Leading UK telecoms analyst, Catherine Haslam, summed up some of the feelings I've picked up on in a recent article on 5G. While the large telecoms infrastructure vendors (Nokia, Ericsson) have 5G commercial contracts starting later this year, they relate to simpler use cases of enhanced mobile broadband and fixed wireless access.
In Catherine’s view, representatives from the likes of Bosch and Toyota have exciting ideas but they’re based on, “A high speed, ultra-low latency, low power, secure, reliable and flexible network. One that can be infinitely and dynamically sliced up, all backed by enforceable SLAs, controlled by them and delivered at a cost substantially lower than their current networks provide.”
Unfortunately though, in her view, the communication service providers aren’t really close to being ready to deliver such services on a commercial basis just yet.
Still, the first three of these requirements can be met.
“5G new radio delivers them all and there is potential for the cost disruption as Ericsson claims that 5G spectral, radio and core efficiency drives costs to the operator down to 10% of the equivalent cost per byte for 4G.” She adds, “This is the 5G that will be deployed towards the end of 2018 and the achievement should not be underestimated. However, it is not enough to release the potential for the new revenue streams associated with the massive machine and mission-critical use cases.”
Catherine disclosed that an industry leader listed the following as his expectations for 5G enabled smart factories: “Sub-slices that the client not the network operator controls, the ability to ramp up and tear down slices in less than 10 minutes, services that work across network and country borders, interconnection and security over that interconnection and low latency.”
“For example, he wants to be able to remotely operate production machines in China from headquarters in Germany. A simple request but one that is beset with technical issues and complexity as the remote-control device includes an emergency stop button. That means local edge intelligent control as well as central control and it means complicated and dynamic orchestration.”
There is no doubt that 5G has potential to create much-needed new revenue streams for communication service providers but to unlock them, they will have to do much more than deploy and release. They need to create entirely new network topologies, put orchestration at the heart of their network development and build a new generation of IT to deliver the network management and operational and business support services will turn technology into services and revenue. 5G has started but it has a long way to go.