The sun is rising across a new connectivity landscape. The next generation of cellular network technology, or 5G as it’s more commonly known, is surrounded by opportunity and potential. But, the outlay of significant investment in network infrastructure across the globe by operators and carriers alike, will need to be remunerated before the pay-back will be fully realised.
The APAC 5G landscape
According to the GSMA’s Mobile Economy report, Asia Pacific is on track to become the world’s largest 5G region by 2025, led by pioneering markets such as Australia, China, Japan and South Korea. That means that in the next five years, Asia will reach 675 million 5G connections; more than 50 percent of the global 5G total expected by 2025.
Subscribers in the region’s growing mobile ecosystem will be able to enjoy speeds of over 1GBps, together with ultra-reliability and low latency. The new standard will be able to support data-intensive applications such as gaming and VR, and a host of enterprise-ready IoT applications across multiple verticals from healthcare, to retail, automotive and industrial.
According to the GSMA’s Director General, Mats Granryd, Asian mobile operators will invest almost $200 billion over the next few years, upgrading and expanding their 4G networks and launching new 5G networks, and compatible handsets and devices. But the reality is, this huge bill will take a long time for mobile operators to recoup, especially if they are only taking a network-centric approach. Not only does there need to be a change in operator mindset, but they need to look beyond the connectivity stack to add value, which means identifying new lines of business that will keep them profitable and competitive.So, just how can telcos monetise their services in this new, digital age?
An open, collaborative approach
Digital Service Providers (DSPs) hold the key to monetisation. By partnering with DSPs, using open source software, mobile operators can open up their network APIs to third parties, such as mobile application developers and cloud service providers. The collaboration between the two enables operators to access new revenue streams such as online payments and in-app purchases. It also enables operators to compete against the agile OTT players, such as messaging, social media and mobile payment app WeChat, who have muscled in on the market, free-riding on operators’ networks.
Using an API stack as a ‘network-as-a-platform’ model, MNOs can create wide-reaching ecosystems of partners faster than ever before, enabling them to capitalise on the new revenue opportunities presented by 5G. The model enables third parties to easily tap straight into mobile operators’ resources, promoting collaboration across the industry.
In a similar vein, the ‘network-as-a-platform’ model also allows businesses to access the capabilities that operators’ 5G networks offer, such as direct carrier billing, a popular alternative means of making purchases in areas where mobiles are up to five times more common than credit cards.
The next generation future
Across Asia and other parts of the world, mobile technology has had transformative social benefits in areas such as health and education, and mobile networks are often viewed as a measure of economic success. 5G is therefore not just the catalyst for a huge range of new consumer and enterprise services, but an opportunity for telcos to monetise their services, and diversify into new lines of business to keep their offering competitive, and in line with end-user demand.
The connectivity landscape is growing richer and more varied by the day. By opening up their networks through open-source API technology, operators can seize the opportunity to recover revenue from their initial network investments and remain competitive – key in an active market.
By Zoran Vasiljev, CEO Apigate