I have lost count of how many trillions $ 5G can generate in the next years. It all depends on the time scale as well as the market segment you are in, whether being hardware, or software, or services, or the entire ecosystem taken from its many different and multiple angles.
But we all agree that there is a common factor beyond all those numbers, and that is the myriad of new business opportunities that 5G will surely create. In all, this is what 5G is about.
5G is not just the fifth generation of existing radio technology. Rather being considered a milestone, 5G should be seen as a cornerstone, a starting point for something entirely new. All the opportunities that the previous mobile wireless generation technologies can make are indeed not over, and they still create businesses. However, they start to become a kind of commodity other than adding new real value to the industry.
As such telecom stakeholders and ISPs shall look at new use cases beyond the connectivity to give a new breath of fresh air to their stagnant market. 5G is a use case driven where the need comes first and the technology comes afterward to address how to define and design it, how to deploy it, and how to generate value and monetize it for a sustainable ROI. So, imagination, new ideas, creativity are the real assets for 5G. This seems to be naïve, but it is instead a revolutionary concept that gives an open check to the industry to continue to enable loads of new use cases that are more and more customer centric.
Pandemic and confinement accelerate digital transformation and 5G
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic change in people’s life. It has changed not just its social habits, its working behaviours and environment, but it has also changed the global businesses. The digital transformation of the economy, that has moved too slowly under its own inertia for years, has received a new impulse as, all of a sudden, everybody had been requested to go online, either being employee, or professional, or student, or to a wider extent, any individual that was confined at home.
This abrupt shift has, in fact, obliged many companies, enterprises or SMEs, and institutions to speed up their digitalization process to protect both their employees and their customers. Smart-working, tele-working, home-offices, distance learning, have become the new paradigm to maintain and sustain those businesses that otherwise would inevitably crash. This change is not straightforward to implement, though. Plugging a simple router at home may not work, especially in those hotspots where the network is congested, or the wired connectivity has no reach. In all those particular scenarios, two technological factors can be the key for success.
5G can be the cost-effective communication technology to handle this growing data traffic demand from consumers located in either overcrowded spots or dispersed in areas where laying down fiber is too expensive. Its enhanced mobile broadband capabilities, high capacity, and high throughput speed that this technology can reach through business models such as FWA (Fixed Wireless Access), or private network running over public networks, are the basis for communication systems that provide a fast and reliable access to data from anywhere.
The second winning element that enables the customer-end to work smoothly and efficiently, to operate with tools for remote collaboration, CRM platforms or whatever cloud-based application, is the edge device. The CPE, the router, will in fact be placed not just at the enterprise or SME premise, but foremost it will be now located in all those remote buildings, houses or any other place where workers may need to be connected with the central head office’s network system through a secure and dedicated access, and where a simple VPN client may not suffice. We can think of those cases where the connectivity is unstable, or rural areas where the only reliable connectivity is wireless (e.g. FWA). Here, dedicated edge-solutions shall combine more access technologies together, and SD-WAN platforms can add enormous value to the end-user by offering them more agile and stabler user experience while enhancing security, reliability, and resilience.
The ability of a company, whatever its size may be, to rapidly adapt its structure, as well as its culture, to the new “digital-home” paradigm has definitely been accelerated by the latest events. So better to be quick, to be wise and, foremost, to be back in business.