Mobile network operators (MNOs) are investing billions in 5G infrastructure but are they failing to maximise the monetisation opportunities by applying traditional telecoms business models to this new era, asks TechTrends managing editor George Malim?
Many mobile operators are still trying to digest their over-investment in 3G technologies caused by a frantic race to secure spectrum and the belief that, if you built a network, users would come.
The ‘build it and they will come’ strategy ran out of road more than 15 years ago as 3G networks became a technology in search of a reason to exist. However, reasons soon emerged and the 4G age has proved to have a multitude of higher bandwidth services that rely on the spectrum acquired for 3G and utilise 3G as a fallback when there is no 4G. Don’t forget, among all the 3G excitement, that this still happens frequently and parts of the world still await 4G.
Today doesn’t really resemble the early noughties when users simply weren’t ready to do more than telephony, messaging and unconnected games on their mobiles. Now, people expect rich, high speed, low latency experiences and it’s no longer just about people. The machines are here too, demanding cellular networks enable connection of the prosaic and the complex.
Mobile operators have customers lining up for 5G to enable services from IoT to augmented reality. The versatility of 5G supports enormous device density per cell, huge throughput and ultra-low latency. These attributes singly or together open up a raft of opportunities but mobile operators know that they can’t address these with precision by applying traditional telecoms models such as charging per-minute or megabyte of network utilisation.