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5G in the Time of Crisis


When countries seek to bring order and organization to disease control, demographic movement and economic recovery, policymakers are increasingly urged to find ways to stimulate the economy and expenditure in their region. This may involve redesigning the manufacturing structure to cope with limitations on current output and imports, as well as to mitigate impacts on the climate, optimize energy efficiency and generate real gains that take into account people’s safety and well-being.

Crisis management processes within nations, regions, organizations or companies begin even before the arise of events that threaten to harm the organization, its stakeholders or the general customer. In order to manage a crisis like the one we are seeing today, where the situation changes by the hour, organizations must proceed to take rapid decisions to respond to altered requirements in the economic landscape, limitations in the supply chain, imposed social distancing and consequent impact on work and social interactions.

Times like these especially tune the focus on communications and the role played by new technologies. We have recently witnessed breakdowns in network services due to the existing spectrum bands becoming congested, but an increase in demand for 5G features has also been registered where these are available, and the market excitement is likely to continue.[1] As explained by Aldo Bisio, CEO of Vodafone’s Italian branch, the fifth-generation networks open “a new era of services for the digital development of the country”, describing 5G not only as an opportunity, but “above all a necessity”.[2]

5G will not only offer better and faster communication and services thanks to its higher speed and lower latency, but it will also allow us to help businesses innovate their offerings. A few months ago, Capgemini itself entered a global partnership with Ericsson, a global leader in private network solutions, managed services and consulting. Telia also joined forces with Capgemini and Ericsson to gain a better understanding of these opportunities and address them together. In its turnkey role of industry digitalization advisor and system integrator, Capgemini is now developing strategic frameworks to help multiple verticals generate top line revenue and efficiencies leveraging fast-growing private 5G mobile networks.

This new generation cellular wireless has undoubtedly promoted remote collaboration in various industries such as medical care, education, new media, industrial manufacturing, logistics and security. Where speed ​​and latency define the reactivity of the networks, 5G latency reduces response times, enabling real-time actions without disruption. More recently, we have indeed observed numerous cross-industry partnerships with Telcos and suppliers of network equipment and software amongst others, to deploy innovative applications powered by 5G through the extension of high-video conferencing services to emergency hospitals, 5G remote support, mobile diagnosis, evaluation services and more.

Many of these instant, interactive experiences are powered by AI, robotics, and other application technologies that are integrated into the 5G network. This has recently led to a decrease in manual work as well as illness threats and associated healthcare expenses, while schools and educational organizations that are well prepared for 5G have managed to deliver educational resources and classrooms online without disruption.

5G will not simply be a wireless system upgrade: today it represents a future-proof platform for limitless opportunities that will significantly change people’s lives and companies’ business models. Just like every other industrial revolution that deeply altered the economic structure of nations and the way in which people perform their work, the arrival of 5G could transform society as we know it. In the next future 5G will power efficient communication among sensors and devices. From vehicle to vehicle communication to reducing risk in hazardous environments by enabling remote control of heavy machinery, it could ultimately save many lives. Cities and municipalities will operate more efficiently by tracking utility usage remotely, public safety and infrastructure breakdowns. It could also fundamentally change the care journey of patients and the ecosystem around them.

All these possibilities stemming from the evolution of telecommunications with 5G and the application of robotics and Artificial Intelligence have one thing in common: they allow for personalized policies based on proactive prevention. Telcos are compelled to support new types of services powered by 5G, especially for emergency response, whilst the traditional ecosystem is being disrupted in favor of a more solid collaboration with governments and regulators, with the ultimate goal of providing a comprehensive digital marketplace to consumers, governments, enterprises and wholesalers.

The pace of 5G deployment will hence continue to accelerate, just like it happened with previous cellular generations. Capgemini can on the one hand help clients re-invent their business models and value propositions in the general effort to cover a wider scope of use cases and, on the other, fill the wide gap between tech vendors and Telcos that struggle to extract value out of services.

Industries now are especially looking for recommendations and new standards to address emerging issues, including:

  • the impact of 5G adoption on their business models: leaders will be asked for solid business cases that shed further light on returns on investment, covering assets’ monetization, premium 5G pricing and new billing relationships with 3rd parties customer bases, re-designed customer experiences and all of the potential strategic partnerships that would bring further value to the existing customer base;
  • the connectivity roadmap best suited for their digital transformation roadmap: in order to build connectivity platforms open to third parties and successfully transition to a 5G service-oriented core network, new standard targets in latency, bandwidth and connection density must be met, new and enhanced automation and network orchestration capabilities are needed, and so is working around patchy connectivity in certain areas with limited building penetration.

First and foremost, clients across almost all sectors will have to understand the real value of the services enabled by 5G, amongst all the differentiation on the devices and business services side, by looking inwards and outwards to fill skill gaps. In the upcoming blog posts I’m going to delve deeper into the social benefits, business potential and new competencies linked with 5G – stay tuned!

[1] 5G, già 13 milioni di abbonamenti: +50% di traffico dati, CorCom, March 2020.
[2] Vodafone dà il via al 5G, l’internet super veloce partirà in 5 città, La Stampa, June 2019.

The article was drafted by Alessandro PugliaSara Ciccardi and Francesca Meliffi.