As the new government in India has come to power under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, significant and history etching events are bound to happen. And the launch of 5G in India is one among those significant events. The year 2019-2020 could see the launch of commercially-ready 5G networks.
Although, 5G can transform the digital lives by many folds, its launch involves several complexities like making the right investments and capitalizing on them. Any guidance on how to go about 5G becomes valuable. Aditya Chaudhuri, Managing Director and Lead – Communications, Media & Technology, Accenture India, offered his guidance on 5G and its deployment approaches through an interaction with VoicenData. Few excerpts:
VoicenData: As 2019 makes way for innovative technologies, what is the promise that 5G holds?
Aditya Chaudhuri: The launch of commercially-ready 5G networks will herald a new era in connectivity with new capabilities and efficiencies. 5G is much more than just a generational next step and upgrade on the backend. It brings an immense transformational leap for mobile technology, allowing massive machine communications across billions of devices.
5G has the potential to increase bandwidth needed to handle the ever-expanding IoT ecosystem.
5G is expected to deliver an increasingly integrated mobile, video experience and spur further developments and scale in Internet of Things (IoT). Delivering reduced network latency, 5G has the potential to increase bandwidth needed to handle the ever-expanding IoT ecosystem and accelerate the speeds and services needed for rich data applications, such as faster video streaming, virtual reality gaming, connected home applications and more efficient and secure self-driving cars.
It will also support growth in Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), industrial automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI). 5G will be highly beneficial for industrial use cases where AR based applications will require high data rates and low latency. We will see use cases ranging from smart cities, to robotics, immersive education, autonomous driving, and more. With 5G, we will see use cases that no one has even imagined yet.
VoicenData: What are the key factors for successful adoption and commercialization of 5G?
Aditya Chaudhuri: The key ingredients for successful adoption and commercialization of 5G include effective use cases development, affordable devices and products, ecosystem partnerships and compliance to Quality of Service (QoS), safety and privacy requirements. Some of the key factors to consider include:
Revenue generating use cases: High-speed data connectivity opens new opportunities in areas of IoT, AR, VR, and other digital technologies. These opportunities require investments in spectrum, network, IT systems. Due to financial stress, telcos are bound to take a hard look at investments. Hence, identification of uses cases and its commercial potential in full-blown deployment are critical for making investments in 5G. Telcos can jointly build and collaborate with each other to minimize capex requirements for rendering high QoS.
Due to financial stress, telcos are bound to take a hard look at investments. Hence, identification of uses cases and its commercial potential in full-blown deployment are critical for making investments in 5G.
Drive ecosystem: According to our global study, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of executives said they need help to imagine the future possibilities and use cases of 5G, and telecommunications companies are one of the leading service providers that executives plan to partner with on their 5G journeys, cited by 40 percent of respondents. For successful monetization of 5G investments, robust and integrated use-cases are essential. Telcom operators with valuable insight of users, the existing system of metering, billing, collections are uniquely positioned to lead all key stakeholders such as manufacturer, app vendor, connectivity provider, billing and collections agencies for 5G use cases. Telcos can take the lead to design solutions, drive ecosystem and make it a winning proposition for all stakeholders for an end to end delivery and customer experience.
Co-existence of current technologies with 5G: While pushing for 5G, telcos need not discard investments made in 2G, 3G, or 4G. Hence, network investments and capabilities need to be reviewed from the co-existence point of view. Holistic investments in the network can deliver a seamless customer experience with manageable complexities.
Preparing network as virtualized, programmable unit with slicing capability: Applications like the remote operation of machinery, telesurgery and smart metering all require connectivity, but with vastly different characteristics. New technologies such as virtualization, network programmability, and network slicing enable logical networks that are customized to meet the needs of each application. As a result, new products and services can be brought to market rapidly and be easily adapted to fast-changing demands.
To thrive in the 5G world, innovation and collaboration need to be embedded into the culture along with refreshing the technical skills.
Capitalize on shared value: Telcos can see significant savings in capital and operational expenses with the brokerage of network assets that stand-alone networks will not reap. For instance, in remote areas, telcos can use slicing to build their own virtual network on top of a shared infrastructure.
Re-skilling the workforce: 5G inherently pushes for open culture and more outward-looking mindset. The workforce will be required to make greater collaborative efforts with agencies, partners and the ecosystem at large. To thrive in the 5G world, innovation and collaboration need to be embedded into the culture along with refreshing the technical skills.
VoicenData: How do you see the ecosystem for 5G developing in India?
Aditya Chaudhuri: We believe that telecom operators that fare well in the race to 5G will likely be those capitalizing on shared value via ecosystems. We are witnessing significant action on the ground as large Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are conducting trials with major service providers. In addition, test labs for specific verticals are being set up to focus on key sectors such as banking, railways, agriculture, manufacturing, health, smart village, power and more. However, we have a long way to go in terms of infrastructure readiness.
VoicenData: The Indian telecom sector is undergoing disruption. How does the future of the telecom sector look?
Aditya Chaudhuri: Telecommunications companies face enormous opportunities and challenges in today’s greatly disrupted industry. According to the Accenture disruptability index, nearly 70 percent of enterprises in India are affected by industry disruption and US$1.8 trillion of enterprise value is at risk of displacement. The communications industry falls under the viability state where disruption is a constant; sources of competitive advantage are often short-lived, as new disruptors consistently emerge. In this state, companies need to embrace a constant state of innovation.
To stay relevant in the fast-paced competitive landscape, telcos need to continuously reinvent themselves and move beyond the traditional business model to explore new revenue streams. With the right focus on new business and operating models, new technology adoption will offer unlimited new growth opportunities to the telecom industry.
With customers, billing relationships, networks, security and control points, the telecom industry has a strong heritage to build on. The power of digital technologies such as AI, IoT, AR, industrial automation combined with 5G provides unprecedented opportunities to expand and improve their services and become more relevant to both their B2C and B2B customers, thereby bringing new monetization possibilities. The future looks promising for the telecom industry if they plan well to take advantage of the digital disruption and rotate to the new.