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Way Beyond Smartphones

October 21, 2021 - Frank Healy

5G is rightly becoming understood more as a catalyst for service change rather than change itself. Massive service diversity and thousands of new use cases are on their way. The role of successful service providers is set to evolve dramatically in 2022.

Sceptics of 5G often argue that new services can happen without 5G – that 4G and a mix of other things are pretty good and won’t inhibit the launch of many new services. The trouble with scepticism of course, as the saying goes, is that it is “riddled with the faith of yesterday”. They are not wrong that services will progress anyway with or without 5G, given the human inclination to move forward. At the very least however, many sceptics tend to admit that existing services could be made somewhat better by some or more of the key promises of 5G, especially improvements to latency, speed and device density. The potential of 5G, in other words, still exists if not always the execution. Add in some of the broader benefits of 5G and services make even more sense at least for service providers or their partners, even from a conservative cost-control perspective: cloud, slicing, coverage, capacity, data management, security, flexibility and time-to-market benefits to mention just a few. End-users and analysts, even the most sceptical, will very soon start to see benefits perhaps even as passive users of enterprise services if not direct buyers themselves.

After the initial flurry of 5G press releases around 2019, some service providers have been steadily, sometimes even quietly, evolving in the right direction. Or really that should be “directions” (plural) since standalone (SA) 5G involves an end-to-end re-working of the network across a range of functions and dimensions that in turn open a wide range of opportunities way beyond smartphones.

Exposing 5G in a credible way to ever evolving and sometimes battle-scarred developer ecosystems is still largely under-explored territory for many service providers. This alone can lead to a not unhealthy discussion about the positioning, future identity and even purpose of service providers. What if this exposure could be the democratisation of innovation-led and 5G-driven service enablement at the heart of which forward-looking service providers can be firmly positioned?

5G and, more importantly, the rewards of new service development will be enormous for some service providers over the next decade. The opportunities for diversity of monetisation models will be so wide that many existing revenue-management functions will struggle to keep up. In the coming months and years, service providers that have done the work will be more akin to portfolio managers in the finance world. Their options for entry into new segments, whether end-to-end or in variable wholesale (B2B2x) ways, will be so varied and so automatic that they will need new means to establish partnerships rapidly and even instantly. Services will be possible to launch passively, via partners and scaling will be as-needed and infinite. The alternative may be punishment by actual financial markets for failing to cater for ever faster service requirements.

As we continue this journey from dozens to hundreds and even thousands of potential use cases and segments, the marketing and wider teams at Openet have of course been scanning the horizon for our picks of 2021/22 use cases in our latest edition of “101 Use Cases”. More than ever however, we are certain that the hyper-flexibility mentioned above, to cater for thousands of uses is within reach for our customers. So, more than ever this is not an exhaustive list of use cases but a mere sample. They are ones we like and seem to point to a future that is, we hope, like ourselves: “built for change”.  

For more on these topics and all 101 use cases, please download the latest edition of our eBook.

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