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Accelerated 5G expectations

April 16, 2020 - Frank Healy

Customer expectations of telecoms have changed. For service providers this means that cloud native flexibility is more important than ever.

What a difference a few weeks have made. When it comes to global events it seems nothing much can be taken for granted any more. Fortunately networks have, in general, held up well. With so many users based at home on good old broadband, traffic on video-conferencing services such as Zoom have grown by over 500% according to various reports. Expectations as well as presumptions have however probably changed forever. For service providers that had already been transforming, or at least willing to transform before 2020, this will be a good thing. After all, many had been talking about topics like “hyperscale” and “edge” and “personalised service” for years. Then along came 5G and it seemed like the pause button was pressed again for a while. Network philosophies like interworking and compatibility (with 4G) needed to be figured out again. None of it really meant too much to most consumers.

Now we’re in a new era of expectation again. Brand loyalties seem to mean something different than they did a year ago. Some well-regarded brands will fail regardless. As users stay online for longer, other brands will be disconnected unless services continuously improve as digital experiences. Whether that trend continues remains to be seen but it seems consumers will be less forgiving than ever.

This means that service providers will need to be more meaningfully in tune in real-time with what consumers expect and how they are evolving. Companies of every size will be questioned about their social engagement. New service elements will have to be constantly tested, trialled and re-trialled on an almost daily basis. Perhaps most importantly, the latency, speed, coverage, capacity and density promises of 5G and the plethora of suggested use cases will need to move beyond mere suggestion. Ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC) will be under particular scrutiny, whether for gamers, bankers, vehicles, drones or robots. B2B2x and government segments have had to redefine testing requirements in recent weeks. Many new services will now have to be accessible out of the gate for a sufficiently wide base and will have to make sense or consumers will expect apologies. Even though many service providers only started launching 5G in 2019, for many, 2019 will soon seem like a long time ago. The “concept-through-to-delivery” cycle has suddenly shrunk further.

The good news for service providers that have been anticipating the need for cloud-native flexibility is that the demanded acceleration will provide massive upside. Consumers will have a renewed willingness to try new services. For example, an older generation, suddenly educated on various video-conferencing and entertainment platforms will expect to be always connected. Of course when people are no longer locked down at home then services will have to work everywhere. The new diversity of potential services will provide way more than “all you can eat” bundle opportunities. Service providers will once again need to manage diversity in terms of service value. The “value of the bit” or simply put: the value of relevance will once again take hold. For example a sensor in a hospital environment may be way more critical than the same sensor in a factory. Should they be managed and monetised the same way?

This service diversity in the near-term on top of already complex network environments certainly provides a lot of challenges for service providers. Consolidation of existing platforms, combined with the ability to monetise the promises of 5G will simply prove too much for some by the end of 2021. For others, it represents massive opportunity. Flexibility as well as control in addition to efficient transition to 5G and consolidated monetisation are far less mutually exclusive than they may have seemed in 2019. Above all: staying relevant will be the key to success up to and including 2021.

For further information on Openet’s approach to achieving competitive advantage via Digital and 5G Monetisation click here.

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