The 5G future: How comms players are stepping up to the plate

12 Oct 2017

We will be reaping the benefits of 5G sooner than we think. Image: locrifa/Shutterstock

A new survey from telecoms giant Ericsson reveals emerging 5G strategies.

5G preparation is amping up, according to Ericsson’s recent 5G Readiness Survey 2017, released today (12 October).

Last August, Ericsson surveyed 50 executives in business and technical areas who work for 37 operators globally, which have announced publicly that they are working on cutting-edge network standards.

5G trials are taking off

Ericsson found that 5G trials have skyrocketed, with 78pc of respondents involved compared to just 32pc in 2016. As well as this near-unanimous enthusiasm for 5G trialling, 28pc of respondents expect to be deploying the new standards as early as next year.

Head of 5G commercialisation at Ericsson, Thomas Noren, said that 90pc of respondents point to consumers as the keystone of their business plans.

He noted that strategies are developing: “They [respondents] are now looking beyond the consumer segment and foresee opportunities in the enterprise and industrial segments as well.”

Saturation in the consumer market is a concern for operators and, as a result, the year is more evenly distributed across specialised industry segments, business users and consumers. The number of companies with business models in place for industrial use cases has increased by more than two-thirds.

There were three top industry sectors cited by respondents: media and entertainment, automotive, and public transport. Healthcare also ranked highly, along with energy and utilities, as attractive sectors for 5G applications.

IoT is a major factor

A clear majority of the respondents believe that internet of things (IoT) will play an important role and that third-party collaboration will be essential in this context. 83pc of respondents said IoT will be crucial in fifth-generation deployment plans, while 77pc noted the need to avail of third-party collaboration or consultation in their plans.

In terms of network monetisation, the respondents believe that additional revenue will be generated from increased market share, migration of 4G subscribers, higher prices for new services, and by expansion into new enterprise and industry segments.

A demanding yet rewarding transition

64pc of operators surveyed believe that raising consumer rates is the worst option for effective monetisation, agreeing that consumers are simply “tapped out”. Looking beyond the traditional customer base and broadening business focus will help comms outfits pursue emerging trends and opportunities, in what is a tumultuous and innovative time for the industry at large.

This business strategy transition may be demanding and disruptive, but operators can take steps to ensure a smooth transition.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects