February 26, 2018

The Underlying Promise of 5G: Takeaways From Day 1 of MWC 2018

Faster network speeds make all the headlines, but service providers need to focus on data intelligence to fully enable what 5G has to offer.

Can speed and bandwidth translate into a miraculous new business offering that customers will open their wallets for? If service providers expect consumers to open their wallets just for faster content downloads or quicker Facebook interactions, they are going to be very disappointed. The wireless industry must work toward an outcome of intelligent connectivity. In other words, service providers need to move away from “connecting to customers” and toward “connecting with customers.” The ability to deliver massive amounts of data over a wireless connection is being positioned as a way to better connect with customers, provide more versatility of services, innovate and automate businesses and leverage the mass adoption of smart phones.

On day one of Mobile World Congress 2018, keynote speakers highlighted recent GSMA data showing that over 5 billion people worldwide are connected to wireless networks today, representing two-thirds of the world’s population. That massive number does not even include enterprise-related connections, smart devices or IoT/M2M-related products and services. Virtually every service provider in attendance is preparing 5G networks to enable faster connections and increased functional capacity. But, the network is just one part of the equation. The exciting new service models we all hear about must be tied to a larger, distributed data management strategy in order to actually bring greater value to customers that are ready to migrate to faster networks.

For service providers, mobile connectivity used to represent one thing for many years: making money by connecting devices to networks to enable users to interact with other entities. However, today’s 5G business cases show highly complex and often vertical-specific services that require not only bandwidth and speed but also a new level of data management to transcend connectivity by delivering intelligent experiences.

Demos at Mobile World Congress showcase innovative scenarios enabled by 5G network speeds, such as doctors diagnosing patients remotely, automated construction equipment digging ditches and driverless cars operating seamlessly. But it’s important to remember that the network is just one part of the much larger 5G equation. Where things get interesting (and complex) is when we see proactive, predictive and constructive actions of all the data. Data intelligence will help optimize services, avoid mistakes and threats and, of course, drive revenue. Meanwhile, the thorough nature of data analysis will help service providers create proactive interactions to keep their customers engaged. It will be also be the data monitoring of network activities that will determine how networks and speed are used.

What does it all mean? It means the end goal—customer convenience, quality-of-service (QoS) and overall satisfaction—can’t succeed without a platform that has intelligent data management at the core. It also means the winners in 5G will be service providers that capitalize on how well they capture, measure and use their data as part of their platform strategy.

As for making money?  Well, that’s a whole other story entirely.


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