Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Alex Gledhill, Global Account Director, Intel UK, looks at how 5G could transform the commercial use of data.
The coming of 5G will prove transformative for global enterprise. Through 5G network adoption, long-awaited solutions to a range of shortcomings in key communications technologies will emerge. And the limitations of technology to contribute to business development and performance will be turned on its head. Reflecting this expectation, a recent telecoms report predicts that a third of mobile operators will deploy 5G standalone within two years. But significantly it also indicates that half of operators intend to migrate to a common data layer for their network functions as they roll out their 5G offering.
New data model
The adoption of a common data model by operators is indicative of where the fifth generation of wireless communications technologies will prove truly transformative. The unprecedented connectivity inherent in 5G will serve to generate, active and integrate business data to a previously impossible extent. This is apparent in the direction of travel for network architecture. The common data model will enable essential business data across areas including device engagement, network services, subscriptions and connectivity. It will also facilitate integration for data storage and access like never before. And this new data-driven model will represent an essential business enabler though access to new revenue streams across the telecoms space.
Next generation mobile
First generation mobile technology was all about connecting people but had little data-generating capability. This has transformed over the past decades with mobile technology evolving into a data conduit. The sector’s essential priorities have shifted to include the provision of a constant streams of diverse information and content to users. In turn, consumers themselves have become generators of unprecedented quantities and new forms of data. This dynamic is set to be supercharged across mobile with the rollout of 5G. As the promise of 5G takes hold, our customers are demanding the increased performance and flexibility they need to rapidly deliver services with lower latency where it is needed most. To help Intel has created a portfolio for 5G network infrastructure development, including critical components for early 5G network deployment, which are enabling businesses to future-proof their offering in the face of 5G-driven transformation. The resulting availability of enhanced mobile broadband (e-MBB) will be among the key results.
In this context, uptake use cases will include the harnessing of 5G’s ground-breaking connectivity to stream even higher quality video across expanding markets. And in terms of addressing the limitations of existing infrastructure technology, eMBB will expand service coverage across wide areas and address perennial problem points such as stadiums, housing complexes and shopping centres. And a direct implication of this infrastructure improvement will be a significant increase in the amounts of data used and generated by consumers. People will be empowered to generate and share whatever content they want, anywhere, and at any time.
The operational implications of this development will be seismic for mobile providers servicing the TikTok generation. Verizon, the US network provider and Intel partner, were early in recognising the transformative potential of 5G. The company is rapidly rolling out 5G Ultra-Wideband services in the US. It was first operator to offer Intel-enabled 5G home services and achieved a global industry-first with the 5G network edge computing. Directing the power of the cloud closer to mobile, Verizon is anticipating an array of new and previously unimagined use cases and connecting evermore devices at the edge of its Ultra-Wideband network.
For mobile operators and entrepreneurs across the telecoms space, the coming of 5G will bring a diverse range of operational improvements, which will serve to enhance their offering to customers. Such advancements will include faster network and data speeds, greater energy efficiency, lower latency, and increased bandwidths. In the broader sense, the improvements to network infrastructure will mean fundamental consumer behavioural change, with traditional broadband practices increasingly happening across mobile networks. Fundamental to this shift will be the capacity of 5G to significantly improve the efficiency of data transmission. Commercially, this will represent a game-changing advantage for operators. A more efficient network means cheaper by the bit data. And the passing of this benefit to consumers represent a new era of data-generated business opportunities and trends across multiple sectors.
Exploring the applications potential of 5G in entertainment, a report from Intel predicts a radical redefinition in business models and the emergence of multiple new immersive, interactive and data-generating customer experiences. For instance, 5G is predicted to generate more than $140 billion in revenue from augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) application between 2021 and 2028. And the data-generating potential from new use cases across this spectrum is multifaceted. In the case of AR, it will create a new way for consumers to connect with media through virtual tools, scenarios and characters. Users will also have unprecedented engagement with augmented contextual information. And AR well facilitate previously unimagined communications channels between content creators and their audiences. This amounts to a new 5G-powered data-generating enterprise paradigm.
Now commonly referred to as industry 4.0, this new business epoch will generate, and be fuelled by, previously unimaginable levels of smart data. In this context, 5G represents a virtual data network – enabling a fully connected and intelligent global society. Moreover, the essence of 5G is intelligent connectivity. And mobile networks in the coming decade will connect ever increasing number of smart devices – helping to make the much-mooted internet of things (IoT) a realised fact.
From 5G to the Edge
A business landscape redefined by 5G will present myriad opportunities for operators and enterprises across the telecoms space. And the integration accessible through supercharged connectivity will result in the most powerful unified communications platform seen to date. It will also supercharge the growing smart digital services space as digitised communications reach new sectors and markets.
Rakuten mobile, the Japanese operator and Intel partner, recognised the need for a fundamental redesign of its network platform in anticipation of the opportunities 5G will bring. This encompassed the development of fully virtualised end-to-end cloud network architecture. And with separate built in user and data planes, its network is now ready to embrace multiple new use cases – with further confidence drawn from the benefit of its future-proofed edge architecture. And through the adoption of Intel’s data centre processors for cross network functionality, Rakuten is guaranteed agility, efficiency, flexibility and capacity to pass cost benefits onto its customers in Japan.
As in the case of Rakuten, the capability of mobile operators and businesses to capitalise in this rapidly evolving world of 5G-powered smart data will ultimately depend on their ability to think ahead and adopt. The rates of adoption of a common data model by operators is encouraging in this regard. But in the wider sense, businesses will have to go further and faster to develop software-defined networks and cloud-based ecosystems for essential scalability and flexibility in the face of a 5G-driven data-defined world.