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5G standalone is a profitable innovation platform

Examples of differentiated service through 5G standalone and midband TDD deployment are appearing in advanced markets. At the same time, communications service providers (CSPs) struggle to find a killer application that may sustain the required investment.

But what if we look at 5G standalone as an enabler for operators’ platform economy? Service-based differentiation on top of 5G standalone is already happening, with examples spanning from priority passes to gaming, enterprise premium plans and industrial deployments.

Our study on market potential in a dense urban environment, having Madrid downtown as a showcase, demonstrates an attractive business case for CSP first movers.

5G Strategy and Innovation Director

5G Network Evolution Driver

5G Fixed Wireless Access driver

Analytics & New business models consultant lead

Network Evolution lead Europe and Latin America

5G standalone is a profitable innovation platform

5G Strategy and Innovation Director

5G Network Evolution Driver

5G Fixed Wireless Access driver

Analytics & New business models consultant lead

Network Evolution lead Europe and Latin America

5G Strategy and Innovation Director

Contributor (+4)

5G Network Evolution Driver

5G Fixed Wireless Access driver

Analytics & New business models consultant lead

Network Evolution lead Europe and Latin America

Premium services based on differentiated 5G connectivity

5G standalone is the gateway to new innovative services and solution; through 5G standalone capabilities, and other associated technologies, you can tailor a connectivity offer to better address the specific needs of consumers and enterprises. With this differentiated connectivity model, you can address specific use cases by programing network capabilities e2e.

Many CSPs are already on the journey to offer differentiated connectivity and new services based on 5G standalone are starting to make inroads in several advanced markets both for consumer and industrial use cases.

For example, Singtel in Singapore is offering its users a dedicated 5G slice to follow the GrandPrix in real-time and high definition in crowded areas during the race. In the UK, King Charles’s coronation ceremony has also been broadcasted with the help of a dedicated uplink slice. The service provider 3 in Hong Kong offers Uplink boost dedicated for influencers. In Taiwan, police patrol cars are connected to a 5G network slice to record in real-time road code infringements. In China, multiple industrial settings are connected with 5G SA and edge nodes to improve operational efficiency. In Spain, the port of Barcelona will be connected by 5G SA to enhance port operations.

No killer app in sight

At the same time many CSPs remain cautious with their investment in 5G standalone deployment, especially in the midband TDD – the frequency layer that enables superior performance – and most of them are holding back massive roll-out in quest of the killer application.

5G standalone as an innovation platform

But what if we change our mindset and instead of looking for a single killer application, we look at 5G standalone, powered by midband TDD as an innovation platform on which multiple services and business models can be realized? What if we concentrate our view on an urban setting to develop a full 5G zone? Would the story change?

To do that, we have taken a broader view and started exploring the different segments that could benefit from 5G standalone and midband TDD in an urban scenario.

In our study, we considered the following service categories.

Segment Solution Service Type Detail
B2C slice
  • Premium connectivity
  • Premium app - Gaming
  • Premium app - Video
  • Performance boost
  • Differentiated QoS across all traffic
  • Differentiated QoS for Cloud Gaming
  • Differentiated QoS for UHD streaming
  • Instant boost at Venues, Festivals, etc.
Enterprise slice
  • Premium Enterprise Connectivity
  • Differentiated QoS for enterprise applications
Enterprise slice
  • Telemedicine
  • Remote Banking
  • Tele-visits, remote monitoring
  • Secure mobile financial services
Industry & Government
Hybrid Private Network and Local Packet Gateway
  • Dedicated Mobile Connectivity with Local User Plane
  • Transport & Logistics
  • Education/University
  • Public Buildings
  • Hospitals

All the above services are boosted by the new 5G technology, which can enable a varied set of business models serving consumers, enterprises and the city infrastructure itself, boosting the city attractiveness, efficiency, innovation and sustainability.

What would be the return for a first-mover CSP to deploy such services?

Concretely exploring a 5G standalone zone: Madrid downtown

To answer this question, we examined a concrete case: Madrid downtown, within the limits of the M30 highway ring, home to a resident population of close to 1 million, a vibrant enterprise and touristic environment.

In essence, we have looked at the consumers’ needs in that area, at the existing facilities/infrastructures and at the venues/events happening there every year. and we have estimated the addressable user base for the different segment and subsegment categories, modeled a service uptake and the differential revenues CSPs can intercept on top of standard Mobile Broadband services.


Premium connectivity

135.9K Premium service consumers

Premium application

26.4K Cloud gamers users; 162.3K Premium TV subscribers

Instant purchase boost

333K attendants – 3 parades; 70.0K attendants – 1 stadium; 38.7K attendants – 2 concert venues; 25K attendants – Dcode Festival; 1.6K attendants – 3 areas summer events; 60.0K students – Campus Hotspot

B2B Enterprise

Enterprise Connectivity

5.6K enterprises - 522K employees



831K bank users


212K chronic patients

Industry & Government

Public buildings

4 museums; 12 Government buildings; 18 courts


17 hospitals

Transport & Logistics

1 warehouse; 2 railway stations; 6 transport hubs


2 university Campus

Based on the above modeling, the expected adoption curve and the pricing model, we have estimated Madrid downtown addressable revenue for CSPs that exceed 140 M€ for differentiated connectivity in the first 5 years after turning the territory into a full-fledged 5G standalone zone.

Total Cumulated revenue = 141.9 MEUR

  B2B - 18.8 MEUR

  B2B2C - 25.6 MEUR

  B2C - 43.1 MEUR

  Industry and Government - 54.4 MEUR

The revenue upside for a first mover

The first CSP to introduce the full fledged 5G standalone TDD services has an obvious advantage over the followers as they will be able to attract early adopters and most valuable customers. We have, therefore, modeled the addressable share of users and respective revenues a first mover would intercept.

First Mover advantage

Year Y1 Y2 Y3 Y4 Y5
Market Share of Net adds 100% 75% 50% 40% 40%

Cumulated subscribers by service type

Segment Service Y1 Y2 Y3 Y4 Y5
B2C Premium connectivity 27,170 38,618 47,127 53,233 64,101
B2C Premium video 16,226 27,573 36,782 42,834 49,324
B2C Real-time gaming 2,638 4,483 5,981 6,965 8,020
B2C Instant Boost 26,285 38,859 48,379 55,085 65,599
B2B enterprise Premium connectivity 26,143 44,425 59,262 69,013 79,470
B2B2C Secure banking 41,552 70,611 94,194 109,692 126,313
B2B2C Remote healthcare 1,547 2,708 4,255 6,731 11,683
Industry & Gov. City infrastructure 12 22 29 34 38

In the first 5 years, a first mover would be able to intercept differential revenues in excess of 100 M€ across the B2C, B2B, B2B2C and city infrastructure domains.

5 Year Cumulated Revenues (MEUR)

When considering only the B2C component this would result in an ARPU increase in the range of 12-15%.

Consumer ARPU report


Looks attractive, isn’t it? But at what cost?

Modeling the differential cost

In order to assess the cost, we evaluated following network components:

  • Radio, site and transport costs
  • 5G standalone core network
  • Orchestration solution to enable network slicing at scale
  • Local packet gateways to support city infrastructure use case

To model the delta capacity needed at radio and core network level, we developed a traffic model coherent with the expected service uptake.

2024 Daily Additional Traffic Profile [Gbps]

On top of that, we considered other costs that a CSP would incur to sell, support and lifecycle manage the services. These include Selling, General and Administrative, Marketing and Operational Sales, In-house operational costs, IT and support costs.

Selling, General and Administration (SG&A)

6,5% of Revenues It includes common costs for selling, customer service, administration, etc.
Marketing and Operational Sales

15% of Revenues It includes marketing and sales of specific service offerings.
Network Operations- CSP direct costs

7% of Revenues (as a portion of 16% Network Opex that include vendor costs) It includes people in network ops and NOC costs.
IT and Support Costs

5% of Revenues It includes costs for implemented changed in the BSS and OSS layer.

An attractive business case

We than elaborated the overall business case for CSP first mover: > 100 MEUR revenues upside, payback time of 2.5 years and 13MEUR Net Present Value.

> 100 MEUR revenues upside, payback time of 2.5 years and 13.6MEUR Net Present Value

5G SA Urban deployment – Operator’s benefit

Incremental Revenues >100MEUR
Incremental Consumer ARPU ≈2.6EUR
EBIT margin +33%
ROI 1.48 X
Payback 2.5Y

Note - ROI (calculated as total EBIT/total CAPEX)

On top of the very interesting business cases, deploying the full fledged 5G standalone on TDD will uncover other opportunities, such as the possibility of introducing new services, and extending the value chain beyond the connectivity, by providing platforms and applications and extending the model to other urban areas in the country.

The journey to differentiated connectivity has started, and the advantages for those who will move first are clear!

Read more

5G standalone business opportunities in urban environments

5G standalone

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