Success for 5G? Support your customers’ customers

Image credit: Christian Bertrand /

Given that 5G is about much more than 5G, it is about the whole cloud/platform/delivery revolution, success for telcos may lie in supporting their customers’ customers.

As it stands there seems to be no real appetite (read ‘business case’) for charging extra money for extra bandwidth and speed.

The fact that AT&T and Verizon are launching 5G networks and simply adding to the customer’s subscription has been met with an apathy not seen for several years. It lacks imagination and it certainly lacks the feel that creativity is at work within the halls of these two telcos.

To be fair, operators have been saying for several years now that early 5G success and revenues will come from the enterprise sector. This massive generalisation is now becoming a little clearer through niche statistics and ideas.

If you think of 5G being about customers’ customers then it begins to make a lot of sense.

Take eSports.

eSports was a ‘market’ that was slightly beyond the imagination of this particular journalist two years ago when Ovum predicted it would be the biggest growth area in 2018. What, we thought, could replace real sports?

The answer is that, like all successful technologies, it enhances and adds to the experience as well as having its own massive gaming following.

5G is as much about holistic efficiencies as it is about enhancing digital experiences.

So when Ovum discusses 5G and eSports they are talking as much about great experiences as efficiency for the stadium owners. It is not surprising, therefore, that 64% of telcos in the Asia Pacific region are working on partnerships with stadium owners (or that 56% are looking to partner with video games companies).

From finding your seat, to ordering refreshments from your seat and having a well informed, augmented experience of whatever is happening in the stadium will be a revolution for attendees.

The good news is that telcos, a business that is widely seen as being only about ‘speeds and feeds’ is used to dealing with enterprise customers. They can sell bandwidth and network management (in more and more dynamic and interesting ways) and they do not have to worry themselves about the end customer.

This will suit them well and if eSports is just one potential arena then multiply that by however many times your imagination can come up with another and suddenly the future for telcos seems a lot brighter. After all, many have argued that the way forward was via a wholesale model.

Just perhaps not one quite like this.

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