While Nokia sought to get in early and dominate the IoT space with its Smart Cities Playbook; Ericsson clearly fancies trumping its Scandinavian rival by nabbing 5G early. With that in mind, Ericsson quizzed 50 industry execs from 29 different operators around the world, and found out that everyone is active in the 5G space in one way or another. Either that or nobody had the balls to admit not doing anything so far.
If we were to extrapolate the findings out to the entire industry, two thirds of operators are either in the R&D phase or actual trials (34% and 32% respectively), while an additional 22% are in the initial planning stages.
It looks as though there is greater clarity in the development of specific use case strategies over the strategic vision for 5G business models or industry vertical applications; with more than half of the surveyed operators having a clear strategy in place. What would be of particular concern, however, is a significant percentage of respondents who are yet to begin formulating any form of 5G strategy whatsoever.
Those who are, however, are primarily focusing on the consumer segment for 5G – 90% in fact. That makes lot of sense, particularly when we consider the principal use cases being touted for 5G being include virtual reality (as well as VR gaming) and ultra-high definition video streaming. In Ericsson’s words, the view that the consumer is king still rules supreme.
“Where can revenue growth be found?” The report asks. “The vast majority agreed that to monetize 5G, operators need to provide industry-specific services (86%) and find new revenue-sharing models (86%). Topping the list of high-potential revenue growth areas are third-party collaboration (93%) and the Internet of Things (IoT) (93%), according to respondents.”
Presumably NTT DoCoMo is one of the operators cited in the report as being in the trialling phase, as the Japanese vendor is collaborating with Ericsson and Intel on developing a trial environment outside the lab. Work will begin in 2017 and is targeting use case applications and radio performance as key metrics.
As part of the trial, Ericsson will be providing the network systems including the 5G RAN (based on 28 GHz spectrum), baseband, vRAN (based on NFV) and the core networks. Intel, meanwhile, will be bringing its consumer-facing chipsets for end-user devices.
“This trial will represent an important milestone in 2017, paving the way for commercial 5G networks,” said Arun Bansal, Head of Business Unit Network Products and Ericsson. “It represents a unique opportunity to test real-life 5G performance in commercial conditions in the centre of Tokyo, enabling evaluation of consumer use cases and industry applications.”
Like it or not, tech leaders are forcing the rapid development of 5G – regardless of whether standards are ready to catch up. Oh, and if you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading about something other than what has just happened over in the USA.