Have operators become 5G ready since 2016?

Next-generation mobile technology has quickly become the most promising opportunity. Find out in our latest 5G Readiness Survey how operators are progressing on the road to 5G.

Have operators become 5G ready since 2016?

On October 12, we launched a new report on operator readiness for 5G, providing a global snapshot of where operators focus their 5G readiness efforts. Here we outline the major shifts on many parameters substantiating the rapid evolution in the market.

End user categories defining priorities

Of the respondents in the 2017 survey, we see a uniform focus on consumer, business users and specialized industry services. Specialized industry services get most attention, being the focus for 58 percent of respondents, closely followed by business users at 56 percent and consumers at 52 percent.

The picture in 2016 was quite different, with consumers dominating at 90 percent, and specialized industry services significantly behind at 24 percent.

The big swing in numbers is aligned with observations of the development in the market. In advanced markets with close to saturated mobile broadband, the focus is shifting to new market segments. The segments for business users and specialized industry verticals have a large untapped pool of rapidly developing micro segments. Finally, consumer mobile broadband is neither dead nor declining. But getting a boost with enhanced mobile broadband to remain the most significant fundamental business for operators.

Trials as an indicator for growing 5G readiness

In 2017, 78 percent of respondents said that they are in trials, compared with 32 percent in 2016. This is a sign that operators want to get a head start with hands-on activities to gain experience. The approach is based more on learning and less on planning in a dynamic market. And they are doing it on multiple fronts as industries as well as use cases, business models and deployment scenarios will evolve from what we have seen for 4G.

The steep increase in trial activities at this stage in the market is unique as standards are still in development. It signals a keen interest among operators to be ready – evolving at least as fast as the technology develops.

Nine network features get high attention as essential enablers

The 5G technology advancements have been ranked by operators, with multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) suggested by 82 percent of respondents. Operators also believed the device-to-device connection to be essential to 5G, ranking it second at 71 percent. There was a tie for third place between networked security, virtualized network functions and network slicing at 68 percent. Integrated RAN/backhaul, network automation, mobile edge/distributed core and beamforming make up the top nine essential features, getting 50 percent or more of the votes.

Summary

The results of the survey are impressive. Operator readiness has made a big leap forward since 2016. Trials play a crucial role in enabling 5G readiness and operators’ own insights into the 5G eco-system. Where networks are shaped by many new technology innovations. These are not all tied to 5G, but rather the exciting network evolution that both 4G and 5G are a part of.

5G webinar, report and podcast

Gain insights into leading operators' thoughts on the essential features of 5G and the opportunities they plan to pursue to monetize 5G in the on-demand version of our recent webinar.

In it, we explore the new editions of our 5G Readiness survey and the 5G Business Potential report.

And please listen to the latest "15 minutes with 5G" podcast called:  The Business Potential for 5G in Industry Digitalization


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Peter Linder
Peter Linder is responsible for 5G Customer Engagement Marketing in Market Area North America for Ericsson.
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