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Nine clusters to simplify the operator challenge in making the best use case choices for 5G

5G has quickly become top of mind for consumers and businesses alike as a network technology with the potential to improve a large variety of use cases. But with the large potential also comes the challenge for operators to choose which use cases will drive their initial investments. This blogpost is about a strategy designed to simplify the choice: a quest for easy that reduces 200 use cases down to just nine use case clusters as the basis for network planning.

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One use case challenge operators face today

During the last 18 months, Ericsson has done deep dives into the market potential for 5G based services. We evaluated the global 5G potential for 10 different industries on top of the natural evolution from mobile broadband for consumers to Enhanced Mobile broadband.

The combined insights from this work made one challenge stand out:

How do operators match the most attractive use cases with the right network coverage and capabilities?

Our studies analyzed around 400 potential use cases and found that around 200 use cases in 10 industries were enabled or enhanced by 5G, which creates a larger number of individual requirements to be placed on the network. Even for a small subset of the 200 use cases, the complexity surfaces. How do you create one network serving a spectrum of use cases with different go-to-market and deployment challenges?

The challenge for operators can be simplified if we could deal with groups of use cases that have similar go-to-market and deployment challenges for multiple use cases, with the goal to make use case planning manageable and tied to the right network characteristics, and the added benefit of creating use case synergies across industries.

Introduce use case clusters to simplify planning

new report from Ericsson outlines a new innovative approach, where use cases are grouped into use case clusters and a cluster contains use cases with similar go-to-market and deployment challenges.

The underlying network can be designed to support one, a few or all use case clusters. Operators can start with one or a few clusters and gradually build network coverage and capabilities over time. Such a strategy creates focus in addressing go-to-market and deployment challenges one cluster at a time, and creates potential for immediate business expansion within a cluster once the cluster model has been proven for the first use case.

The need to define unique business cases per use case remains, but becomes centered around business projections and ecosystem development on top of a clear capabilities per cluster once the go-to-market and deployment models have been vetted for the first use case in a cluster.

Examples of use case clusters

Based on the similarities between use cases we have found the following nine main clusters:

  1. Real-time automation
  2. Enhanced video services
  3. Monitoring and tracking
  4. Connected vehicle
  5. Hazard and maintenance sensing
  6. Smart surveillance
  7. Remote operations
  8. Autonomous robotics
  9. Augmented reality

These nine clusters cover 90 percent of the potential for the 200 investigated use cases. The business potential in each cluster is defined around three industries representing at least 70 percent of the potential in each cluster.

So, with the clear potential to define high-level network roadmaps one cluster at a time, what can be done now? What can be done on the way to 5G? With this in mind, we must still respect the ‘lag’ we can see before 5G has reached widespread network penetration. And finally, we must consider what will represent the full-blown 5G experience? And the network required to support full use case potential.

Great questions to ask to validate if you can benefit from a cluster-centric 5G strategy

The following questions can support you and your team to evaluate if use case clusters address your challenges:

  • How many use cases do you see as candidates for 5G proof of concept trials or commercial deployments 2018-2021?
  • Where do you see similarities and differences between go-to-market and deployment challenges for different use cases?
  • How have you grouped the use cases today to reach a manageable number?
  • How do you plan to expand into adjacent industries and use cases from your initial use case?
  • How much of your 5G business potential is concentrated to the 3 clusters you target first?

Thank you for engaging on use case clusters – you can read the full report to discover how use case clusters can support you on your journey to 5G. Be sure to contact me directly if you want a deeper dive on the subject.

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In a world that is increasingly complex, we are on a quest for easy. At the Ericsson blog, we provide insight, news and opinion to help make complex ideas on technology, business and innovation simple. If you want to hear from us directly, please head over to our contact page.

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