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Policy control will need an overhaul with 5G

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May 15, 2019

Last month, three operators in Korea launched commercial 5G services. Unlike many launches of the latest G, this one had a handset. The Samsung Galaxy S10 for 5G was rolled out on April 5th in Korea and rumours are that it will debut in the US in mid-May. 5G is here. Handset availability has always blighted launches of new Gs, so it was good to see operators launch with handsets that consumers can buy. If the consumer offers we’re seeing offered in Korea are an indication of the potential of 5G, then we’re in for an exciting time. SK Telecom said that they “aim to take customer experience to the next level by offering around 8,000 different content offers in diverse areas including game, ultra-high definition (UHD), AR and VR”. That’s a lot of content offers.

SK Telecom has launched a ‘SKT 5GX’ section within its OTT video service ‘oksusu’. Within this, there are different menus that offer a rich variety of media content designed for 5G. These are ‘VR’, ‘5G MAX’ and ‘UHD’. While it’s interesting to see Ultra Hi-Definition services delivered over 5G, SK Telecom have gone one step further and integrated UHD and VR for sports services. According to SK Telecom’s press release:

“Furthermore, for sports fans, oksusu offering ultra-widescreen broadcasting (12K UHD), which is three times wider than the existing UHD, as well as live broadcasting of sports games that are delivered 15 seconds earlier than other services. It also offers ‘5GX social VR,’ a service that enables multiple users to watch baseball games together in a virtual reality environment.”

All these services will use a lot of data and this is reflected in the data plans. The standard plan is 150GB, 5GX and 5GX Platinum plans offer 200GB and 300GB per month respectively (both these plans are unlimited till the end of June). The appropriately named ‘Slim’, entry-level package offers just 8GB of data (1Mbps speed after data cap).

UHD, interactive VR, 8000 different content offers – and that’s just for starters for consumers offers. With services like UHD and interactive VR, delivering the best network quality of experience will be vital. Once we start to look at enterprise 5G offers and enabling MIoT and smart cities / smart societies, then the ability to guarantee network QoS and low latency will become even more important and may well be baked into service level agreements for large and lucrative enterprise 5G deals. So for example SK Telecom is already implementing 5G with the Korean motor industry both at the factory level (for production-line control) and for autonomous vehicle advancements.

And this is where 5G policy and associated revenues really come in.

As we can see from the consumer services being rolled in Korea, 5G is re-imagining what is possible for ‘telcos’ to provide. This shift needs to be supported and enabled by a re-invention of the systems that manage ‘telecoms’ services. For policy control, we at Openet have gone back to the drawing board and re-invented policy control to be able to support, not just 5G standards, but also the way operators offering 5G services want to work. This includes enabling lower costs, dramatically increased agility, service-slice control, less dependence on existing vendors and a self-service approach to policy control, enabled by ‘blueprints’, which are pre-built out of the box use cases.

5G can change the fortunes of the telecoms industry. The question is, are the operators ready to embrace the new opportunities with a new, open and agile approach to the systems that are needed to turn the 5G vision into revenue?

 

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