services will be one of the critical components of assuring that newly enabled 5G services provide the optimal outcome and the greatest value for service. Artificial intelligence (AI) is seen as a necessity for differentiation, as it ensures that unique, customized content and services can be accurately delivered to customers, particularly in the wake of over-the-top (OTT) providers like Netflix stealing customers away from traditional media service providers. However, the revenue models for future 5G services need to be more firmly defined and 4G will still be paying the bills for at least eight years as 5G becomes more pervasive and services mature.
3. Media and Wireless CSPs Need to Align Around Content, and CSPs Have the Data
As mobile devices become a more predominant vehicle for content delivery, the message around service provider and media partnership/alignment was clear. Operators have the customer relationship, understand the customer lifecycle and can provide a more effective journey. This provides a layer of intelligence that allows for greater targeting of media/content services and advertising to users. This also allows the ability to cater networks and services to provide higher-value offerings with lower latency at a premium price point. Ideally, media providers could link high-demand services like virtual/augmented reality-related services or other dedicated brands to a premium pricing structure that drives additional revenue for the operator and the media provider. Both entities benefit from the extension into offering more creative content through such a partnership.
4. Network Management and Customer Management Must Link More Closely
The need for greater coherence between network activities and the customer experience is now front and center, particularly as the industry looks for ways to retain customers and grow revenue. As wireless customers consume more complex and bandwidth-intensive services, network performance monitoring becomes increasingly important in tracking network functions and providing insight into the risks of service bottlenecks or performance issues. Network analytics tools must be able to predict issues that are tied to what will be an expanding number of consumer and business service use cases that identify and understand a “normal” state and automatically make corrections when network traffic anomalies occur. The biggest challenge is how to evolve the “normal” state as customer service demands change over time. This requires a link between network and customer analytics tools that can then help automate the identification of what is and what will be considered “normal.”
5. Security and Privacy is Top of Mind as Networks Virtualize and Become “Sliceable”
Physical network security has been a more fixed and managed process, and the removal of those boundaries creates added complexity to provide security control functions. As domain orchestration of virtual resources allows these new network functions to be enabled by partners or other service providers, the risks increase. The same is the case for 5G network slices, as new virtual network boundaries must be monitored in real time by operators in order to reduce data intrusion or theft and ensure customer privacy.