The entire telecom industry is buzzing around the potential of 5G and how its improved connectivity will improve lives and business operations. But while there’s excitement, there’s also pragmatism as operators assess what changes will need to take place to make 5G a reality.
Executives from Liberty Global, Telstra and Etisalat participated in “The Next Generation” panel on Day 3 of MWC Barcelona and explored the impact 5G will have.
Designed with the customer in mind
The panelists all agreed 5G has the potential to transform the customer experience, and media consumption is just one example. Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries explained that with more content being consumed, connectivity and convergence will become paramount. Fries pointed to the AT&T/Time Warner merger as an example of how content and connectivity are converging.
“Every operator is worried about the next generation of consumers,” said Fries. “Converged products are key.”
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn agreed.
“How we package the technology and solutions to customers is important,” said Penn.
Hatem Dowidar, CEO of Etisalat International, explained that his company wants to provide communication and entertainment with 5G, but stressed that connectivity should be the biggest focus.
“Closing the digital divide is more crucial than continuing to develop more technology,” said Dowidar.
What’s next in 5G tech
For 5G to function, more spectrum needs to be allocated. But before rushing to adopt 5G, operators should consider how they’re currently using their 4G networks.
“We need to find a balance between 5G and 4G and realize people in different countries have different needs,” said Dowidar.
According to Dowidar, over 90 percent of homes are connected in the United Arab Emirates but just 4 percent of homes are connected in Pakistan, so different types of connectivity are key.
“5G will help us where fixed networks are lacking to provide connectivity,” said Dowidar.
But 5G deployment costs needs to be balanced against current sales—according to Fries, 5G will be a $2.7 trillion network investment.
“Most operators in Europe are feeling nervous about capex,” said Fries. “Consumers want more for less…operators are in a tough spot.”
Penn concurred, saying that operators need to watch out before rushing into 5G.
“We need to make sure 5G is capitalized on correctly,” said Penn.
According to Penn, at Telstra, that involves building up “a lot of new skills” in the company.
With 5G deployment underway, operators will need to find a way to mange consumer expectations while managing costs.
To learn how CSG can help operators monetize 5G, download our datasheet here.
For more insights from MWC Barcelona, visit www.csgi.com/mwc19.