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Colourful diversity: 5G must meet the requirements of very different business applications.
Colourful diversity: 5G must meet the requirements of very different business applications.
( Source: Public Domain / Pixabay)

Communication 5G Myth #5: When the network is up and running, the users come on their own

| Author/ Editor: Michael Eckstein / Florian Richert

Telcos and their technology suppliers are currently setting the course in the development and standardization of mobile communications. This will no longer be sufficient for 5G.

In contrast to its predecessors, 5G is the first generation of mobile communications that not only primarily address the consumer market. Instead, the technology intends to enable wireless communication and data transmission for many different applications - especially in industry, transportation, energy supply, and other areas. This increasingly vertical orientation offers market players many opportunities for exciting business models. At the same time, it is a reason why the new technology is more complicated than its predecessors.
The same standardization committees and regulatory bodies that developed the previous mobile communications standards or created the framework conditions for them are responsible for developing the standard. This has advantages - but also disadvantages. The fifth part of our series shows that 5G can only achieve its promised potential if representatives from the target groups are also involved in the standardization process as early as possible.

5G Myth #5: When the network is up and running, users come on their own

The broad deployment of 5G has an impact on the work of standardization and regulatory bodies. Market analyst ABI Research convinces that they must cooperate much more closely than before with players in a wide range of target markets and develop targeted strategies for vertical enterprise applications. Only in this way can they identify the different needs and incorporate them into the standardization process. This is the prerequisite for actually being able to leverage the high sales potential forecast. According to ABI, "business as usual," i.e., the more or less linear development of mobile communications technology as seen from the perspective of older generations, will no longer work.
Instead, developments would have to take into account the foreseeable heterogeneity of 5G implementations, such as public and private networks, the use of licensed and unlicensed spectrum, or the splitting of the network into several slices, which would allow resources allocated to different applications according to need.

Committees must ask and answer essential questions

For 5G to ultimately work as planned, i.e., to meet the needs of as many industries as possible, the technology must base on a very flexible architecture. According to the ABI, the committees should address critical questions for its development - and use the answers to coordinate the standardization process:

  • Can existing standardization frameworks, initially designed for the consumer market, be extended to vertical enterprise applications?
  • Do the responsible standardization bodies need to change their organizational structures and working methods to meet the new and dynamic demands of rapidly evolving business markets?
  • Will these changes affect - i.e., increase - the speed at which standard releases published?
  • Which new players with interest in different vertical applications should influence the existing standardization bodies?
  • Who will be the winners and losers of this transformation?

Cooperation between key stakeholders, including technology importers, governments, and standardization bodies from different industries, must be part of the 5G governance model, according to ABI Research. The "build it, and they will come" approach used by mobile service providers and technology suppliers to date will no longer work - at least not in areas of vertical applications. Instead, the development of the 5G standard will have to be driven by the needs of enterprises - with the ultimate goal of making the network architecture flexible and agile enough to address current and future requirements in different industries.

Professional users seek professional, secure solutions

Higher download speeds and faster response times may encourage end-users to take advantage of 5G offerings. Business users, as a new target group, are unlikely to be impressed by this. This audience is looking for technologies that can help them effectively streamline their business processes and increase their productivity, efficiency, security, and reliability. They are looking for networks that are agile enough to meet their current dynamically and future needs, simple enough to integrate with their existing legacy technologies, and reliable enough to ensure deterministic and consistent operation.

Therefore, 5G standardization bodies would need to integrate potential industrial customers as key contributors to their processes and allow them to help shape the roadmap of 5G specifications. ABI warns that if the current dominant MSPs and technology providers continue to rely on antiquated concepts to protect their current interests and legacy businesses, they risk missing out on the wave of digitization currently taking place in many industries. Then they will remain pure connectivity providers without new business opportunities.

This article was first published in German by Elektronikpraxis.