Commercial 5G networks will illuminate a new generation of services and capabilities thanks to the investments and heavy lifting of communications service providers (CSPs). What’s uncertain is how bright a light will shine on the CSP’s bottom line. Fortunately for CSPs, unlike with 3G and 4G, this time around they are ideally positioned to play a more central role in the economic ecosystem — especially if they act now to corral partners and create a marketplace of 5G services.
Ultra-fast 5G networks will more than power new smartphone and communications features. They will unleash news ways to move, operate and live. A vast, new array of sensors and industrial Internet of Things (IoT) devices and solutions will proliferate across businesses, cities and environments of all types. Selecting the right solutions might be daunting for the uninclined buyer who has never before experienced the complex and rich capabilities of 5G.
This need to create market understanding and simplify the selection process sirens an opportunity for CSPs. They are ideally positioned to assemble 5G solution providers and their industry offers into a digital marketplace where enterprises, governments and other organizations can navigate through and select among the available technologies and services. To embrace the opportunity, many CSPs are now setting plans to pivot their model to play the role of a digital services provider (DSP) that sits at the center of this marketplace ecosystem (Figure 1). Offers presented through the marketplace will weave together the required devices, software, equipment, bandwidth and dynamic network slicing into complete solutions. Most notably, this digitally intelligent ecommerce platform also will help CSPs gain returns on their steep investments in equipment, spectrum, cells and services designed to meet 5G’s diverse and extreme requirements for latency, throughput, capacity and availability.