The launch of 5G technology in 2019 will see lightning fast internet change the way we live and do business. The GSM Association (Groupe Speciale Mobile) recently conducted a survey on the effects that 5G technology would have on business and society. Drawing on the experience and expertise of some 800 CEOs and managers in the industry, the GSM has distilled several key insights into the 5G era. These illustrate the challenges that mobile operators will face to support sustainable growth of 5G and the potential opportunities that 5G technology will create.
They’re calling it 5G enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB). Effectively, it’s just massively fast internet and will be mobile operators’ proposition of choice when pushing 5G early on in the adoption process. This super speed will enable the delivery of ultra-high definition video content for gaming and streaming, revolutionize communication by allowing for a more immersive experience, and boost smart city services (think surveillance and emergency planning).
As 5G technology matures, it’s likely that it will further support the proliferation and infrastructure of the Internet of Things (IoT). An example of this would be a 5G network that supports communication and the transfer of information for autonomous vehicles around the city.
It’s inevitable that 5G technology will evolve. For other technologies to remain relevant, they’re going to need to keep up. The technology will piggyback off of LTE in the early phase of its deployment but will eventually be responsible for a shift in how cellular networks are designed and implemented. Existing services will need to adapt and new services will emerge to make the most of 5G technology.
New network architecture will need to be employed to accommodate the diverse set of applications that 5G technology will bring. One area that will be most impacted is security. Given the increasing threat of cyberattack, the cyber security landscape will need to be at its sharpest.
The 5G rollout is expected to cover 34 percent of the world’s population by 2025. While that might not seem like a lot, it’s a figure that sits at roughly 2,7 billion connections. Currently, projections of annual growth sit at 2,5 percent. This will be sustained as more unique subscribers connect as populations swell and more people clamber for the 5G services. Operators are also set to develop new business models that improve the monetization of data and unlock new business opportunities. Do this all successfully and growth opportunities in areas such as digital and IoT could sit at around 5 percent.
Mobile operators are set to see their role in the industry change slightly with the rollout of 5G. It’s set to become an industry of providing connectivity and digital services to consumers and businesses. Operators are going to need to compete in the same space as internet companies to provide the services that their customers demand. Forecasts in the communication industry predict competition to be fiercest in this sector. Services surrounding IoT, or those that require big data or artificial intelligence, are also set to be highly competitive. The key to unlocking this competition and finding space in the markets will be collaboration and the development of new solutions and models with which to approach the markets.
The success of the 5G era will rest squarely on clear policies, stringent licensing rules and transparent spectrum policies. Failure in any one of these areas could mean a diminished impact from 5G.
Spectrum is a critical resource for the distribution of mobile broadband. Its availability and frequency bands will determine 5G’s business feasibility. Significant new and mobile spectrum is needed across all frequency bands to ensure the timely rollout of 5G and maximize the technology’s potential. Mobile operators will need clear technical and policy rules on the usage of spectrum and the licensing thereof. Collaboration is needed to create a roadmap of sorts for spectrum use and prevent exorbitant prices.
If you’d like to learn more about 5G and other mobile technologies that are set to disrupt the communication industry, then read our latest article on the subject. It outlines the latest news from 2017’s Mobile World Congress and why we should be excited by it.