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The latest data from Ericsson notes that global 5G subscriptions exceeded 1 billion at the end of 2022 and are expected to surpass the 5 billion mark by 2028. 5G has become a global phenomenon as the fifth generation cellular networks now exist in over 2400 cities. Its high speed, high bandwidth, low latency and reliability promise to drive several new use cases in both consumer and enterprise segments that were previously not possible with 4G. The diversification of use cases and a push into the enterprise segment offer new revenue streams for telecommunications companies to develop. This will lead to the development of further business models such as B2B2X.

Globally, 5G subscriptions have surged. The latest data from Ericsson notes that global 5G subscriptions exceeded 1 billion at the end of 2022 and are expected to surpass the 5 billion mark by 2028. At the same time, FWA connections will reach 300 million, of which 5G will account for almost 80% of the connections.

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According to Ericsson, the consumer segment is a dominant revenue stream for telecom operators. 5G drives monetization opportunities in consumer areas such as mobile gaming, fixed wireless access (FWA) and new immersive user experiences.

Source: Ericsson Mobility Report 2022 (November edition).
According to a survey by Finnish Nokia and research agency Omdia, telcos can commercialize 5G through different categories of use cases such as FWA, video surveillance and analytics, immersive experiences (augmented and virtual reality), smart stadiums, cloud robotics and automation. Remote control of machines (drones, cranes, robotic arms and heavy machinery), connected vehicles and eHealth.

Top 5G use cases worldwide, according to Ericsson and Nokia

Immersive Experiences (augmented and virtual reality): With 5G, computing and processing can take place at the edge—rather than on the device itself. This allows consumers to stream AR and VR content to wireless headsets. In addition, the streaming experience can be enhanced with haptic feedback, spatial audio, and multiple users participating in the same stream in the same location.

5G-Powered Stadium: Stadium-goers can wear VR devices with 5G-connected streaming to enjoy an immersive experience even when seated far from the stage. Streaming can be enhanced with 4K or 8K resolution cameras with 360 degree videography capabilities to stream the action in real-time.

Professional video content production in the field: 5G will improve live broadcast or remote streaming and media video production. According to Ericsson, it is seen as a potential early use case for network slicing. It will allow broadcasters of all sizes to transmit live content from far away locations with guaranteed high-speed uplink.

“We believe that 5G standalone (SA) with slicing will have superior cost and performance qualities compared to other alternatives such as satellite, bundled 4G or 5G non-standalone,” says Ericsson.

Smart Factory: 5G is expected to bring great benefits to industry, especially in manufacturing. Deployment of 5G technology will enable reliable connectivity between man, machine and devices working on factory floors; provide real-time insights; Power monitoring and management support and more.

Connected Cars: 5G and edge computing will enable telecom operators and content providers to enhance the infotainment ecosystem of future cars. For example, the infotainment systems can stream high-definition video for entertainment and education on the go; Stream cloud-based games and also allow web browsing.

Telecoms collaboration with automakers and ecosystem partners may lead to the emergence of Vehicle-to-Everything (5G C-V2X) applications, including real-time situational awareness and HD maps; seamless over-the-air (OTA) software updates; Cooperation with other vehicles in emergency situations and others.

Fixed Wireless Access: 5G FWA is being touted as one of the first cases in several regions including India to provide connectivity in remote and rural regions and bridge the digital divide. It is also said that the fixed wireless access service could allow telecom companies to tap into more retail and enterprise customers and drive revenue growth of home and small and medium-sized business (SMEs) users.

Source: Ericsson Mobility Report 2022 (November edition).
Source: Nokia and Omdia joint study.
eHealth: Thanks to 5G, newer and improved health services can also be made available in rural and remote areas, while connected ambulances can support medical staff to treat patients on the go and hospitals can prepare for their arrival. HD video can be used for telemedicine and teleconsultation between patients (in nursing homes) and doctors, reducing the need for travel. Private 5G-powered robots and automation can help guide patients around the premises. Remote diagnostics and remote operations will also be possible.

Cloud robotics: Nokia believes that by leveraging edge clouds, robots “can be controlled and reprogrammed to help in a variety of scenarios,” from hospitals to factories. In the future, robots can also be less complex because the processing takes place outside.

With the time-critical networking of 5G, combined with the intelligence in the edge cloud, robots are becoming increasingly autonomous. This in turn makes robots better suited for repetitive and dangerous tasks where human intervention may not be feasible.

Source: Nokia and Omdia joint study.
To capture the potential market of 5G, telecoms must take a step-by-step approach, starting with services that naturally arise from their 4G deals and building sustainable partnerships as they move forward, according to the previously cited Nokia-Omdia study. It suggests that selling 5G solutions will require a new approach from telcos that focuses less on the technology and more on the business needs their technology can meet.

“By becoming ‘problem solvers’ for their customers, 5G CSPs will increase their perceived (and real) value and open up the business opportunities,” it says.

Published April 29, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. IST Most Read in Industry

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