Making 5G a Game Changer

Ozzy Osbourne’s Best Buy 5G advert should be compulsory viewing for anybody contemplating the future of mobile networks and 5G within a telco.

‘What’s a 6G’ and ‘How many b****y Gs are there?!’

…. should have alarm bells ringing in anyone responsible for making money from 5G networks. Its underlying message is that users will have no idea what 5G is beyond a newer handset or why they need to spend more for it. We face a real danger that yet another amazing radio technology is introduced and it makes no real difference to our increasingly commoditized market position; 5G HD video streaming is simply another faster connection technology; 5G Internet of Things gives a slightly slicker telemetry environment. 5G, limited to radio and RAN technology changes, (which it could be) changes very little for the telco.

We have grown used to the idea of the telecommunications network as being a single fixed/standardized thing, managed by external monolithic OSS and BSS systems. However, these are very much aligned with the existing telco business model subscribers buying sessions on phones. Today’s RAN network was built for managing phones that could be highly mobile and that required voice call continuity. Today’s mobile OSS/BSS was built for billing and managing a subscriber with that phone.

The explosive growth of wi-fi networks, as an alternative to mobile telephony, teaches us that not everything requires seamless call continuity whilst moving at 250km/h and that not all business models see users as subscribers. The very different needs of a city parking solution using road embedded parking sensors (extremely low power consumption) and an eHealth remote doctor solution (HD colour realistic low latency video streaming) should not be met by a single monolithic network or OSS/BSS.

5G needs to be something very different. Rather than attempting to provide a single all purpose ‘network’ and OSS/BSS (to support all possible use cases) we should instead see 5G as a set of ‘network’ and management building blocks that can be dynamically combined into networked solutions. The true opportunity in Network virtualization is that it provides the foundation to flexibly deploy and combine network and management building blocks. The real innovation in 5G can be about the creation of these building blocks both from existing network and management capabilities and from newly innovated IT functions.

By moving the focus of 5G from end device technology and connectivity towards enabling potentially multiple business solutions will allow the telco to move from being a commodity bandwidth supplier to a valued business solution partner. Alternatively it could be business as usual with a shiny new radio technology, or as Ozzy would say

‘All aboard the 5G train!’

Francis Haysom is Chief Technology Officer at Virtualized World. 

photo credit: Lary