2020 saw significant progress made towards the roll out and deployment of 5G NSA. Operators are finally switching on their 5G networks and excitedly looking forward to making a return on their investment. But 5G revenue won’t just fall out of the sky. Operators will need to work for it, and working for it will mean being able to monetise the deluge of data that will come with 5G. That data will be generated across all parts of the network—from the core, all the way to the edge.
To maximise their chances of success, there are four key factors operators must consider to ensure they are ready to take ownership and capitalise on the data deluge that 5G is set to bring about.
1. There’s gold in 5G use cases
The arrival of 5G has focused everyone on one thing: data. And while there have been disagreements about roll-out strategies and business models, one point that isn’t of contention across the industry is that 5G will bring more data than operators will have ever seen before. Despite presenting a new, daunting challenge for operators, it also presents a wealth of opportunities. The industry has been abuzz with hopes and dreams of new 5G use cases, and no vertical has been left untouched. So far, the industry has envisioned and predicted everything from augmented reality sports, autonomous 5G electric vehicles, and connected robots and sensors on a factory floor, all the way to remote surgery conducted over 5G. All of these use cases are different, but they have one thing in common: data.
In order for operators to be make the most of these new use cases, they must be able to control and manage all of this subscriber data to help them better understand how subscribers and applications use the network. In a 5G cloud-native environment, this processing of data must happen in real-time to deliver concrete value from the data. That means processing billions of data events per second. The end result will see operators open up and create new lucrative business models, using insights pulled from this end-to-end 5G network data.
2. Data for assurance
One area where end-to-end operator-led data management can be particularly beneficial is service assurance. Service assurance is crucial to helping operators understand how their network is behaving—in today’s increasingly demanding customer experience-led world, even slight degradations in service can have significant repercussions on customer satisfaction. This becomes all the more important in a 5G world when we think about the different use cases that are reliant upon high availability and ultra-low latency.
Take autonomous cars for example, it is critical that if a vehicle detects danger, it is able to stop quickly, without lags in connectivity preventing it from doing so. In fact, delays in data getting from one point to the other could be the difference between life or death. Operators taking control of the data, end-to-end, can play a pivotal role in assuring the expected Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS) for autonomous vehicle passengers. Doing so means they are able to take a holistic view of all services related to the autonomous vehicle as they traverse the network, replicating key measurements from the perspective of the end customer. In having this full control, they are able to continuously analyse the service and compare it to expected SLAs and thresholds to ensure optimum performance.
3. Data for monetisation
Another area where data management can prove to be a boon for operators is monetisation. With so much pressure to monetise their 5G investment, it’s critical that operators are able to turn data into dollar signs. Data can tell operators a great deal about their subscribers and it can prove to be extremely important when upselling or cross-selling new services. For example, geo-locational data can be particularly powerful when trying to drive footfall to make instore purchases based on a user’s close proximity to a retail outlet.
Going further, data insights can help to build predictive models based on different types of customer information—age, gender, handset type, and more. This helps operators to develop cross-selling offers that are more targeted and personalised to individual subscribers. This bespoke approach not only maximises the chance of a sale—as offers sent to subscribers are more relevant and therefore more likely to be received well—but it also increases customer loyalty and affinity with the operator brand, increasing stickiness and reducing the likelihood of churn.
4. Facing the data deluge
5G presents many exciting opportunities for operators—there’s no doubt about it. End-to-end data management will be a key part of turning these opportunities into reality and operators are perfectly placed to be the enablers. But they can’t do that without having the right tools in place; that is, microservices-based cloud-based event processing at scale, in real time to deliver real value from data. This will give them the agility they need to cope with an ever-evolving 5G network, allowing them to continuously deliver insights and drive innovation for their subscribers.
The tools are there, now it’s up to operators to put them in place to ensure they are ready to face the 5G data deluge.