Unlocking the value of 5G through differentiation and premium experiences
Many of us know the feeling – after a long week, it’s finally Friday and no one feels like cooking. Everyone wants pizza, but not just any old supermarket pizza – if you’re going to spend the money, you want the best, most authentic Italian pizza you can get, and you’re prepared to pay a little bit extra for it.
That’s the thing with premium experiences – as consumers, we’re often prepared to give that little bit extra for something that’s an awful lot better. Together with our customers, collaborators, and technology partners, we must be aware of that – that’s why the best pizza restaurants use only the finest flour, the ripest tomatoes, and the best toppings, all baked in a wood-burning oven that gives that authentic Italian taste.
And while we’re waiting in anticipation for this experience, we might spend a few minutes watching a high-definition video or playing a cloud-based game – it’s all part of the differentiated service that makes 5G such a compelling service for end users.
But how do we ensure that we meet their expectations not just some of the time, but every time? How do we divide them up into segments to deliver an experience that exceeds their expectations and keeps them coming back for more?
Like the artisan pizza baker who takes his inspiration from Italy, we must go that little bit further, but in the end, it’s very much worth it.
So how do we capture the value of 5G using service differentiation to offer premium experiences?
Paths to Premium Experiences
Of all the ways that this can be done, a few are notably prominent, and one of them has already been alluded to above – Ericsson Time-Critical Communications.
The advent of 5G has meant even lower latencies, bringing us closer and closer to the kind of real-time gaming and entertainment experiences that we could previously only enjoy via wired broadband services at home.
Imagine playing a game on your phone while you’re waiting for your order - at the moment, such games are, for the most part, scaled-down versions of the ones we know from gaming consoles, and they are stored locally on your phone. Even if they have networked elements (such as the possibility of playing against others online), they often offer an experience that is less than that one could expect when playing on a console.
The speeds offered by the latest 5G technologies for time-critical communications change all that – instead of being stored locally, the games of the future can be stored in the cloud, offering the full range of features and playability found on console versions without any compromise, as well as the opportunity to play against any other player in the ecosystem, regardless of what device they are using to play.
This possibility also offers a way into the sometimes-difficult subject of monetizing 5G – gamers have become used to in-game purchases for some time, and there are strong indications that they would also be prepared to pay a premium if they can take the full experience, they enjoy at home with them on their mobile device.
The possibilities don’t stop there – at Mobile World Congress 2023, Ericsson demonstrated extended-reality (XR) gaming over 5G, and there was also a glimpse of how time-critical communications can assist with remote control and teleoperated driving in industrial settings.
By implementing the Ericsson toolkit and differentiating the 5G connectivity we offer, we can offer more ways to meet the need for faster upload or download speeds or a more responsive network to facilitate their premium experience, and this in turn opens new revenue streams.
In the 2023 Ericsson ConsumerLab report, smartphone users between the ages of 15 and 69 said that they would be prepared to pay a premium of 11 percent for quality of service (QoS)-led offerings.
Slicing the network for streaming media
Another area that is ripe for premium 5G experiences is streaming media in all its forms, and some major media producers are already getting on board.
Take for instance news media production – we can all remember the first iconic images being broadcast around the world from major news events, and in the past, they were beamed from the location back to the broadcaster via satellite.
The data flows and traffic enabled by 5G mean that we no longer have to send these signals into space and back down to earth; instead, 5G networks can be used to both send to the news desks of the world and then broadcast the results to the mobile devices of those who wish to keep up with events.
This kind of workflow is already in operation in several locations, with operators such as T-Mobile Deutsche Telekom and a few others already offering specific slicing solutions for live media production. One of the most successful examples occurred back in May 2023 when Vodafone and British broadcaster ITN combined to broadcast the coronation of King Charles using a public 5G standalone network and network slicing.
Differentiated tools of the trade
In the realm of capacity and speed, our advanced software algorithms for Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) are leading the way. Take the example of the algorithm used to optimize beamforming in high-interference scenarios based on overlapping coverage, which is often necessary when loads are high. This algorithmic enhancement is particularly effective in mid-band deployments, where it can result in an increase in user throughput of up to 10 percent during high load. Not only does it improve the user experience, it also allows for a smoother introduction of new services that require high reliability and low latency.
Next, we delve into the advancements in Radio Access Network (RAN) slicing. This technology allows for the creation of multiple virtual networks on top of a common shared physical infrastructure. We’ve introduced intent-based automation for Automated Radio Resource Partitioning and Rate and Delay Control Scheduling. These advancements enable target delivery on a one millisecond (ms) basis, a critical requirement for many emerging 5G applications. This ensures efficient service-level agreement (SLA) fulfillment through real-time automation, providing a more reliable and consistent user experience.
We then turn our attention to the improved consistent low-latency capabilities. Low latency is crucial for many of the most exciting applications of 5G, from autonomous vehicles to virtual reality. Our Time-Critical Communication capabilities have been improved to provide consistent low latency. With Uplink Configured Grant and L4S (Low Latency, Low Loss, Scalable Throughput), we can ensure a superior quality of experience, even during network congestion and under poor radio conditions. This results in a latency improvement of up to 90 ms in high-load scenarios.
Then it’s at the fingertips of the end user where we explore the Data Boost Upsell and E2E L4S Support in our 5G Core. Recognizing the need for users to have a better premium experience than their current plan provides, we now allow users to purchase a boost on top of their existing subscription through device notifications. This not only provides users with the flexibility they need but also opens up a new revenue stream for service providers.
So why do we need a new software toolkit? Because premium performance is emerging as a valuable parameter that can be layered onto existing offerings. This not only enhances the baseline data connectivity but also opens up a new customer segment for Communication Service Providers (CSPs). By selling premium connectivity APIs to application developers or end-users, CSPs can facilitate an improved app experience for their customers. This strategy effectively broadens the market reach of CSPs, while simultaneously enriching the user experience with superior connectivity.
A world of premium possibilities
The world of mobile telecommunication is changing more rapidly than at any time in history and demands for more refinement and tailoring to the needs of the end user are growing.
As with mobile devices themselves, some users will be happy with basic devices and connectivity that make their daily life easier, but many more will be prepared to pay extra for a premium experience, whether that be when playing games, conducting a video conference, or watching media streamed live to their device.
Meeting the needs of those customers requires us to listen, and to collaborate to ensure that we do all we can to deliver on that need.
Ericsson has long collaborated with operators, manufacturers, and the providers of a wide range of different online services across the ecosystem to create solutions that delight subscribers and that they will be prepared to pay a premium for, and our 5G offering is the latest in a long line of innovations with this goal in mind.
When dealing with us they can be assured that we are working not just to find the best available solution for today, but to identify and fulfill the premium needs of the customers of tomorrow too.
And like your Friday night pizza with the family, the promise of that premium experience is one tasty prospect.
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