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Telcos and vendors see the introduction of 5G differently

‘5G Evolved and Defined’ asked 101 respondents a series of questions based on a starting assumption that vendors tend to be more bullish about 5G than operators. “Like lions waiting on the Masai Mara for wildebeest to pass by, vendors want operators to hurry up and get migrating – they’re hungry,” the report notes.

When asked what stage they were at with 5G-related infrastructure and technology, 42 per cent said they were still ‘watching developments’, with 38 per cent working on trials with telcos, and 36 per cent at the planning stage. Notably, among CSP/telco respondents, the percentage at the planning stage leapt up to 61 per cent.

Reduced latency of 5G was considered to be the most important benefit (60 per cent of respondents), followed by enhanced wireless broadband (53 per cent), greater collaboration with verticals on business applications (44 per cent), and connection density, increased network speed and faster deployment of services (all 38 per cent). Increased ARPU was seen as the lowest benefit (13 per cent), which is unsurprising to us, given where revenues are expected to be found, but it’s a point that will need to be repeated as the hype around 5G grows.

IoT was the top choice when asked what five 5G services respondents were focused on delivering first (32 per cent). Services were the focus for 16 per cent of respondents, followed by video and broadband (both 11 per cent), and enhanced mobile broadband (9 per cent).

When asked if 5G is expected to increase enterprise revenues, 39 per cent said ‘yes’ and 37 per cent responded ‘probably’. Only 9 per cent said ‘not at all’.

And this is the crucial point. Enhanced mobile broadband, or eMBB, is interesting but as a consumer proposition, probably isn’t going to generate revenue (see above). Whereas, IoT which can be targeted both directly and through new enterprise partnerships, is much more interesting. It represents new revenue from market expansion and, as such, it’s a rather different opportunity than most CSPs currently address.

All of this investment will require payback. The results are yet another confirmation that CSPs are seeking entirely new sources of revenue and that they are becoming realistic about the potential to obtain this from existing customers. The real question is how they will really secure this, given their inexperience of dealing building offers for specific vertical markets.

In terms of verticals that have the most potential for CSPs to target with 5G capabilities, Automotive was far and away the most popular choice with 70 per cent of respondents’ voting for the sector. Manufacturing followed with 42 per cent, while Healthcare, Transportation (other than Automotive) and Media/Gaming all garnered 38 per cent. Heavy equipment/Construction was seen as having the least potential.

This reinforces the point. Automotive may well be the most attractive, but CSPs are hardly alone in thinking so. They face stiff competition from established players. Aspirations are one thing, but they will need to find the right models through which the can deliver. Partnership is clearly the right approach. Rather than trying to own the complete service, CSPs must recognise that they will have to partner with specialists and be a part of a larger value chain, rather than trying to claim it all.