The exhibition halls were full of demonstrations – some on live 5G networks - that suggest even more potential use cases from connected diggers and port logistics, to robots and self-drive cars.
Representatives from industry verticals are truly excited by the potential for efficiency, quality and performance gains that 5G offers their business processes. They have ideas aplenty for how to build transformational business propositions on top of 5G; propositions based on a high speed, ultra-low latency, low power, secure, reliable and flexible network that can be infinitely and dynamically sliced up, all backed by enforceable SLAs, controlled by them and delivered as a cost substantially lower than current networks.
Ericsson puts a number on these new revenue streams for CSPs at anything from $209bn to $619bn depending on the role CSPs take. Whether you believe these numbers or not, it is fair to say that there is strong revenue potential in these areas and it will be demand-driven.
Andreas Mueller, senior expert and project manager at Bosch is representative of the type of customer CSPs can expect. He claims that “Industry 4.0 is killer app for 5G” and while the concept of a ‘killer app’ is one that should have died with 3G, it does illustrate just how much he and other industry vertical players want to convince the mobile world and CSPs particularly, of their market value.
Slice up the slices
Mueller has a strong understanding of his need for network slicing – and not just a network slice per vertical but many, many more. He claims, “We need use case slices or it [5G] is useless.” Furthermore, he wants sub-slices that he, not the MNO control and the ability to ramp up and tear down slices in less than 10 minutes. He also wants services that works across network and country borders and that means interconnection and security over the interconnection, which isn’t currently part of the 3GPP standards although it is being worked on. He also wants that international connection to be low latency.
For example, he wants to be able to remotely operate production machines in China from headquarters in Germany. A simple request but one that is beset with technical issues and complexity as the remote-control device includes an emergency stop button. That means local edge intelligent control as well as central control and it means complicated and dynamic orchestration.
Neither does Mueller’s wish list stop there. He wants end-to- end QoS, backed by accurate and granular SLA monitoring in real time and the potential for third party SLA monitoring. In fact the list of requirements just goes on and on.
5G just getting started
According to the big 5G infrastructure vendors – Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung - 5G is now a reality with all citing numerous memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and a handful of commercial contracts with deployments beginning in Q3 2018. These 5G deployments set the foundations for new revenue streams associated with the massive machine and mission critical use cases.
There is no doubt that 5G has potential to create much-needed new revenue streams for CSPs but to unlock them, they will have to do much more than deploy release 15. They need to create entirely new network topologies, put orchestration at the heart of their network development and build a new generation of IT to deliver the network management and operational and business support services will turn technology into services and revenue.
5G has started, it’s development is faster than any previous generation of mobile technology and that speed of development needs to continue.