A survey commissioned by Ericsson on operators’ readiness for 5G reveals that a large majority—82%—of technical respondents believe multiuser Massive MIMO is an essential feature for 5G.
Multiuser Massive MIMO dynamically transmits data as highly focused beams to simultaneously send and receive multiple data signals over the same radio channel, enabling multiple users to use the same time and frequency resources, which, Ericsson points out, is key to many of the performance gains expected in 5G because it increases spectral efficiency for higher capacity and throughput from the same amount of spectrum.
Other features identified as essential to 5G are device-to-device connection (71%), network security (68%), virtualized network functions (68%) and network slicing (68%).
The survey’s objective was to obtain a snapshot of the state of the industry in relation to next-generation mobile technology. Last year’s survey was the first of its kind, and they struggled to find 50 executives globally who were far enough along in 5G to answer the survey questions. This year, they easily identified 50 executives, both business and technical leaders, from 37 operators around the world.
The report shows operators have made steady progress in their strategies for 5G in addressing the needs of enterprises, industries and consumers. But their strategies, understandably, appear to be changing. In 2016, 90% pointed to consumers as the central segment in their planning and only 34% focused on specialized industries. This year, operators are seeing that the consumer market is saturated, so planning for 5G is more evenly split across specialized industry segments (58%), business users (56%) and consumers (52%), according to the report.
Asked to rank their top three industry sectors, respondents put Media and Entertainment high on their list, followed by Automotive and Public Transport. Healthcare and Energy & Utilities were each placed in the top three by less than a third of those surveyed.
Of course, the big question is how operators are going to make money from 5G. The report found that in saturated markets, such as North America, operators envision monetizing 5G connectivity by taking market share from competitors with new features and performance (23%) or better pricing (18%); by migrating current 4G subscribers to 5G and charging more for 5G features (23%); and by expanding to new enterprise/industry markets (18%).
Fortunately, the majority of respondents seem to know that simply raising rates is not going to work. Some 64% agree that consumers are simply tapped out, while 68% said new revenue-sharing models are needed to monetize 5G, and 88% said IoT will play a major role in monetization.