Telecom is going through a digital revolution in terms of technology, business models, ecosystem, services, and 5G is set to revolutionize industries. 5G presents a huge opportunity for the digitalization of economies and modernization of all industry sectors.
When Samsung announced that it tested 5G at speeds of 1 GB/second, the prospect of being able to download a HD movie in 30 seconds made headlines. When analysts said that in fact, 5G will run at speeds of 800 GB/second, the excitement of being able to download 33 HD films in one second was difficult to contain.
With users wanting faster downloads, and service providers wanting to provide customers with a seamless user experience, the world awaits ‘real’ 5G – not the ‘concept’ of 5G that we are familiar with today.
But what would a 5G network mean? Would 5G unfurl a new world of fully connected sensors and devices? Would 5G network rewrite the fundamentals for social and economic change, one which blurs geographical and cultural boundaries?
Studies on 5G point to the following:
- Impact on select industries in the near term: 5G will wield a huge influence in Automotive Healthcare and IoT in the near future, and will dramatically change lives. 5G however will take time to have a similar effect on other industries.
- 5G will generate new revenue streams. Per recent research1, 5G network has the potential to unlock up to $12.3 trillion of revenue across a broad range of industries, which is more than the combined spending of China, Japan, France, Germany and the UK (in 2016).
- 5G technology will create new growth, and millions of jobs: By 2035, output from 5G’s global value chain (network operators, technology and component suppliers, device OEMs, infrastructure providers, content and application developers) will be larger than what the entire mobile value chain is today. In terms of contribution to global GDP, research predicts that contribution of 5G between 2020 and 2035 will equal the size of India’s economy today. Also, analysts see 5G supporting 22 million jobs globally.
- 5G will kindle and drive the innovation/invention of new genres of products and services leading to smarter industries, cities, homes, and healthier lives. 5G technology will give rise to new industries, while having an impact of existing businesses – in terms of the products and services provided. Research indicates positive outlooks on 5G’s capability to ensure security and reliability.
While 5G evolves into something more tangible, much will depend on investments being made in 5G infrastructure, and related applications, products and services. In the near term, broad consensus is that initial deployments of 5G will be driven by enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB). However, eMBB alone would not create substantial revenue from 5G for network operators. Past migrations from one generation of mobile technology to the next invariably meant consumers pay almost similar amounts while data speeds increased, and call-data allowances grew due to falling unit network cost.
For wide-spread, transformative impact, and tangible business benefits, the 5th generation of wireless network technologies will need to expand its scope. The possibilities from 5G technology are immense:
Most importantly, 5G makes it possible to explore new ways to manage networks, such as network slicing which enables a single physical network to support many virtual networks with different performance features. For example, on the same infrastructure, one network slice can deliver high-speed mobile broad-band, which another slice might low consumption of terminals over speed of the connection.
5G makes it possible to use the same infrastructure to provide different services to different user groups, and industry-sectors. 5G will therefore open scope for new business models vs. the current environment where network providers offer the same services, and the only differentiation is in the pricing/bill plans.
5G would also herald new roles for intermediaries in the value chain – especially those intermediaries downstream, who come after network operators in the value chain, but who are willing to repackage services, by leveraging different networks to create connectivity services for specific industries. 5G will impact players upstream in the value chain too. For example, 5G would need substantial densification of networks at high frequencies to meet bandwidth requirements. This opens scope for independent operators to acquire infrastructure/sites in certain areas (dense, urban areas such as indoor public spaces) and offer wholesale services providing patches of connectivity to 5G operators.
If appropriate radio frequency spectrum is available, new entrants may overtake traditional network operators by providing connectivity for specific industries, or even within factories or warehouses!
There’s a lot happening on 5G around the world.
- China has narrow lead over US in 5G race
- Why T-Mobile and Sprint merger would give the US a 5G lead
- Vodafone hits major UK 5G milestone
- Deutsche Telekom holds live 5G NR trial in Berlin
- 'World's first' 5G public trial switched on in Australia
While the world waits with bated breath for 5G, here is one technology that holds huge promise for consumers and industries alike – from faster download and upload speeds, to an expansion of advanced technologies – including self-driving cars and smart cities! 5G holds immense possibilities for a smart, connected world.