5G is not innovation but it’s a good excuse to innovate

5G innovation
Image credit: Sunny studio / Shutterstock.com

With 5G here – or nearly here – the focus is turning to use cases. If we stop calling it 5G and start thinking about a super-fast, low latency network then it becomes easier.

If you want over a hundred (101 to be precise) examples of innovation (or digital transformation that actually means something) that are within the grasp of telcos, look no further than the latest white paper from Openet. The company has produced many good papers over the years but this one stands out.

The examples are short and to the point and cover a wide range of areas. From churn reduction to increasing data usage to 5G use cases (yes, there are a lot) to second brands to analytics this is a paper that you should read.

Some of the highlights that we really liked include an example that we have seen before, from Google Fi. It is also an example of how billing (or Smart Charging and Payments to use the phrase that ETIS now use) can be deployed to provide an intuitive service that your customers will really like. Essentially it is a take on the roll over data idea but instead of allowing customers to use data the next month, it actually credits the customer with the data and it appears on their bill. This means that the customer sees a credit.

Another example of simple yet meaningful innovation is the idea of ‘roll under’ where SK Telecom (possibly the first to really launch 5G) allow customers to roll their data over to the next month, but they also allow them to borrow data from their next month’s allowance, without charging.

It seems that the one thing that is constant in these examples is that where an operator has an attractive and user friendly app, the loyalty and ability to offer intuitive services increases dramatically. For instance, Vodafone in Italy has an app that allows their customers discounts on fuel from a leading chain of petrol stations.

Another is how some operators have jumped on the ‘roam like at home’ bandwagon. Now that it is forbidden to charge for roaming while EU customers roam into other EU countries, some operators have started adding extra countries to their list of ‘roam like home’ countries, such as New Zealand or Argentina.

And while you are at it why not do deals that benefits inbound roamers. NTT DoCoMo has done this with SK Telecom and China Telecom where customers of these two telcos receive offers, discounts and deals from the host operator, NTT.

Zero rating is also making a come back. Proximus in Belgium for example offer their customers zero rating on their favourite app and you can change your favourite every month if you choose. 5G will trigger many more of these kinds of offers.

Among the many examples of innovation there is even one where you can trade your excess mobile data via a blockchain app.

Without question the use cases are beginning to appear and without question there are opportunities for telcos who are ready to ‘think digital’. But they really have to mean and they must get beyond the frankly boring notion of simply charging extra for 5G.

Openet has done the industry a big favour by collecting and commenting on all aspects of telco innovation and it is a highly recommended read.

The white paper is free and downloadable in return for a short registration.

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