By Jacob Reeb, VP of Business Development, Cambridge Consultants
It is clear to me that no individual or business has remained untouched by the pandemic. But just as sure is my belief that technological innovation will drive our recovery and usher in a new dawn of digitalization. 5G will be at the heart of this, helping enterprises improve their resilience and power their growth.
Significant breakthroughs will be spurred on by 5G and shaped by open source technology and shared spectrum that lower the cost of high-performance communications. This will give rise to a new wave of ‘network natives’ – enterprises whose business models are built around reliable, high-performance connectivity.
These capabilities will be founded on the platform created by technologies such as 5G, network slicing and edge computing. They will also leverage AI, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and numerous advanced technologies.
It is here where ambitious operators and companies should be aware of the huge potential in sectors such as manufacturing, automotive, healthcare, telemedicine and the reimagining of retail. These opportunities are explored in our whitepaper, ‘The real power of 5G’.
We’ve arrived at this threshold after a few short years of rapid evolution. The easy availability of broadband connectivity has spawned the Netflix generation of cloud native companies, which have been invaluable during lockdown. With little infrastructure of their own, they typically rely on public or hybrid cloud to bring best-effort broadband connectivity to their facilities and customers.
What’s the significant shift? We’re now seeing more companies with infrastructure that consists of both cloud and private networks for high-performance service enablement. This represents a growing opportunity with the advent of private, virtualized 5G networks and the availability of CBRS spectrum.
We coined the term ‘network native’ to reflect their ability to provide significantly higher levels of quality and experience by customizing connectivity. Just as powerfully, they are integrating their customer-facing operations with internal business processes to achieve levels of automation and efficiency well beyond the reach of other enterprises.
Beyond the one-size-fits all network
‘Network native’ capability, then, represents huge value to the telecoms industry. But what does it take to move beyond a one-size-fits all network approach and integrate a much more customized model?
Let’s provide some context. It is already clear that simply providing more network capacity is not enough to release the desired new revenue streams of 5G. There are many services that industry is seeking to address with Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) capabilities where the experience is closely coupled to the capabilities of the underlying network. They include radio networks for emergency services, railways, resource extraction, industrial control and air traffic control.
Intimate knowledge of the challenges of those environments and the requirements of those industries is needed to ensure that solutions address expectations. It’s also necessary to augment the 5G platform with other capabilities to support high-performance connectivity, like the provision of functionality executed at the network edge.
Device complexity and cost is optimized by locating functionality in the network edge and incorporating it seamlessly into product functionality. Take, for instance, augmented reality glasses. The compute needed to create the augmented image is performed in the network edge and combined with the glasses via URLLC 5G connectivity.
Cellular connectivity continues to extend into increasingly demanding environments. At the same time, the services in question are becoming more safety critical. Just look at the control of robots in warehouses and factory environments. The precise orchestration of large numbers of robots is just as essential for human workers as it is for the efficient operation of facilities.
Evolving 5G into new verticals
As a society we have become more and more accustomed to always being connected. To keep us all happy, the provision of mobile broadband service is becoming increasingly reliant on technologies capable of coping with long range, high speed and high Doppler shift requirements. This has become apparent here at Cambridge Consultants, through our work in developing robust, high-performance technologies for the likes of aviation, satellite, manufacturing and transportation. This has led me to believe that to successfully evolve 5G into new verticals, operators must create portfolios of enabling technologies and digital services that adapt to targeted use cases.
Network natives will leverage these to optimize internal operations or to improve the value of the products and services. This could completely revolutionize their competitive advantage in the form of new business models, create new insights into the use of the product and bring superior service levels to their customers.
We are lucky enough to be working alongside ambitious players from both telecoms and industry to bring this to life. It’s an opportunity I believe has huge potential and one which could play a vital role in responding to the emerging economic crisis.
To discover more, download our new paper ‘The real power of 5G’.