5G Maturity Model: If 5G is a Race, How should we Measure it?
It has become a cliché to say that mobile has transformed every industry. While the industry was born back in the seventies, it wasn’t until 4G and LTE came along that mobile really started to intersect with the larger global economics. The high-speed broadband capability has its obvious advantages of connecting people and things with information at rapid speed. Not only were the existing industries impacted, but we also started to create some new ones like rideshare that totally upended the transportation sector or mobile video advertising that reshaped not only traditional advertising but also digital advertising. Governments started to realize the importance of a healthy and robust mobile ecosystem for their respective countries. US clearly led the way for the last decade and the economic activity that mushroomed from it has been unprecedented. The likes of Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, and Uber have thrived in this environment. China found its voice on the global stage with the advent of Alibaba, Tencent, Xiaomi, Huawei, and Baidu. India’s commerce sector started to explode with Paytm, FlipKart, and Ola.
As we stand at the cusp of the 5G wireless network technology curve, the world is looking at the next disruptive cycle with nervous anticipation and heightened expectations. There is a general consensus amongst the governments that 5G is an important element of their economy roadmap so much so that they need to be active in shaping it. In fact, the media and the policy makers have christened the frenzy as “5G Race” and nobody wants to be left behind in this economy-defining disruptive cycle.
The global economy is complex and so is the mobile ecosystem as such the framework must reflect that. It must be a multi-dimensional model that takes a look at both the subjective and analytical metrics. The framework must look at structural, ecosystem, financial, and, operational metrics that can attempt to provide us a complete picture of the 5G progress in any given country especially as it relates to its peers. While there have been early attempts to “quantifying” the race, they have been primarily written to influence the regulators and government officials rather to provide an objective analysis. Others have been too narrow in their approach for the analysis to be meaningful.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss a first of its kind 5G Maturity Model and the variables that are important to the analysis. This model can not only provide adequate measurement insights but also give guidance to governments, operators, and the ecosystem as to where they stand relative to their peers. Given that we are still fairly early into the cycle, many of the variables don’t have adequate data, some can’t be reliably measured (in such cases we must rely on our subjective assessments), and we might be missing some variables because we don’t completely understand how 5G will shape the global economy. The goal of this exercise is to provide a living model that can be adjusted on an ongoing basis and provide input to strategists and policy makers around the world.
The paper looks at 25 different variables across five different dimensions for 16 major markets to get a sense of where countries are in their 5G journey. While the framework in this paper focuses on comparing nations on 5G maturity, the model can also be used to compare 5G maturity amongst the operators. The 5G Maturity Model is a living framework that can be updated and adapted on a regular basis as more data becomes available to get a sense of global 5G competitiveness at any given point in time.