Ericsson and Nokia agree 5G must look beyond the consumer

Senior executives at Ericsson and Nokia sounded remarkably similar notes earlier this month when they both warned that, to justify 5G roll-out, operators would need to look well beyond traditional mobile broadband models.

Gowton Achaibar, head of north American operations at Ericsson, told the Competitive Carriers Association: “Ultimately, we think monetization models will go well beyond the individual. In the future the 5G networks will probably be designed more to provide industries and other types of vertical solutions that they can leverage. I think we’re moving into the era where 5G is much broader than just a solution for the traditional consumer.”

Meanwhile, Nokia’s mobile networks CTO, Hossein Moiin, told Mobile World that it was now “critical” for operators to find new use cases beyond mobile broadband, as users started to consume more than 1GB a day in some markets such as India.

He said operators must start now to experiment with business cases which go beyond mobile broadband, using LTE-Advanced and LTE-A Pro (which Nokia labels 4.5G and 4.9G) to start building services in areas like the IoT, critical communications and enhanced broadband experience, which could later be developed further with 5G.

“It’s really the right time for operators to start looking at how to expand the ecosystem and how they can benefit for all the investments they are making, instead of them just benefiting application providers and over the top players,” he added.

Achaibar also wants to stress the continuum between advanced 4G and 5G – essential to ensure a smooth stream of equipment revenues for these vendors, rather than a hiatus before 5G kicks in. He said: “Our thinking at Ericsson is that 5G is not some isolated event that will happen at some place in time that will replace 4G or make 4G obsolete, or somehow kill off the whole 4G networks that we have today. In fact, we see the opposite. We see a very synergistic integration between 4G and 5G, and the abilities for the two technologies to work interactively with each other and solve the two specific use cases much more effectively.”

He said 5G will then drive growth for IoT services that are already starting to be adopted, such as connected cars and wearables, and will serve as a launchpad for smart healthcare and the Industrial IoT. All of these will require new approaches to pricing, subsidy and device management,  compared to those for consumer services.