Most service providers still not pursuing 5G value creation

Most service providers still not pursuing 5G value creation

5G is still in infancy, making it difficult to predict when it will become significant, but telcos are eager to see return on investments. Executives from BCG, Heriot-Watt University Dubai, CommScope, NETSCOUT share perspectives.

The telecommunications sector is a significant contributor to UAE’s GDP. According to Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of UAE, the sector contributed 4.1% to the country’s GDP in 2020, which amounted to approximately AED 41.6 billion. The Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy announced that the UAE’s national digital economy is expected to surge from $38 billion to $140 billion by 2031, as the Emirate successfully pursues its digital transformation journey, according to a new report. The deployment of 5G networks is expected to play a pivotal role in this growth.

“5G promises low latency and high network capacity that will enable devices real-time ability to sense and respond,” says Dr Ubaid Abbasi, Assistant Professor, School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Dubai.

Dr Ubaid Abbasi, Assistant Professor, School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Dubai
Dr Ubaid Abbasi, Assistant Professor, School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Dubai

“As 5G networks become more prevalent and businesses start to adopt 5G-built applications, CIOs need to prepare connected devices and networks to ensure a smooth transition,” adds Abbasi.

According to BCG’s Managing Director and Partner, Shoaib Yousuf, it is still difficult to find businesses that have pursued the fifth vector of value creation. “This will almost certainly change, but 5G is still in its infancy in majority of markets, making it difficult to predict when it will become a significant factor. Even so, there are plenty of opportunities related to 5G, particularly in B2B applications like industrial automation and logistics, and telcos are eager to see a return on their 5G investments.”

5G architecture

According to a recent market report, commercial 5G services have already been deployed in 1,500+ cities across 60 nations. The incorporation of AI technology is one of the major advancements transforming the use and execution of 5G networks. AI is assisting organisations with 5G networks in automating routine, time-consuming, and repetitive processes, as well as allowing for the detection of network events that humans cannot determine.

“The next generation of networks cannot function unless they are highly automated. The complexity of the 5G network and the wide spectrum of ecosystem partners are unlike previous wireless generations, necessitating advanced, AI-powered automation. Without that aid, the risk of poor customer experience is far too large,” says Gaurav Mohan, VP, SAARC, and Middle East, NETSCOUT.

Shoaib Yousuf, Managing Director and Partner, BCG
Shoaib Yousuf, Managing Director and Partner, BCG

“Furthermore, in the midst of data scientist staffing shortages, network automation frees up overworked staff to focus on the most difficult, mission-critical issues,” adds Mohan.

One of the biggest impacts of 5G is on staging of large public events. These large event sites, need to have capacity to support multiple simultaneous high-bandwidth wireless connections, which many incorrectly assume as Wi-Fi only, especially if it is indoors.

The truth is that indoor cellular networks, whether 4G, LTE or 5G in large venues are typically carried by a distributed antenna system, that connects remote networks to a headend that backhauls to the core network.

The high-density architecture of 5G distributed antenna systems, not only provides a massive pipeline for tweets, media streaming, selfies, and texts, but also offers the bandwidth to support the next generation of more interactive and immersive applications.

5G’s impressive fronthaul and mid-haul capabilities create two new and unique backhaul challenges: the need for extremely high capacity backhaul to support the denser radio networks and meeting the low latency requirements for advanced applications that may require breakout to local edge datacentres.

Gaurav Mohan, VP, SAARC, and Middle East, NETSCOUT
Gaurav Mohan, VP, SAARC, and Middle East, NETSCOUT

“In this scenario, we can witness the coexistence of both public and private 5G networks. Depending on their usage, security and point-of-sales will run under private networks whereas fan experience will run on public networks,” says Samuel Buttarelli, VP, ICN EMEA and APAC, CommScope.

Service providers

According to a recent industry report, the cellular industry has invested more than $100 billion in private money in 5G connection over the last five years.

CSPs and enterprises will need to adapt their networks to achieve the security, performance, and availability required to swiftly roll-out services in the most cost-effective way feasible to provide the best digital experience for customers. This will necessitate multi-purpose, high-fidelity, real-time visibility across all network layers, from physical to virtualised services and automation.

The capacity to view live, real-time IP packet data across both physical and virtual, cloud infrastructures is referred to as smart visibility. Companies can then build smart data, analytics-ready meta data collected and optimised from real-time traffic flows, to deliver actionable intelligence based on a real-time, end-to-end view of the network, services, technologies, and subscribers.

Samuel Buttarelli, VP, ICN EMEA and APAC, CommScope
Samuel Buttarelli, VP, ICN EMEA and APAC, CommScope

“Smart visibility provides a single source of truth, allowing carriers to see deep into the most complex aspects of their networks and disclose the end-to-end subscriber experience. This is critical for staying ahead of problems, optimising the user experience, and automating networks to maximise spectrum efficiency,” explains NETSCOUT’s Mohan.

Telecom service providers need to invest in building a robust and reliable 5G network infrastructure. This includes deploying 5G base stations, upgrading existing infrastructure, and building new infrastructure for backbone, that is fibre-optic networks.

Statistica claims that 5G mobile subscriptions will rise from 24 million in 2022 to 270 million by 2028. The B2C market will flourish due to the availability of 5G enabled handsets and the rollout of the services by the service providers.

In the B2B scenario, service providers will have a more direct impact that involves partnering and collaborating with clients to showcase the value of the technology, especially for mission-critical networks. 5G private networks will provide the service providers with an opportunity to monetise and accelerate 5G deployments.

CIO checklist

CIOs should begin by assessing their current network infrastructure and connected devices to determine compatibility with 5G. They should identify any potential areas that may need to be upgraded or replaced. CIOs may also need to upgrade their network infrastructure to support 5G technology. This may include increasing bandwidth, deploying small cells, and upgrading switches and routers.

Most importantly, CIOs should also ensure that networks and devices are secure. This may include deploying firewalls, implementing encryption, and updating security protocols. Moreover, it is also important for the CIO to invest in training the staff to ensure that they have skills and expertise for managing 5G infrastructure and applications.

The availability of high-speed connectivity and advanced technologies supported by 5G could lead to the development of new digital products and services and the creation of new job opportunities. 5G networks can support a massive number of connected devices and accommodate a higher volume of data traffic. This scalability is crucial for organisations dealing with many IoT devices, or data-intensive applications.

With its high-speed data transfer capabilities, 5G networks can also support digital transformation through advanced technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, which can drive innovation and productivity across many sectors.

Click below to share this article

Browse our latest issue

Intelligent CIO Middle East

View Magazine Archive