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The 5G Business Case Will Impact Mobile

CSPs need to invest in 5G and partner with operators on everything from towers to spectrum.

Even as much of the world is still waiting for 4G, the hype of 5G isn’t far behind and in fact has already built up consumer expectation as to what mobile will actually be able to deliver in the future.

5G is still up in the air in terms of standards, but by many accounts it will be a framework within which licensed and unlicensed spectrum will be set to address the exploding demands of customers along with the billions of devices forecasted to join the Internet of Things (IoT) in the next few years.

One of the problems facing the mobile network is that it will ultimately be carrying most aspects of the world’s activities. This ranges from the most critical emergency calls to the most trivial social media message as well as huge amounts of video traffic. The combination of centralized, decentralized, peer-to-peer, low and high frequency, miniscule and massive data loads must all be taken into account as operators go down the 5G path.

The 5G Ecosystem
CSPs need to plan for this extended reach through their own investments as well as sharing with other operators on everything from towers down to spectrum itself. However, they also need to be cognizant of emerging network infrastructure provided by other stakeholders in the digitally connected future. For example:

  • Cities are increasingly building out their own Wi-Fi infrastructure to improve the appeal of their city as well as serve citizens in emerging smart city projects.
  • Businesses have their own Wi-Fi infrastructure that they sometimes open up to the general public.
  • Retail outlets and shopping malls use Wi-Fi as a means to attract customers.

Business and consumer customers alike want more reliable, ubiquitous connectivity; however, the assumption that everyone needs more capacity may be flawed. Users can all benefit from larger pipes, but what they actually get value from in terms of applications are not always heavier data loads.

The IoT of the future will, for the most part, only require low power, infrequent connections, often producing low content requirements. The 5G framework will need to embrace the cellular side as well as the more dominant unlicensed streams represented by Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and infrared.

The business case for 5G needs to consider the long-term evolution of mobile communications and also allow for closer integration with the fixed side of the industry. 5G will impact the market as communications services become more and more integrated, and to a degree embedded into business process and value chain flows. As CSPs adjust their business models to reflect communications as part of their new digital offerings, 5G will need to embrace all of these permutations of direct and indirect services and underpin other revenue opportunities for partners and channels alike. 

Photo by Ben Duncan via Flickr