Putting the Gs of 5G in Context
The 5G discussion is shaped by several core concepts, which, if approached correctly, will allow the next-generation network to truly bring about disruptive opportunities.
The expression “a rising tide lifts all boats” has often been used in relation to the fantastic growth that the mobile industry experienced in its early generations. Penetration rates exceeded 100 percent and our obsession with average revenue per user (ARPU) told a story of seemingly unlimited profit.
But 5G represents something different; it does bring some new elements to the table, but it also appears at a time of significant consolidation and recalibration of the broader telecom industry. Identifying cases in which 5G will make a real difference to personal and business lives are common, although bigger questions are being raised. Generally, there are at least five different ‘Gs’ shaping the 5G market discussion.
- Gigabit: 5G brings gigabit speeds to the mobile ecosystem, challenging the world of fiber delivery to keep bandwidth-hungry applications satiated.
- Granularity: Slices through the whole of the mobile network, including millisecond response times, will deliver specific services, e.g., remote surgery or autonomous/assisted driving.
- Growth: Investment in the next wave of mobile has always been about increasing revenue, acquiring new customers and extending the reach. The model has to be infinitely flexible and affordable to fit in with every business case but also must be weighed against realistic expectations.
- Geography: Early signs indicate that key players will invest in fixed wireless access (FWA) because they can afford it with their high ARPUs and regulatory regimes. In other areas, 5G will be implemented at national levels to help drive digital agendas. In either case, the market has got to afford 5G in order to secure the future of digital business and society.
- Government: Interestingly, 5G is now a long-term evolution (LTE) issue for society as a whole and governments need to be clear in how they will drive the investment to densify mobile infrastructure and deliver the promises of ubiquitous, high-quality mobile.
Although 5G may not provide a high tide for the industry in the short term, it can be seen as a wake-up call that encourages service providers to invest in the next generation of combined fiber and wireless infrastructure and to create an agile working environment for other digital stakeholders. If done correctly, 5G will reduce the cost of transport and will provide a more coherent strategy for connecting people, households, businesses and things. At the same time, 5G will transform systems used to create, manage and assure myriad services that will support new business models.