Realizing the 5G Promise

This research was supported by Collinear Networks

Access to high-speed mobile broadband is on the agenda of every government, regulator, and operator around the globe. Basic connectivity has gone from luxury to novelty to an essential tool for prosperity and growth; from gadget of the rich and famous to a device that has become the source of livelihood of millions across the planet. Connectivity’s role to human progress has been well studied over the last decade. There is a direct correlation of broadband penetration to the increase in GDP. Connectivity has fundamentally changed industries and reshaped national economies. Of course, the advanced markets like Japan, Finland, US, Korea and others have been at the forefront of connecting their citizens with broadband; the progress in the developing markets is much more pronounced. Large nations like China and India have amassed a billion connected consumers who have the power to innovate, do commerce, voice their opinions, and much more. Even smaller nations like Fiji, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and others have made enormous strides. Many of the countries have more connected devices than people.

After a very successful technology cycle of 4G, industry is setting its sight on 5G that is likely to usher in a new set of capabilities that will create new ecosystems, billion-dollar startups, high-paying jobs, and bring about substantial change in the global economy. However, unlike previous cycles, operators face significant financial pressures to build an economically sound business plan. While the features of Gbps, ms latency, dense urban deployments of IoT, better security frameworks, and high resiliency are all great goals to have for the 5G service, the variable that will eventually determine the pace of 5G deployment is likely to be bit and infrastructure economics – how cheaply an operator can transmit a bit from point A to point B as well as launch new services. Furthermore, how the operators and the ecosystem leverage these new-found superpowers in 5G for new services and applications will shape the growth trends. Additionally, time to market will remain a driving factor for market competitiveness.

To truly realize the potential of 5G, new techniques and methodologies are needed to deal with the continued growth of data traffic that is unlikely to slow down for the foreseeable future. One must take a systems approach to manage the diverse requirements and driving down the costs – frontend, backend, flattened architecture that takes advantage of new technologies such as SDN, NFV, AI, Blockchain, FSO, Edge & Fog Computing, and more. The paper will delve into the driving forces of 5G Economics and discuss what will it take to realize the 5G promise over the next decade.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • The 5G Promise
  • 5G – A New Ecosystem, New Possibilities
  • Satisfying the Insatiable Data Demand
  • 5G – It is all about Data Economics
  • 5G Network Economics – A System’s View
  • 5G – Developed vs. Emerging Markets
  • The Start of the Edge Computing Wave
  • Competing on Speed, Competing on Price, Competing on Services
  • Conclusions