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Want to Maximise the Potential of 5G? It’s Time to Take a Look at Your Commerce Systems

5G is here – to a degree. We need not look far to see the spread of the technology worldwide: according to GSMA Intelligence, by the end of 2021 5G networks will cover one fifth of the global population, with the Covid-19 pandemic having had little impact on momentum as service providers respond to changing market demands. And the early signs are that there is money to be made from 5G – a good thing. But – and this doesn’t come as much of a surprise – a lot of that money is currently flowing from communications service providers to vendors.

Of course, this is the joy of being in an infrastructure-based industry: networks always have to be built before you can generate revenue from them. There are also limits to the revenue that can come from 5G – including a finite pool of customers ready to upgrade to ’the next big thing’ in the absence of overwhelming benefits over and above what is possible with 4G.

The prevailing trend so far is that 5G is currently being used to deliver services that are an evolution of what is already available – better mobile broadband services and fixed wireless access. While there may be some potential for a revenue increase from this, it won’t be very much and it probably won’t be for very long. In some cases, operators are already pricing 5G without a premium over 4G services.

The current forms of 5G are very much a stepping stone to the promised land of industry-transforming applications and amazing consumer experiences, which have been the promise of a multitude of PowerPoint slides.

But once networks become available using the next version of the 5G standard – delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic  – things really start to get interesting. Enterprise use-cases piloted in 4G will become ready for prime-time, while AR and VR will power new consumer experiences, underpinned by the availability of high-quality connectivity and lower latency. CSPs will start to see new opportunities to create revenue, rather than trying to squeeze more out of what they can already do.

Here at Hansen, our focus is on empowering service providers to bring new products and services to market quickly, in order to generate new revenue. What we know about 5G is that there are numerous unknown factors for service providers.

We have conducted major studies which show the priorities for CSPs, including an in-depth look at the demands 5G will make on business and operations support systems, and research into CSP priorities for the launch, monetisation and delivery of new services, 5G or otherwise.

Several messages are coming through loud-and-clear. Service providers are looking for systems which will give them the flexibility to launch new products and services quickly and easily in the 5G world, reducing time-to-market in order to effectively meet customer demand. And automation will be the key tool to address inefficiency, as both the products sold and the infrastructure used to deliver them get more complex.

Hansen’s B2B Telecom & Tech Index also shows that enterprise customers are also looking for CSPs to take a leading role in driving 5G into their operations.

CSPs are coming to recognise that while they will be presented with a whole new set of opportunities powered by 5G, they risk missing out and being left behind if they are not able to effectively adapt and respond. And if a service provider isn’t able to act, you can be sure that someone else, somewhere, will.

The writing is on the wall and our key message for CSPs, informed by what CSPs are telling us, is that it is crucial to ensure that operational and business systems, not just networks, are in place to deliver on the commercial potential of truly next-generation 5G services, in whatever form they may take. The worst possible outcome will be for service providers to be unable to act, quickly and efficiently, when opportunity comes knocking on the door.

Steve Costello,
Product & Solutions Marketing Manager