Implementing the fifth generation of digital communication networks is what will support the future of technological advancement. To make its implementation practical with a positive effect on the economy, effective utilization of existing infrastructure is key. This will also uplift the currently slacking telecom network revenue.
The expanding 5G landscape and wireless connectivity at the core of this technological evolution will provide new business opportunities as well as enable businesses to become more efficient and customer centric.
5G can be a key driver for digital transformation, however the service providers need to overcome the challenges posed by the current global economic environment. The outbreak of the COVID-19 has negatively impacted the global economy and has created a hindrance in the 5G deployments world-wide.
The telecom market has shifted away from 5G during the first half of 2020 with a slow elevation in the subsequent quarters due to demand disruption, supply chain issues and Capex spend restructuring. The GSM Association has cut its forecast for 2020 5G connections by 25 percent, predicting around 150 million 5G connections globally by the end of the year.
5G with its enormous potential will not just help in the times of these extreme disruptions but will be the driver for growth in the post pandemic world. Hence there is a need for concerted and coordinated efforts by governments as well as Telecom operators and OEMs to push through commercial roll outs of 5G to unlock the potential of the available technologies and provide impetus to the global growth agenda which is currently deeply disrupted.
5G will not only help organizations deal with the higher data demand but also will help them in overcoming the challenges of demand and supply side disruptions posed by the pandemic.
5G can transform the global economy and create significant opportunities for the businesses
As demand for data grows exponentially across the world, network upgrade and deployment of 5G will be the key to survival for organizations and Telecom service providers. As per the industry trade group GSMA, as of July 2020 there have been 81 commercial 5G launches encompassing 7 percent of the population penetration and it is predicted that by 2025, 5G will account for 20 percent of the global connections.5G technologies are expected to contribute $7.5tr global GDP value by 2030.
Major 5G use-cases to help revive the global economy include Industry automation, Mission critical applications, Self-driving vehicles, disinfectant drones/ robots, remote surgery, smart city, remote working, 3D videos, HD screens, work and play in the cloud, augmented reality / virtual reality, Cloud based hospital systems, smart video surveillance for enterprises, and smart home / building.
Dealing with changing customer behavior
There is a need to offer an exceptional customer experience to drive incremental revenue from existing customers as new sales have significantly dried up due to social distancing and the economic onslaught of the pandemic. The rollout of 5G will have a massive impact on customer experience as a faster, more reliable network will emerge and help businesses in enhancing their existing customer experience strategies.
5G will create a seamless browsing and omni channel experience for the end-user increasing the probability of a sale. It will enable ease of deployment of disruptive technologies such as VR/VR, AI, IoT, and Software as a Service (SaaS) which will capture consumers’ attention. 5G will enable advanced analytics and deployment of intelligent interactive platforms, resulting in greater understanding of customer preferences and connectivity between brands and consumers.
Focus areas for enterprises
The next wave of innovation in the telecom sector is being driven through enterprise solutions led by 5G. With the pandemic, the world has witnessed a mass shift to digital in order to survive the immense margin pressure, competitive landscape and to stay relevant in the current scenario. Enterprises have been forced to create digital platforms to replace their high cost physical infrastructure.
More and more organizations are significantly augmenting their digital transformation agendas and implementing new technologies such as AI/ML, RPA, Cloud, Blockchain, IoT, M2M and advanced data analytics in the heart of their business’s operations resulting in fundamental changes to how their businesses will operate going forward and how they will deliver value to customers.
There will also be demand for critical control in applications that require reliability and stability, such as autonomous vehicles, automated mining systems, video surveillance and monitoring, cloud robotics and automated warehouses.
New revenue generating opportunities
5G-enabled business environments will enable unparalleled opportunities for automation, digital transformation, business intelligence, and generate new revenue streams across all sectors such as healthcare, automobile, manufacturing, Education, Retail, Utilities, E-commerce etc. For example, unmanned vehicles, smart grids, AR/VR content, robotic surgeries etc. will drive growth through alliances/partnership models between Telcos, technology players and service providers.
5G has enormous transformation capabilities and evolving use cases which have become even more relevant in the current scenario. However, there are still a few challenges in the rollout and implementation that need to be catered to.
There is still a strong need for collaboration with the regulators and other vendors and alliances to encourage interoperability, attract investments and more importantly, to lower the cost-to-serve per GB of 5G data to ensure higher outreach of the technology and continued benefits to the society as a whole.
Typical challenges that the operators are facing in rolling out 5G networks include –
# Telcos need to invest significant capex for building the 5G infrastructure including spectrum, radio access network (RAN) infrastructure, transmission, and core networks.
# To improve transmission, capacity and latency requirements, telcos must commence large-scale fiberization efforts to support small-cell deployment in urban areas.
# Delays in 5G spectrum auctions and regulations and higher floor price for the spectrum.
# The enterprise segment is considered to be a huge part of the 5G markets and telcos now need to forge new strategic alliances and create new business models to effectively monetize 5G.
# Operators need to undertake digital transformation initiatives and technological upskilling for employees to make themselves flexible enough to cater to the evolving 5G use-cases.
There are some Imperatives, which the stakeholders need to focus towards successful adoption and commercialization of 5G.
Pairing with the Regulators and Technology Partners
There has to be a close cooperation amongst government, carriers and vendors. Adequate Spectrum Policy measures need to be adopted to encourage long-term heavy investments in 5G network. The carriers need to be enabled to serve thousands of connections at the same time. Multi-vendor Interoperability should be allowed.
Launching a 5G Network with Minimum Investments
Upgrade and retrofit existing sites wherever possible by operating in the non-standalone (NSA) architecture and fast coverage expansion using copy cell. Downlink/ Uplink throughput enhancement with split bearer optimization and MRC beamforming. Reduce Cost-to-serve per GB of 5G data using enhanced spectral efficiency and traffic capacity.
Attracting Enterprises and Customers to get on Board with 5G
Regulators should avoid inflating 5G spectrum prices as this will risk limiting network investment, driving up the cost of services. 5G stakeholders must discuss to ensure spectrum awards and licensing approaches considering technical and commercial deployment plans. Operators should focus on greater weight on 5G subsidy, more attractive tariff than 4G and compelling 5G content.
(This is a slightly modified version of an article originally published in Telecomlead. The original article can be found at https://www.telecomlead.com/5g/5g-driver-for-future-growth-of-global-economy-97931)