The five in 5G

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5G promises to enable a real-time user experience.

Industry has been fraught with the questions and ideas around customer experience. For the provider of services, it is about faster availability of information to serve the customer and the right products with which to appeal to the intended segments. As the world explodes with data, the insatiable need to access information on demand and new business models demanding hyper connectivity, is putting massive pressure on telecom operators.

If 2G and 3G enabled accessibility, and 4G brought anywhere, anytime connectivity, then 5G is about almost limitless communication. 5G comes at a time when digital disruption is at its peak and, to get the most out of it, a communication provider has to keep pace. Some say that 5G may not be the solution for the already stressed operators but it is a promising investment.

I recently attended an event in London, where the discussion briefly went toward “where is the money?” and the point was, if the telcos are risking billions in the 5G investment without being sure of the returns. Unsurprisingly, telcos argued on two counts:

  1. They must invest to upgrade their infrastructure anyway
  2. They are not the connectors (or traditional telcos) anymore, they are technology providers with a strong connectivity capability.

The second point was a sound argument to me. That’s why it is important to look at the use cases 5G will be able to support and catalyze. Let’s form a view of the core characteristics of 5G and connect with the business.

5G will bring in drastic improvements in speed, latency, coverage, density, and capacity.

Speed

5G will bring in speeds 10 times faster than 4G.

We’ve all experienced the joys of dial-up modems and now our mobile phones vie for bandwidth bringing us video chat capabilities while we travel. Imagine download speeds of 100Mbps or theoretical possibilities of 10 Gbps! Businesses will operate differently, and new, innovative use cases will crop up. Virtual reality simulations, dramatically better application performance, and real-time video supporting augmented reality will boost the user experience like never before.

Latency

Real-time, real-life experiences.

When latency drops dramatically below 10ms, the industrial automation gets a fillip like never before. AI and RPA will support IoT sensors and wireless devices to bring in optimized manufacturing flawlessly. Financial institutions trading unimaginable volumes will be able to provide lightning-fast, real-time user experience with instant banking experience on their mobile devices. 5G will mean zero waiting time.

Density

In the hyper-connected world where people, devices, and places exchange data all the time, the communication networks need to be planned accordingly. The spread of data-generating nodes will be uneven and dynamic. Today’s networks cannot support this dynamism but 5G will be able to, with a connection density of one million connections per square kilometer at any point. Smart cities, though they be off to a slow start, will be a natural habitat by 2022. Every street light, road sign, parking bay, and meeting room will be able to get the information across seamlessly.

Coverage

Call drops, poor signal, and dead zones kill many of our transactions and important voice conference calls. Fast forward to 2020, when billions of IoT devices and smarter objects will be transacting with each other automatically, the network will need to support this. Today’s communication technologies do have such limitations. 5G will rise to the coverage challenge with smaller cells and beamforming. Businesses such as those relying on field services (delivery for example), safety and social services such as police, who rely so much on coverage will find it much easier to operate.

Capacity

And finally, imagine if bandwidth is not a constraint anymore. With a 100-fold capacity leap over 4G, 5G will enable collaboration like never before. The internet of everything needs a platform to generate, analyze and act on the massive data loads, 5G provides this colossal capacity leap. Imagine the businesses which can rely on such capacity and speed and could proactively maintain their equipment or manage resources in real time.

In summary, 5G’s need arises from the use cases which new technologies have made possible in the last couple of years. With arguably an unlimited number of opportunities, 5G will inspire many more new innovative ideas to do business than we could imagine because we were constrained by the limits of networks connecting us. New business models, new types of businesses will bring a raft of revenue streams for all the industries. Therefore, the telecom operators of tomorrow with partner ecosystem of OEMs, system integrators and end-user industry aim to seize this opportunity with the required investments. The ecosystem will operate in a hyper-agile mode and telecom operators must unlearn the classic ways of operating to seize the opportunity new technologies are bringing.

At Capgemini, we are co-creating with our strategic telecom partners to connect the dots and drive forward towards realizing the potential new technologies offer. We would love to hear your thoughts and welcome your ideas on how you see the use cases of 5G develop through the coming years.

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