Just as consumers and businesses got comfortable with the connectivity, speed and capabilities of 4G and LTE networks, service providers worldwide have started their evolution toward 5G. The future view of what 5G technology can deliver for end users remains undefined, but investments in 5G networks are often tied to enabling new business models, such as efficient waste management for smart cities, as well as real-time, at-home health care monitoring, among many others. However, network investments are only one piece of the 5G puzzle, as none of this can happen without investments in IT that initiate, control, deliver and monetize these services.
The rapid pace of network evolution must be supported by IT systems and services that can turn faster network speeds into revenue growth. For example, consider a 5G business model in which a mobile operator partners with a sports media company to provide 8K streaming services. In this case, the streamed event would be given dedicated bandwidth and billed based on a flat rate or by duration. Any delivery issues would trigger quality-of-service (QoS) discounts as part of the BSS policy management to ensure the billing system rates and bills accordingly. In this scenario, the network provides the service, but the management platform takes on the foundational role of service provisioning, mediation, service management, QoS and billing.
Despite the hype around 5G, service providers cannot enable and support this new technology without optimizing integration across all IT systems. Any 5G strategy must embrace an IT strategy that creates consistent data flows, enhances data sharing, provides flexible pricing and real-time monetization and helps service providers make improvements to service delivery. As the digital economy continues to widen, customer and service management will become increasingly multipoint and multicompany-oriented, exposing the 5G service user to myriad partners. Thus, managing customer journeys will become more convoluted without an effective IT management strategy.
Network and IT investments in 5G will ultimately prove beneficial to the mobile industry and provide an upside for a service providers’ fixed-line business and adjacent industry partners. The business cases for 5G will only be made successful by investments and support from all stakeholders in the ecosystem. That ecosystem now becomes more reliant on the joint development of service rollouts and advances in internet services, consumer electronics and health care, among other factors. 5G will impact the market as communications services become more integrated and embedded into business process and value chain flows, leaving the future expectations for 5G open-ended for years to come.
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