Contributed by Marcin Nowak, Senior Solutions Manager, Comarch.
The global rollout of 5G networks represents a true revolution in telecommunications technology. Operators have invested heavily in upgrading and replacing physical and virtual elements of their networks – so the big question for them is how to monetize 5G and maximize the return on their investment.
Without a doubt, network slicing will be at the center of 5G monetization efforts. In fact, almost all operators (95%) believe that the broader concept of network as a service (NaaS), encompassing network slicing, will drive 5G monetization. If they are to take the full benefits of NaaS, telcos will need to focus strongly on automation driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in key areas.
This will mostly impact network maintenance and management processes, neither of which can be optimized in a 5G network without automation. Zero-touch AI/ML-driven network management means networks and network slices can be scaled to meet demand at any given time, without human intervention. In terms of automated 5G network maintenance, automating predictive, preventive and corrective processes means that the network can self-monitor, self-heal, and even predict potential issues – thus avoiding problems and ensuring a high level of customer service. What’s more the time and financial investment required to implement such a solution do not need to be high.
Another area in which telecommunications network operators can monetize 5G deployment and see a return on their investments involves the Internet of Things (IoT), in the business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) fields. We are already familiar with IoT-enabled services such as smart homes, factories and cities – not to mention driverless cars and e-health services – but this is just the start. In each of these areas, technology is expected to continue evolving at an increasingly rapid pace, and we can also expect new 5G/IoT use cases to emerge in the near future, which will present yet more monetization opportunities for telcos in B2B and B2C.
With technological advances happening so quickly, it’s difficult to predict what is just over the horizon. In this respect, operators need to ensure their 5G networks are future-proof, so they are ready to take advantage of new opportunities as they develop. Those who are not at least planning a strategy along these lines risk being left behind.
For more on these subjects and others related to monetizing and preparing for 5G services, see the four-episode “Telecoms Journey Towards 5G Monetization” campaign from Comarch.
Marcin is a panelist at FutureNet Middle East & Africa on the 26th of January. CSPs register free here.